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In Memoriam | Winter 2016

In Memoriam: Faculty & Friends

Notices sorted by graduation date

John C. Herr
June 28, 1948–September 17, 2016

Reproductive Biologist Put Research to Work

Dr. John C. Herr, a Charlottesville native, joined the UVA School of Medicine in 1981. The leader of UVA’s Center for Research in Contraception and Reproductive Health, he was most known as the enterprising reproductive biologist who invented the home male fertility test and led the search for a male contraceptive.

During his time at the University, he introduced his entrepreneurial expertise with other faculty members and was on the board of the University’s Licensing and Ventures Group, which helps researchers put their findings into practice. He was also a member of the UVA Patent Foundation.

Mr. Herr’s research covered a wide range of topics, from naming genes in the human genome to working on new cancer treatments. His laboratory announced in April that it had reached a milestone in the male contraceptive research project, and his protégés plan to continue that work in his absence. He was well-known by his colleagues for always looking for ways to convert his research into products that could be used by the public.

In 2015, Dr. Herr co-founded the company Contraline with a former student. He founded several other biotechnology companies around his ideas, including Humagen, Neoantigenics and Ovastasis.

He was also active in charity work, and had just completed a 10K run for charity at Meriwether Lewis Elementary School on the day of his passing.

Survivors include his wife, Mary Jo Herriman (a UVA staff member), and two children.


William “Bill” Anderson of Charlottesville died August 29, 2016. He was assistant professor in the Institute of Clinical Psychology and then staff psychologist at the Counseling Center at UVA in the 1980s. From his first solo at age five, Mr. Anderson loved to sing and often raised his rich tenor voice for the cause of world peace. He was also an avid reader, and one of the first 11 black students to attend Varina High School shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation case. During the Vietnam War, he was a conscientious objector and was not drafted. He received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Virginia Tech, and his doctorate in 1974 from the University of North Carolina, where he subsequently was associate professor of psychology for seven years. In 1981, Mr. Anderson joined the UVA faculty as assistant professor, and went on to become a licensed staff psychologist, providing therapy and outreach to the UVA community. Mr. Anderson also joined Trinity Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, which led to his service on the National Executive Council of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, the peace commission for the Episcopal Church and the National Council of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. He helped to found the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, of which he was chairman at the time of his passing. A fluent speaker of French and Spanish, he traveled to 15 countries on peace missions, singing with groups from the peace commission and Zephyrus, a Charlottesville choral group. He was the guest of Bishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa on a trip delivering school supplies to underprivileged villages. The Charlottesville community awarded Mr. Anderson, who was also a life member of the NAACP, its Martin Luther King Jr. Award in 1997. In 2014, the year he retired, UVA’s Serpentine Society gave him its Outstanding Service Award for contributions to LGBTQ causes on campus. Survivors include a sister and a niece, Jennifer D. Lawrence Green (Col ’05 L/M).

Brownie E. Polly Jr. of Big Stone Gap, Virginia, died August 4, 2016. Born in Appalachia and raised in the coal camp of Derby, Dr. Polly earned his bachelor’s degree from Emory & Henry College, where he played football and was a member of the 1951 Tangerine Bowl team. He earned his doctorate from the Medical College of Virginia and practiced dentistry in Big Stone Gap for 42 years. Dr. Polly was appointed to UVA’s Board of Visitors in 1970 by Gov. Linwood Holton. He later served on the boards of Clinch Valley College and Mountain Empire Community College. He is survived by three sons, including Brownie E. Polly III (Col ’81 L/M) and John V. Polly (Col ’91); a brother, George R. Polly (Educ ’72); and four grandchildren.

James Richard Rubin (Grad ’85, ’02) of Charlottesville died July 6, 2016. Mr. Rubin was a professor of management communications at UVA’s Darden School of Business for 25 years (from 1991 until his death), and for many years was an active player in Charlottesville’s jazz scene. As a young man, Mr. Rubin was one of the top jazz bassists in Boston, with regular gigs at places like the Parker House Hotel. At the University, he met his wife in the graduate student lounge at Wilson Hall; they were married in 1988. As a professor, he was the first faculty recipient of the Frederick S. Morton Award, which now annually recognizes a Darden student for excellence in leadership and the faculty member who contributed the most to that student’s Darden experience. He was also a founding member of Blues Jam, a band composed of Darden faculty and students that played regularly at Darden events. His forthcoming book, Rebuilding Trust in the Age of Social Media, scheduled for publication in early 2017, represents more than 20 years of research. Survivors include his wife, Jane Louise Perry (Grad ’82), and a son.

Mary Carroll Shemo of Charlottesville died July 3, 2016. She was director of the Student Health Service’s Psychiatric Division in the 1980s and 1990s, and later served as faculty for six years in the UVA School of Medicine. Dr. Shemo received her medical degree from West Virginia University, where she was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. She was recruited by the University of Virginia as director of the Student Health Service’s Psychiatric Division in 1979. She later entered private practice and was elevated to the position of distinguished life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Shemo enjoyed scuba trips through the Caribbean to learn about native plants and their uses in natural medicine. She was also skilled in choral singing, ballet and zen judo, and enjoyed cooking and gardening. Survivors include her husband, John P.D. Shemo, formerly of the School of Medicine; two daughters, Bryna C. Shemo Pfaffenberger (Col ’05, Grad ’08) and Cordelia P. Shemo Wolf (Col ’08); two brothers; and four sisters. At Dr. Shemo’s request, her brain is being donated for teaching purposes to the UVA department of neuro-oncology.