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Mark Shwartz, News Service (650) 723-9296; e-mail:

David C. Regnery, professor of biological sciences, dies at 82

David Cook Regnery, 82, professor emeritus in the Department of Biological Sciences, died at Stanford Hospital on May 9 from cardiac arrest.

Regnery was born in La Grange, Ill., on June 26, 1918, and moved with his family to San Diego County when he was a child. In 1936, he enrolled at Stanford, where he was an avid athlete and actor, performing in Shakespeare's Richard II and other plays.

“Having appeared before large groups of people makes it seem not so difficult to face a lecture class of 500,” he told the Stanford Daily years later.

In 1941, after receiving a bachelor's degree, Regnery attended the summer marine biology program at Woods Hole, Mass., then enrolled as a graduate student at Caltech. His studies were interrupted by World War II, when he decided to enlist in the Navy, where he served as a corpsman epidemiologist from 1943 to 1946.

He returned to Caltech and received his doctorate in 1947.

That same year, Regnery joined Stanford's biological sciences faculty and quickly assumed responsibility for many of the introductory classes, which he taught for more than 20 years. He also taught upper-division courses in eukaryotic genetics and the ecology of disease. He is remembered for his genuine commitment to excellence in teaching and for the number of students that he inspired.

“He came in contact with literally thousands of students over the years – graduates and undergraduates,” recalled his son, Russell, a microbiologist with the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

“He was a very effective teacher,” added longtime colleague David Perkins, professor emeritus of biological sciences at Stanford. “He was very innovative in the things he chose to investigate and the ways he went about it.”

Regnery's research interests included transplantation immunology-genetics in fish, population genetics of animal communities, genetics of disease resistance and the natural history of viral disease in native mammals, such as brush rabbits, voles and rodents. His research often involved taking blood samples from wild populations of small animals at Stanford's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve and on the rugged Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco. He also enjoyed a productive sabbatical year from 1962 to 1963 at the Australian National University's John Curtin School of Medical Research in Canberra.

Regnery remained on the faculty until 1988, when he became professor emeritus.

Regnery was married to Dorothy Farris, a prominent regional historian and preservationist. The couple raised three children in Portola Valley during their 44 years of marriage. Dorothy died on April 11, 1990.

They are survived by their daughter, Roberta, of Jacksonport, Wis.; sons Richard of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., and Russell of Tucker, Ga.; and two grandchildren. Regnery also is survived by his sister, Ruth Paine, of Pomona, Calif., and his brother, Rolland, of Los Altos.

Donations in the name of David Regnery can be made to the Peninsula Open Space Trust, 3000 Sand Hill Road, Building 4, Suite 135, Menlo Park, CA 94025, phone (650) 854-7696. He requested that no public service be held.


By Mark Shwartz

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