Notices sorted by graduation date.

James Dunstan (Darden ’73 L/M) of Charlottesville died March 22, 2020. He graduated from Yale University at 19 with a degree in engineering before serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II and the Korean War. Mr. Dunstan began his business career as General Cable’s youngest plant manager and concluded at Essex Wire, where he was its youngest vice president. After earning a doctorate in finance from Darden in less than four years, he taught there as a tenured professor until 1994. In that time, he was an examination administrator for Charter Financial Analysts, active in executive training programs, and director of public utilities for the Virginia State Corporation Commission. He also worked for Harry Byrd in the U.S. Senate. Mr. Dunstan served on the boards of many organizations, both nonprofit and for-profit, including nine Fortune 500 companies, Martha Jefferson Hospital and the UVA Health Science Foundation. While on the board of Charlottesville Catholic School, he facilitated the building of St. Dunstan Chapel. A dynamic and talented teacher and morally strong leader imbued with a generous spirit, he was a member of the Oliver Turner Society and UVA’s Raven Society, and he was honored as a Knight of Malta. He always said he had been most fortunate in family, and was grateful to have married two wonderful women—Betty, the mother of his children, and Julia, who truly enlivened him. Survivors include his wife, Julia; children Robert, James Dunstan Jr. (Med ’76), and Elizabeth Maddux; eight grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; and a brother. 


Roberta Gaetz Palmer (Educ ’74) of Fairfax, Virginia, died Dec. 20, 2019. After graduating from Susquehanna University in 1948 and teaching for several years, she spent much of her career as the head librarian for a junior high school. Her interest in helping the many nonnative English speakers at her school adjust more easily through audiovisual aids led her to write several well-regarded articles and to earn a midlife master’s degree from UVA. She spent much of her free time caring for her large flower garden. She loved traveling, attending ballets, studying the Bible and meeting people from other countries. On a visit to England in her middle years, she was unaware of her astonishing resemblance to Queen Elizabeth II and had no idea why people were curtsying to her. She particularly treasured the memory of a face-to-face encounter with the queen on a visit in 1976, when the monarch looked at her, shook her head and laughed. Ms. Palmer fell in love with folk dancing in her mid-50s and particularly enjoyed making and purchasing costumes for various period events. This work led to an interview on the Larry King Show; a conversation slated for five minutes lasted for the full hour as they discussed her retirement exploits that included solo-hiking glaciers in Iceland in her early 80s. King, the man who had interviewed “everyone,” told her at the end of the program that she was the most engaging and interesting person he had ever met. Survivors include her daughter, Heather.


John Howard Staub III (Col ’74) of Wrightstown, Pennsylvania, and Manalapan, Florida, died Jan. 22, 2020. An Echols Scholar at UVA, he worked at the Grenfell Mission in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and was a docent at Fort Ticonderoga during summer breaks. An actor, advertising executive, playwright, gourmet cook and lecturer, Mr. Staub was a man of many talents. He and his partner, Renny Reynolds, transformed a 100-acre, bramble-choked Pennsylvania Dutch dairy farm in Wrightstown into Hortulus Farm Garden and Nursery, a horticultural destination widely featured in gardening and travel magazines. Mr. Staub was the author of seven gardening books, including Private Edens, which was acclaimed by The New York Times as the top-rated gardening book of 2016. He and Renny lectured extensively across the country and around the globe. His most recent book, Chasing Eden, a history of the farm and its gardens with horticultural teachings, is listed as a bestseller on Amazon. Survivors include his partner, his father and five siblings. 


Thomas D. Ardern (Engr ’75 L/M) of Hampton, Virginia, died Oct. 17, 2019. At UVA, he was a leader in the U.S. Air Force ROTC and the Society of American Military Engineers, played numerous intramural sports, and earned his pilot’s license flying at Charlottesville Albemarle Airport. He received his master’s degree in engineering from Widener University and served in the U.S. Air Force for 30 years as an instructor and fighter pilot before retiring as a colonel. During his career, Col. Ardern commanded an F-16 squadron, served as vice commander of the 8th Fighter Wing and directed the Air Force Wargaming Institute. His final assignment was with the Air Combat Command Inspector General. After retirement from active duty, Col. Ardern worked for L-3 Communications as a modeling and simulation analyst before he returned to the Air Force to lead teams preparing bases to accept F-35 aircraft. Survivors include his wife, Susan, and daughter, Cassandra Ardern (Col ’18). 


Tracy Crisp Graudin (Nurs ’78) of Charleston, South Carolina, formerly of Alexandria, Virginia, died Feb. 4, 2020. After graduating from the nursing school, she worked as a neonatal nurse at the UVA Medical Center before accepting a job at the Medical University of South Carolina. After several years of working in the NICU, she became a newborn nursery nurse at Roper Saint Francis Hospital in Charleston. A dedicated and loving wife, mother and grandmother, she home- schooled her three children for several years while also working night shifts at the hospital. She was an active parishioner at St. Philip’s Church, where she served on the vestry as junior warden. Survivors include her husband, Steve; children Ryan, Jacob and Adam; a granddaughter; and two sisters. 


Thomas A. Spraggins (Col ’79, Grad ’86 L/M) of Palmyra, Virginia, died Oct. 17, 2019. After earning his bachelor’s in chemistry and a doctorate in biophysical chemistry, he worked for Siemens Medical from 1986 to 1990 in the field of magnetic resonance imaging. In 1990, he returned to UVA as an assistant professor of radiology and director of the Siemens/UVA Radiologic Research Laboratory, where he was granted numerous patents. He continued at UVA working in health systems information technology until his retirement in 2015. Survivors include a brother, Chip Spraggins (Com ’84 L/M) and a niece, Carly Spraggins (Col ’15, Batten ’16).