To University of Notre Dame geneticist Harvey A. Bender, science was more than a technical discipline — it was an adventure story.
That's what his daughter, Dr. Leslie Bender, of Baltimore, recalls about her dad, who died Saturday at the age of 78.
Leslie Bender says she and her brothers calculated that their dad taught more than 14,500 students since he arrived in 1960 at Notre Dame, where he was a professor of biological sciences and director of its human genetics program.
His research included human developmental genetics and the epidemiology of human genetic disease and he
served as the founding director of the Regional Genetics Center at Memorial Hospital in South Bend. He was also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a founding fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics.
"Dr. Bender was a fine man, a wonderful faculty member and he was very good to me," said the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame. "I was very happy to have him here and he and his works has had a lasting effect on the lives of thousands of students over the years. "
Bender was named a Carnegie Scholar in 2001 and received the Distinguished Hoosier Award, one of the state's highest honors, in 2006 for his teaching, research and community service.
Leslie Bender noted that her father was "passionate about his family" and "frequently sprinkled anecdotes about his children and grandchildren in lectures and daily conversation."
She recalled how he "often greeted his friends and family members with an early morning e-mail putting planning details together for a family rendezvous, reacting to a piece of news, local trivia, or expressing disappointment in the performance of his Cleveland Indians."
Bender earned his undergraduate degree at Case Western Reserve University and master’s and doctoral degrees at Northwestern University.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Eileen, and is survived by his three children, Leslie; Samuel, of New York; and Philip, of Washington, D.C.; companion Rosalind Tucker, of Granger; and eight grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Temple Beth-El, 305 W. Madison St.