Abraham Zarem (EE ’39)

One of the last surviving Manhattan Project scientists, Abraham Zarem died March 8, 2023, at the age of 106. Zarem joined the Manhattan Project at the age of 28, and after World War II, he headed the electrical section of the physical research division at the United States Naval Ordnance Test Station. In 1963 he became senior vice president of Xerox, but left in 1970 to launch a consulting business. He then returned to Xerox as founder and CEO of its Xerox Development Corporation in 1975. He later served as founder and managing director of Frontier Associates, a technology consultancy, and one of his companies, Electro-Optical Systems, developed an experimental high-energy thruster for spacecraft that now resides in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Within academia, he served as a distinguished senior adviser for neuroscience technology transfer for the UCLA Brain Research Institute and as a distinguished visiting executive in science and technology for California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Mitchell (Mitch) Saranow

An Illinois Institute of Technology trustee and founder of The Saranow Group, Saranow passed away on May 13, 2023, at the age of 77. A highly accomplished venture capitalist, entrepreneur, attorney, and CPA, Saranow also worked as vice president of Sunmark Companies and chief financial officer at CFS Continental Inc. He formed The Saranow Group, LLC, a private investment firm, and served as chairman and chief executive officer of various companies, including Fluid Management Inc., and as a director for numerous corporations. He became an Illinois Tech trustee in 1998. His honors include the 1994 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Manufacturing for Indiana and Illinois, an induction into the University of Illinois Chicago’s Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, and receiving the Elijah Watt Sells Award in 1981, regarded as one of the highest honors a new CPA can receive.

Roy G. Gignac (EE ’52) 

The founder of Engineering Design and Sales, hailed by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States, Gignac died on April 24, 2023, at the age of 94. In addition to leading the United Way Fund Campaign for several years, Gignac served on the board of the Danville Development Council, Pittsylvania County Economic Development Organization, and Danville Industrial Development Authority. He also served as a member of Sovran Bank’s advisory board, Averett University’s Board of Trustees, and on the board of the Danville Chamber of Commerce. Gignac was a long-time philanthropist who supported many nonprofit organizations throughout the community, in addition to many scholarships for Illinois Tech students over the years. These scholarships included a special fund set up for local students to attend the university. In 2008 Gignac funded the Joan and Roy Gignac Research Laboratory at Illinois Tech. He was also a strong supporter of Duke University Medical Center and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where he established the Joan F. Gignac Pharmacogenomics Research Laboratory.

Gerald (Jerry) L. Bepko (LAW ’65)

The longest-serving chancellor of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Bepko died September 5, 2023, at the age of 83. Bepko served as an agent in the FBI in Jackson, Mississippi, as part of the federal government’s efforts to investigate civil rights abuses and violence in the late 1960s, and was tasked with investigating violence and threats by white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan on James Meredith’s 200-mile March Against Fear. He left the FBI after a car accident and became an assistant professor of law and director of the Institute for Criminal Justice at Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law. In 1986 Bepko became the third chancellor of IUPUI and held that position for 17 years. He also was involved in the consolidation of Indiana University hospitals with Methodist Hospitals of Indiana to form Clarian Health Partners Inc. (now IU Health). In 2004 the Bepko Scholars and Fellows program, IUPUI’s most prestigious scholarship, was created in Bepko’s honor. He won many awards, including the Anti-Defamation League Man of Achievement Award (2005), Daughters of the American Revolution Medal of Honor (1991), and the Indiana University Medal (2015).

Ralph L. Barnett (CE ’55, M.S. MAE ’58, Ph.D. CE ’21)

An active leader in the safety design industry into his late 80s, Barnett passed away at the age of 89. An instructor at Illinois Institute of Technology’s Armour College of Engineering for more than 40 years, Barnett worked as a professional engineer, research engineer, and director of research and development for organizations such as Armour Research Foundation and IIT Research Institute. He also founded multiple companies including Triodyne, Inc., a forensics, engineering, and science consultancy specializing in the safety of mechanical systems. Over his career, Barnett obtained 36 safety patents for products such as pool drains, household appliances, and airplane seats, among many others, and published hundreds of papers. He was also a lifelong scholar, finishing his thesis for his doctorate in civil engineering in 2021, and serving as a professor emeritus at Illinois Tech during his later years.

Eliezer (Elie) Geisler

A pioneer in the field of medical technology management and a professor at Illinois Tech’s Stuart School of Business for two decades, Geisler passed away at the age of 81. Geisler joined Stuart in 1999 and retired in 2019 as a Distinguished Professor of Organizational Behavior. He taught courses covering topics such as organizational behavior, health care management, leadership of multicultural organizations, and media strategy and implementation.  He served on the boards of Mount Sinai Hospital and Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital in Chicago, and served as the chair of the Board of the Committee on Professional Development and Quality of Medical Care. Geisler received the prestigious Medal of Excellence Award from the Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology.