Deaths in the family

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Author: Notre Dame Magazine staff

Morris Pollard devoted most of his 95 years to making medical research breakthroughs. He passed nearly 50 of those years at Notre Dame before he died in June.

Pollard’s early studies in science were interrupted by World War II. The young grad student from Hartford, Connecticut, enrolled in the U.S. Army’s Veterinary Corps and was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, where he tested vaccines for exotic diseases such as Q-fever and typhus that were plaguing Pacific forces. His research won him three presidential citations and an Army Commendation Medal, one of the highest honors for heroism outside of combat.

After the war Pollard joined the faculty at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, where he developed the first serological test for Hepatitis A and diagnostic tests for poliomyelitis. In 1961, Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, invited him to join the Notre Dame faculty. Pollard hesitated over how he would fit in as a Jew at a Catholic university but finally was persuaded to move to South Bend and direct the Lobund Laboratory.

At Notre Dame, Pollard published more than 300 scientific articles and created a breed of germ-free rats for research on the mechanisms of disease. Findings that triggered advances in bone marrow transplants won him the American Cancer Society’s Hope Award. More recently, he found that soy-rich diets could prevent refractory prostate cancers.

Late in life, he devoted himself to the cause of his son Jonathan, who has served 24 years on a life sentence for acts of espionage on behalf of Israel. He is survived by Jonathan, his two other children, Harvey and Carol, two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

An acclaimed historian, esteemed professor, loving father and faithful Christian, Vincent DeSantis died in May at age 94. He is fondly remembered for his generosity and his 60 years of service to Notre Dame.

DeSantis spent his entire professional career at Notre Dame, beginning in 1949. He chaired the history department from 1963 to 1971 and wrote noted studies of U.S. politics and society, including The Shaping of Modern America: 1877-1916. Younger alumni knew him for his popular class, American Presidents from FDR to Clinton. Meanwhile, his scholarly contributions sparked the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era to establish the Vincent P. DeSantis Prize to honor the best book published in the field.

During World War II DeSantis served in the Army and saw action in New Guinea and the Philippines. After the war, the native of Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, used the G.I. Bill to pursue his interest in American history. He later returned to active duty to serve in the Korean War, but his enthusiasm for scholarship never flagged and would earn him a Guggenheim fellowship and three Fulbright awards that took him to Italy, India and Australia.

His generosity was similarly distinguished and included a graduate fellowship in history at Notre Dame. While studying in India, he funded the education of a family in gratitude for their hospitality. Everywhere he lived, he made sure to contribute in some way.

De Santis is survived by his four sons, Vincent Jr., Edmund, Philip and John.


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