Deaths in the family

Author: Notre Dame Magazine

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Notre Dame senior Annrose Jerry died in January. Her body was found in St. Mary’s Lake on January 24, three days after she had last been seen on campus. A science-business major, Jerry was a gifted musician, a solo flutist for the Notre Dame Folk Choir and a resident of Breen-Phillips Hall.

Jerry, 21, was born in Kerala, India, and grew up in Blaine, Minnesota. She was a National Merit Scholarship finalist and a member of Notre Dame’s Glynn Family Honors Program.

Mourners filled the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the night of January 27 for a Mass celebrated in Jerry’s memory. The University posthumously awarded her diploma on the same day.

Passion is an overused word these days but there is none better to describe Paul A. Rathburn and his desire to share Shakespeare with his students, Notre Dame and the South Bend community. The native of La Crosse, Wisconsin, joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1965 and for the next 35 years taught medieval drama and literature, modern British drama, Renaissance literature and, most enthusiastically, Shakespeare. For decades, Rathburn was the “go to” professor for students of all majors and disciplines to study the most prodigious writer of the English language. Recipient of numerous teaching awards, he supplemented text and teaching by screening films of the bard’s plays and led tours to Shakespeare festivals in Stratford, Ontario, in London and in Stratford-upon-Avon. Rathburn lectured on Shakespeare aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 and the Queen Mary 2. When he taught in Notre Dame’s London Program, he brought Sir Anthony Hopkins into class; he drew such actors as James Earl Jones, Claire Bloom, Brian Bedford and Michael York to the South Bend campus.

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Discussing the importance of performance, Rathburn once explained to a reporter: “I think when you’re in the same space in the theater and they’re live in front of you, the humanity of the characters comes through in a very, very strong way. You realize that what looks like verse on the page becomes a human being pouring his heart out, and you’re able to respond to that.” So in 1999 Rathburn founded the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival and served as its artistic director. Tens of thousands of students, faculty, staff and area residents have seen or participated in Shakespearean events because of the various outreach programs he created.

Peter Holland, Notre Dame’s McMeel Family Chair in Shakespeare Studies, said Rathburn “believed in the excitement and thrill of watching Shakespeare, and he wanted everybody to have that opportunity. That’s why he created it. He wanted everybody in our community to have that thrill.”

Rathburn is remembered by many as a true Renaissance man, artistic, athletic and loving, the kind of person to fill a room and inject care and good humor. He died February 12 at age 85. In response to his colleague’s passing, Holland turned to a line from Antony and Cleopatra, when a messenger announces the death of Mark Antony’s wife by saying, “There’s a great spirit gone.”

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Anthony N. Michel, Notre Dame’s Matthew H. McCloskey Dean Emeritus of the College of Engineering and the Frank M. Freimann Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering, died February 1 in South Bend. He was 84.

Michel was born in 1935 in Recas, Romania, a member of the Banat Swabian ethnic minority about which he would write a book in his retirement. In the aftermath of World War II, he traveled with his mother to Austria, where they lived for five years in a displaced persons camp. They immigrated in 1952 to the United States, settling in Milwaukee.

An expert in the qualitative analysis of dynamical systems and author of 12 textbooks and monographs, Michel joined Notre Dame’s Department of Electrical Engineering as its chair in 1984. Four years later, he was tapped to serve as dean of the college, which he would lead until 1998. During this period, the college established the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, recruiting faculty and marshaling resources for one of its present strengths, in nanoelectronics.

Michel was a jovial man, “the spark in every room,” said Panos Antsaklis, the H. Clifford and Evelyn A. Brosey Professor in Electrical Engineering and the co-author with Michel of two textbooks. Antsaklis said his colleague and friend “was always full of energy, always having ideas. He was very thoughtful.” Even while dean, he said, Michel continued to be a prolific scholar and researcher.

Trained in electrical engineering at Marquette University, where he earned three degrees, Michel spent seven years in the aerospace industry and later earned a doctorate of science in applied mathematics from the Technical University of Graz in Austria. He returned to Austria again as a Fulbright Scholar in 1992 and was elected a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Engineering that same year. In 1998, Germany’s Alexander von Humboldt Foundation granted Michel one of its prestigious research awards, a recognition of a lifetime body of work that has made a significant impact on a scholar’s discipline.

A dedicated family man, Michel is survived by Leone, his wife of 62 years, five children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.