In Memorium

Dr. Claranne M.“Tinky” Bush, (’65 BS, Pre Medicine, ’68 MS, Zoology) 67, died Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012. Born in Bishopville, S.C., she was also awarded a doctorate in Biology from Texas Tech University in 1971. Bush spent more than 30 years teaching at the college and university level with six years in higher education administration. According to Bush, “Auburn gave me much more than an excellent education. The professors were role models and mentors. That fact, coupled with the experience of working part-time my junior year and for other years as a zoology lab assistant made me realize that I was a person fortunate enough to find my niche in life–teaching. Teaching is a passion to me, and even though the accolades I received as a teacher were appreciated, I hope that I have influenced in a positive way the lives of many students. The seeds of becoming and enjoying being a teacher were sown and watered at Auburn. I believe in the Auburn Creed, and I love her.”

An-Ban Chen died on Dec. 26, 2012, after a battle with lung cancer. Born on Oct. 10, 1942, in Taiwan, Chen graduated from Taiwan Normal University with top honors and was awarded a scholarship to study in the U.S. He received his doctorate in physics from the College of William and Mary in 1971 and joined the Auburn University Physics Department in 1974. A full professor upon his retirement in 2008, Chen received several awards during his tenure, including the Alumni and Walter Professorships. He conducted groundbreaking research in solid state physics, but he was a teacher at heart and was the thesis advisor for several doctoral students as well as a mentor and guide for many family members and close friends.

Leon W. Cunningham (’47 BS, Chemistry) died Saturday, June 8, 2013 a day before his 86th birthday. A native of Columbus, Ga., he went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in chemistry from the University of Illinois. Following service in the U.S. Navy, he joined the Department of Biochemistry at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine as an assistant professor. He was later named professor, the first associate dean for biomedical sciences (research), and chairman of the Department of Biochemistry. He was named Harvie Branscomb Distinguished Professor in 1988 and retired as professor emeritus in 1994. A member of several scientific societies including the American Society for Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Chemical Society, Cunningham was well known for his contributions to the fields of enzyme chemistry, glycoproteins and connective tissue biochemistry, and for his commitment to the department and to the graduate students he mentored. He will be remembered as a consummate scientist.

Dr. Steven Disch (’76 Pre-Med Biology) died unexpectedly on March 16, 2013. Born on June 16, 1954, in Wisconsin, Disch enrolled at Auburn in 1972 and was a track-and-field athlete. A graduate of the University of Alabama School of Medicine, he completed his residency at the Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes Hospital at St. Louis. Most of his professional years were spent in private practice with Spectrum Neurosurgical Specialists in Alpharetta, Ga. Disch was an ardent Auburn University fan and loyal participant in the COSAM Dean’s Scholarship Golf Classic. He will be remembered as a dedicated husband, father, son, brother, doctor, and friend.

Dean Styles Hays-Elam (’58 MS, Zoology) died Sept. 1, 2012, at her home in Auburn. Born on April 17, 1933, she was a graduate of Warren Wilson College and Maryville College, where she remained after graduation to teach physiology and biology. After earning her master’s from Auburn, she taught zoology for seven years and returned in 1984 to teach physiology until her retirement in 1995. A highlight of her career was receiving an Outstanding Teacher Award and two Outstanding Advisor Awards. A proud member of the PEO Sisterhood, an international women’s organization focused on providing educational opportunities for females, she served in many capacities, including State President of the Alabama State Chapter. Hays-Elam was an active member of First Presbyterian Church, and served as an elder, member of the Burton Bible Class, Sunday school teacher, Circle chairman, youth advisor, and moderator of Presbyterian Women, among various other roles.

Dan Lassiter Philen (’68 Chemistry). Born June 25, 1946, in Sheffield, Ala., Dan Philen died on Monday, April 15, 2013, of natural causes. After graduating from Auburn, he served for two years in the U.S. Army and then enrolled at Texas A&M University where he earned his doctorate in physical chemistry. Following post-doctoral work at Rice University and the University of Maryland, he joined the staff of the Georgia Tech Engineering Experiment Station. He spent 22 years with AT&T Bell Laboratories, during which time he published many technical papers and shared in several patents. In retirement, Philen taught chemistry at several local colleges and universities, including Emory and Auburn, where he was always a favorite of his students. An ardent car enthusiast, amateur photographer, and dog lover, Philen was a long-time member of the COSAM Dean’s Leadership Council.

Dr. James Robert “Bob” Piper (’55 BS, Chemistry; ’60 PhD, Organic Chemistry). Born in Tallassee Ala., on Jan. 14, 1933, Piper died on April 9, 2013. After service the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he entered Alabama Polytechnic Institute in 1952 and soon realized that chemistry was his “calling in life.” A member of Phi Lambda Upsilon, Piper accepted a position at Southern Research Institute in 1960 and would remain there until his retirement in 1998. He developed an FDA-approved compound effective as a radioprotective agent used in cancer treatment and participated in a joint effort with Memorial Sloan Kettering Institute to produce an antifolate drug for the treatment of lymphoma. Piper was able to improve methotrexate, a leading anti-cancer drug, making it less toxic and more effective. A prolific writer, he authored nearly 100 publications and several book chapters. He was recognized by Southern Research Institute in 1994 when he was awarded the Scientific and Engineering Excellence Award. In late 2009, a drug he had developed tirelessly for 30 years was approved by the FDA. Currently sold under the name of Folotyn, it is used to treat patients suffering from peripheral T-cell lymphoma. Outside the lab, Piper was a fan of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and the Opera Birmingham. He was a long-time member of the Unitarian Church of Birmingham, the United Nations Association-USA Greater Birmingham Chapter, and the COSAM Dean’s Leadership Council, but his greatest passion was spending time with his family. Piper firmly believed the strong education he received at Auburn was the foundation on which he built his exceptionally successful career.

Please send memorial gifts to:

COSAM Office of Development
315 Roosevelt Concourse
Auburn University, AL 36849