UC Berkeley News


Gunther Barth, Ysidoro Dueñes, Esmond Snell, Therese Thau Heyman, Richard Arthur Wollheim, August Carl Helmholz, Jesse Rabinowitz

21 January 2004


G. Barth

Gunther Barth

Gunther Barth
Professor Emeritus of History Gunther Barth, who taught at Berkeley for more than three decades and mentored countless students, passed away Jan. 7, at age 78, following a brief illness.

The Berkeley resident joined the faculty in 1962 and retired in 1995. He was a highly productive scholar and energetic teacher who regularly taught a full schedule, alternating courses on the history of the American West and urban American history. He was principal adviser for a long list of Ph.D. students.

Born in 1925 near Düsseldorf, Germany, Barth entered the German army at age 15 during World War II. He was seriously wounded twice, but was repeatedly sent back into action. His regiment surrendered in northern Italy at the end of the war. He spent two years as a British POW in Egypt and in hospitals.

Following the war, he worked as a journalist while attending classes at the University of Cologne. Winning a U.S. State Department fellowship enabled him in 1949 to spend a year at the University of Oregon, where he eventually completed his bachelor’s degree in European history and his master’s degree in American history. He earned his doctorate in American history at Harvard in 1962.

History Professor Richard Abrams said Barth was “a scholar with a prodigious knowledge, not merely of U.S. history but of world history, a gentle man and the truest of gentlemen, an invaluable colleague who willingly took on departmental and university work, and a tireless friend as well as teacher for scores of graduate students."

Barth is survived by his wife, Ellen Wood Barth, of Berkeley; two sons, Dominic Barth, of Boston, and Gilbert Barth, of Boulder, Colo.; a daughter, Giselle Barth, of New York City; and two grandchildren. His daughter Christina Barth, of London, died in 2003.

A memorial service is pending.
— Kathleen Maclay

Ysidoro Dueñes
Ysidoro Dueñes, a counselor in the campus Career Center, died on Dec. 22 from sudden heart failure while jogging in his hometown of La Verne, Calif. He was 54.

Dueñes had been a member of the campus community since 1988, first with Pre-Professional and Pre-Graduate Services and then, beginning in the mid-’90s, with the Career Center. During his tenure at Berkeley, he advised thousands of students preparing for and applying to graduate and professional schools, including medicine and law. More recently he was the Career Center’s lead counselor for pre-law programs, hosting representatives from schools across the country at the annual law school fair.

Dueñes frequently collaborated with staff in a range of campus units, including the Academic Achievement Division, Graduate Opportunities Programs, College of Letters and Science Advising, Transfer, Re-entry and Student Parents (TRSP), Student Life Advising, and the Financial Aid Office. He was an active member of ALIANZA, the Ethnic Staff Coalition, and the Chicano/Latino Graduation Committee. Additionally, he was one of the original staff diversity facilitators for the Project DARE educational program, and served as a staff adviser to several student organizations whose focus was on preparing for law school.

Said Jim Sullivan, associate director of the Career Center: “Encouraging all students, and in particular transfer students, to apply to and succeed at Berkeley was important to Ysidoro, and he devoted endless hours to helping students achieve their goals. He possessed all the fine qualities of an outstanding counselor: he was a caring, supportive, good listener who was optimistic about everyone’s talents. We will really miss his presence here.”

Dueñes is survived by his children Elisa, Rene, and Marisela, his daughter-in-law Evelyn Soto, and sisters Monica Delgado and Ambie Bustamonte. Linda Hernandez, a longtime colleague, remembers that “Ysidoro was very devoted to his family, relished his role as a father, and proudly talked of his children’s accomplishments.”

A memorial service is planned for 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 4, in the Toll Room, Alumni House.

Esmond Snell
Esmond Emerson Snell — a leading biochemist and vitamin researcher who discovered several B vitamins, including folic acid, in the mid-1900s — died Dec. 9 in Boulder, Colo. Snell, who was 89, died of prostate cancer and congestive heart failure, according to his family, only six days after the death of Mary Terrill Snell, his wife of 62 years.

Snell was a nutritional biochemist whose work on vitamins and the chemistry of their actions was recognized internationally. His research was considered by many to be on a par with that of other scientists who received Nobel Prizes in the 1930s and 1940s for their discovery of vitamins A, C, K, B2 (riboflavin), and biotin.

“He was nominated several times for the Nobel Prize, and should have received one” for his work on the coenzyme form of vitamin B6, said Jack Kirsch, professor of molecular and cell biology and of chemistry.

Especially noteworthy was Snell’s development of microbiological assays employing lactic acid bacteria for the identification and isolation of factors essential for animal nutrition. Thanks to Snell and his colleagues, more than half of the known vitamins were discovered first through their action in bacteria.

With various colleagues at the University of Texas, he independently discovered and named folic acid, a B vitamin; the B vitamin pantothenic acid; and two of the three coenzyme forms of vitamin B6.

Born in Salt Lake City in 1914, Snell earned both his master’s (1936) and Ph.D. (1938) degrees in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His long academic career began at the University of Texas in 1939 and included professorships at the Universities of Wisconsin and Texas.

Snell was invited to Berkeley in 1956 to chair the Department of Biochemistry upon its merger with the Department of Agricultural Biochemistry, serving in that role for six years. Upon his retirement from Berkeley in 1976 (when he was awarded the Berkeley Citation), he returned to UT Austin as professor of microbiology and chemistry.

Snell is survived by two sons, Richard Snell of Cumming, Ga., and Allan Snell of Boulder, Colo.; a daughter, Margaret Larkin, of Inverness, Calif.; a sister, Vesta Francis, of American Fork, Utah; and six grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by a sister and two brothers, as well as by his wife and son, Esmond Snell, Jr., who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1968. Snell and his wife were buried on Dec. 12 at Sunset View Cemetery in El Cerrito, Calif., next to their son.
— Robert Sanders

Other recent passings
For the full text of these obituaries, visit the campus NewsCenter (newscenter.berkeley.edu) and enter the subject’s surname in the “News Search” field.

Therese Thau Heyman, an influential curator of photography noted for her expertise in works related to California who, as the wife of former Berkeley chancellor I. Michael Heyman, played host to world leaders, died Friday, Jan. 16, following a long illness. She was 74.

Richard Arthur Wollheim, a professor emeritus of philosophy and an authority on psychoanalysis and art, died of heart failure Nov. 4, at his London home. He was 80.

August Carl Helmholz, professor emeritus of physics, died Oct. 29 at his home in Lafayette after a six-month decline in health. He was 88.

Jesse Rabinowitz, a retired professor of molecular and cell biology, died Sept. 9 of melanoma at his home in Kensington, at the age of 78.