Sigmund Suskind

[ Age 80 ] Widely published biology professor served as dean of arts and sciences at the Johns Hopkins University

December 12, 2006|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,sun reporter

Sigmund Richard Suskind, a retired microbiologist who had been dean of arts and sciences at the Johns Hopkins University and the first ombudsman for its Homewood campus, died of cancer complications Dec. 5 at Chester River Hospital in Chestertown. The former Mount Washington resident was 80.

Born and raised in New York City, he was the son of Seymour Suskind, an NBC Symphony Orchestra violinist who played for maestro Arturo Toscanini. Family members said the younger Mr. Suskind did not share his father's ability - although he appreciated music throughout his life.

Dr. Suskind enlisted in the Navy at age 17 and served as a medic during World War II.

He earned a biology degree from New York University and in 1954 received his doctorate from Yale University.

Dr. Suskind joined the Hopkins faculty in 1956 and was named professor of biology in 1965. He conducted research in immunochemistry, biochemistry and genetics. He was also associated with the National Science Foundation.

During the 1970s he served as dean of academic programs, and he was dean of arts and sciences from 1978 to 1983.

"He had wonderful capabilities and tremendous determination and willpower," said his son Richard Suskind of Baltimore. "He was a man of high principles. He lived by his word and was dedicated to his work and to his family."

In 1988, then-Hopkins President Steven Muller named him to the new position of ombudsman at the Homewood campus. "I don't expect that I will be able to solve all the problems and difficulties that will be brought to me, but over the years I learned to be a very good listener," Dr. Suskind told colleagues of the appointment.

Dr. Suskind was the author of numerous scholarly articles and co-wrote Gene Action, a 1965 textbook in a Prentice Hall series on the foundations of modern genetics.

After retiring in 1991, he moved to Wharton in Kent County, where he earlier had bought a farm. He sailed his 32-foot sloop, Chinook, and became active in the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

He also owned and drove a series of sports cars - his last one a Porsche 911-S that he bought in 1977 and drove for nearly 30 years.

"He was a highly skilled driver," his son said. "He liked to drive country roads - out Falls Road and at Loch Raven Reservoir."

Services were held Friday.

Survivors also include his wife of 55 years, the former Ann Parker; two other sons, Mark Suskind of Monkton and Steven Suskind of Columbia; and two grandchildren.

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