Oct. 21, 1999
Vol. 19 No. 3

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    Jerald Brauer, scholar of Puritanism

    Jerald Brauer, the Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor Emeritus in the Divinity School and a leading scholar of Puritanism, died Sunday, Sept. 26, at his home in Chicago. Brauer, 78, who was an expert on the history of Christianity in America, helped to establish the Divinity School as a leading international center of research and graduate education.

    Brauer was the author of numerous books, including Protestantism in America (1953, revised 1965), Images of Religion in America (1967) and Luther and the Reformation (1953) with Jaroslav Pelikan. Brauer’s final book, John Nuveen: A Life of Service (1997), was a biography of the man who headed the Chicago investment firm John Nuveen and Company and was a member of the University’s Board of Trustees for many years and a prominent figure on the Chicago cultural scene. Brauer also was the editor of more than 30 volumes, many of which were published by the University Press.

    From 1955 to 1960, Brauer was Dean of the University’s Federated Theological Faculty, which embraced three neighboring theological schools as well as the University’s Divinity School. When this arrangement was dissolved in 1960, he became Dean of the University’s Divinity School, a post he held until 1970, when he resumed full-time teaching and research.

    “The Divinity School had by the early 1960s become one of the major theological centers in the English-speaking world,” said Nathan Scott, professor emeritus of religion and literature at the University of Virginia Divinity School and the former Shailer Matthews Professor of Theology and Literature in the Divinity School. Brauer persuaded such distinguished scholars as Mircea Eliade, Paul Tillich and Paul Ricoeur to accept appointments to the faculty along with many gifted younger people. “Brauer’s deanship was extraordinarily dynamic and creative,” added Scott.

    From 1960 to 1991, Brauer held the Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Chair, and at the time of his death, he was the Frederick W. Bateson Senior Professor in Residence.

    W. Clark Gilpin, the current Dean of the Divinity School and one of Brauer’s students, praised his “abilities as a teacher and a dissertation adviser, who was both generous with his own ideas and talented at evoking independent thought in his students.”

    Brauer was born in Fond du Lac, Wis. He received a B.A. from Carthage College (then in Carthage, Ill., now in Kenosha, Wis.) in 1943 and entered the Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary, where he received the degree of bachelor of divinity in 1945. He then began his doctoral studies at the Divinity School and was awarded his Ph.D. in 1948.

    His first teaching appointment was at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he served as instructor of church history and the history of Christianity and as assistant to professor Paul Tillich from 1948 to 1950. In 1950, he returned to the University as Assistant Professor in the History of Christianity, and there he spent the remainder of his career.

    Brauer, who was a co-editor of the quarterly journal Church History for more than 30 years, also was a delegated observer in the third and fourth sessions of the Vatican Council II.

    Besides his wife of 54 years, Muriel Nelson Brauer, survivors are sons, Christopher Nelson Brauer of Chicago and Thomas Carl Brauer of Oshkosh, Wis.; daughter, Marian Ruth Wieting of Chicago; and four grandchildren, Aven Nelson Brauer and Nathaniel Bowen Bunker of Chicago and Tricia Maria Brauer and Lauren Anna Brauer of Oshkosh, Wis.

    A memorial service for Brauer will be held at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3, in Bond Chapel.

    Earl Evans, former Chair of Biochemistry

    Earl Alison Evans of Chicago, Professor Emeritus and former Chairman of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the University, died from pneumonia on Tuesday, Oct. 5. He was 89.

    Although Evans was a pioneer in several fields, he was perhaps best known as a far-sighted, imaginative and magnanimous leader who built and maintained one of the top-rated biochemistry departments in the United States during his 30-year chairmanship, from 1942 to 1972.

    “Earl Evans did groundbreaking work in a number of areas, then shifted his commitment to finding and supporting other people who did important research, quickly establishing the department as a leader in many different areas and as a place that trained the people who led departments elsewhere,” said Donald Steiner, the A.N. Pritzker Professor in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and a Howard Hughes senior investigator.

    “He was an excellent scientist in his own right and was extraordinarily generous in supporting others, providing them with the resources and independence to develop their own research programs.”

    “He was genuinely inspiring,” said Eugene Goldwasser, Professor Emeritus in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the University. “He not only seemed to know all there was about nearly everything, but he also had a true intellectual understanding of how to communicate what he knew easily, yet convincingly, about science or anything else. This was one of the skills that made him such an effective leader.”

    Evans’s early research focused on the use of radioactive isotopes as “tracers,” markers that could be used to follow the metabolism of various substances within the body. Evans pioneered the use of a short-lived carbon isotope, 11C, produced in the cyclotron at the University by his colleague Louis Slotin. He used it to show that animal cells, like photosynthetic plants, were capable of using carbon dioxide for the synthesis of carbohydrates, a process known as CO2 fixation. This work brought him the Lilly Prize in 1941.

    In the late 1940s, Evans shifted his attention to the biochemistry of genes. He was part of a movement known as the “phage group,” path-breaking scientists who studied a group of viruses that infect bacteria to reveal how genes work. Their research confirmed the seminal importance of DNA as the material that carries genetic information.

    Born March 11, 1910, in Baltimore, Evans earned his Ph.D. in 1936 from Columbia University. He joined the Chicago faculty as an Instructor in 1937 and left for one year in 1939 for a research fellowship in the laboratory of Hans Krebs, who won the Nobel Prize in 1953.

    In 1940, Evans’s rapid discoveries concerning CO2 fixation led to his meteoric rise from Instructor to full Professor and Chairman of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology in 1942 at the age of 32.

    In 1948, he began building the department, quickly assembling an all-star roster of brilliant young scientists, including Konrad Bloch, who won the Nobel Prize in 1964 for his radioactive-tracer work on cholesterol biosynthesis.

    Evans is survived by a great niece and an adopted son, David Lasswell of Chicago.

    A memorial service at Bond Chapel is being planned for the spring.