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Dr. Lee | Dr. Billingham

Dr. Lee, English and Communication

Charles Lee

Dr. Charles Lee, arts critic, commentator, author, poet, and emeritus professor of English, died on November 20 at the age of 89.

Born Charles Levy, in Philadelphia, Dr. Lee took all his degrees at Penn: his B.A. in 1933, his M.A. in 1936 and his Ph.D. in 1955, all in English.

He was an assistant instructor in English, 1933-36, until he resigned to become book editor of the Boston Herald-Traveler, 1936-40, and the Philadelphia Record, 1940-47. He was a contributing editor to the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, 1947-49. In the early 1960s he wrote a regularly syndicated book review column for several newspapers. For 16 years he contributed reviews regularly to The New York Times, and occasionally published verse and poems in national magazines.

In 1946, he returned to Penn as a part-time lecturer in journalism and became full-time in 1949. He was promoted to associate professor of English in 1956 and subsequently full professor. He taught creative writing, writing non-fiction and review and criticism. In the early 1980s Dr. Lee taught writing of non-fiction and review and criticism. Dr. Lee became emeritus professor in 1983.

Dr. Lee was professor of communications and the first vice dean of the Annenberg School of Communications, 1959-65, under Dean Gilbert Seldes.

He was also one of Almanac's earliest editors, serving from December 1955 until May 1959, with Bruce Montgomery as managing editor. They jointly exhibited their paintings at the Faculty Club six times, 1985-1998.

Dr. Lee wrote 11 books including Love, Life & Laughter (1990), The Hidden Public (1958), Snow, Ice and Penguins (1950), and Weekend at the Waldorf (1945). His verse was described as "wise, witty and richly imaginative."

Dr. Lee appeared on radio beginning in 1938 and had been connected with television since 1953. In the 1960s he had a radio show of cultural commentary on WCAU, and then became the arts and entertainment critic, reviewing books, movies and art at WFLN-FM, 1979-97. He was the cultural arts critic on WCAU-TV 10, 1965-73.

Dr. Lee was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, AAUP, the International Radio and Television Society, the Association for Professional Broadcasting Education, and the Association for Education in Journalism.

Dr. Lee and Bruce Montgomery
Dr. Lee (left) as seen by self-portraitist Bruce Montgomery

In 1944, he won Penn's first Annual Award for Meritorious Achievement in Journalism. For the Annenberg Center's 25th anniversary gala on April 29, 1996, he presented A Reminiscence which was published in Almanac October 1, 1996.

Dr. Lee is survived by his wife, Ruth Sarah Micali Lee; his son, Dr. Myles Lee, and four grandchildren, Jonathan David Snyder, Rachael Snyder, Allison Lee and Evan P. Lee.

A memorial service will be held at the Annenberg Center on December 13, 3-5 p.m. Memorial donations may be made to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, Office of the Secretary, 211 College Hall (please designate that the donation is in his memory).

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Dr. Billingham, Medical Genetics

Rupert Billingham

Dr. Rupert Billingham, former chair of the Department of Medical Genetics, died from complications of Parkinson's disease on November 16, at the age of 81. He was one of the most important scientists in the development of the field of transplantation, according to Dr. Clyde Barker, professor of surgery.

Dr. Billingham was born in England and educated at Oxford where he was the first graduate student of Sir Peter Medawar. He subsequently moved with Sir Peter Medawar to the University of Birmingham and then to University College, London. Medawar's biography Memoirs of a Thinking Radish reviews Dr. Billingham's crucial role in the research for which Medawar was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1960. Their landmark experiment was published in Nature in 1953. The demonstration that a state of "tolerance" could be induced was the first real suggestion that transplantation was indeed feasible as a method of treating diseased organs.

In 1959 Dr. Billingham moved to Philadelphia to head a research group at the Wistar Institute. Many of the over 200 papers he subsequently published proved to be seminal ones in other important facets of his field. Dr. Billingham was the first to recognize and describe graft vs. host disease, one of the most important barriers to successful marrow transplantation, and the first to describe effective use of an immunosuppressive agent to prolong allograft survival and one of the first to study tissue preservation.

Dr. Billingham served as chairman of the Department of Medical Genetics in the School of Medicine, 1965 to 1971. The work he did with his graduate students or encouraged them to do was also crucial in the development of the fields of histocompatibility testing, definition of the mechanisms of transplant rejection, such as the importance of passenger leukocytes and the lymphatic circulation and in elucidation of the immunology of the maternal fetal relationships.

He had the gift of being able to gather around him trainees who were capable and stimulated by his infectious enthusiasm and vigorous approach. At least a dozen of his graduate students or junior members of his department have gone on to head up their own departments or research units.

Dr. Billingham, although a basic scientist rather than a clinician, was very interested in the application of transplantation to human disease. He was a central figure in the development of a kidney transplant program at Penn in 1966.

In 1971 Dr. Billingham moved from Penn to the chairmanship of cell biology at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, where he served until his retirement in 1986. He was a member in the Royal Society, London, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, held honorary degrees from Penn and Trinity College of Hartford, honorary memberships in Societe Francaises d'Immunologie and the British Transplantation Society, the presidency of the International Society for Immunology of Reproduction and of the International Transplantation Society which dedicated its Congress to him in 1994.

Dr. Billingham is survived by his wife Jean, three children, John, Peter and Elizabeth, and three grandchildren.


  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 15, December 10, 2002