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Updated 9:00 AM March 20, 2009
 

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Obituaries
Merla Wolk

Merla Wolk, a senior lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literature, died Feb. 10.

Wolk received her doctorate in English from Wayne State University in 1981. She joined U-M as a lecturer in 1986 and continued to teach until shortly before her death. In 2002 she was awarded the distinction of a senior lecturership, and the honor delighted her, colleagues say. She was a beloved member of the department, who was always willing to help her students and colleagues, and who brought to collective efforts her own unique blend of graciousness and much appreciated honesty, colleagues add.

She made substantial contributions to designing and teaching the department's undergraduate curriculum. Although she loved teaching writing and literature courses from beginning to advanced levels, her favorite course was the senior-level Victorian Novel, in which she had the opportunity to teach the books she loved most: books she lived and breathed and covered with small, neat notes in many colors of ink.

Her favorite place to teach was Florence, Italy. She taught there for several years, and enjoyed sampling gelato, exploring the sights with her students and, when school was out, driving with her husband to stunningly romantic villas, where she spent some part of her leisure crafting travel letters to her friends.

In her 22 years of teaching at U-M, she meticulously planned each course and session. She typed her notes and structure for each class session, noting what she found personally important in each book, and planned how she could use the text to develop her students' interpretive skills. Students say they found her courses intellectually challenging, felt pushed to do more and better work, and found their writing significantly improved under her guidance.

She was honored in a long string of teaching awards. Wolk also made substantial contributions outside the classroom. She was one of the department's Academic Advisors (1996-2008), and she served on numerous committees at U-M.

Wolk's colleagues appreciated her as a reliable and steady person with a bright, empathetic outlook. Over the years, she mentored hundreds of graduate students learning to teach first-year writing. Many of her colleagues and graduate students say they are indebted to her for help with their teaching and scholarship.

A memorial is planned for 4-5:30 p.m. March 25 in Auditorium B of Angell Hall.

David Bay

David Bay was the self-described "photographer-at-large" for 34 years for the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and its predecessor departments. He died Feb. 21 at the age of 60.

Born May 17, 1948, Bay was a fixture around the University campus, touching the lives of hundreds of faculty, students and staff with his expertise, humor and good nature. Bay assisted with and enhanced the work of many professors, graduate students and staff with his photographic skills, keen eye for graphic design and consulting for the advancement of science. He expertly photographed subjects from microscopic DNA segments to his life-size colleagues. He had a gift of capturing the essence of his photography subjects. Bay brightened up the workplace with his smile and sense of humor, friends and colleagues say. In the words of his younger brother, Allen Bay, "We love the photographs, but we really love the photographer."

One graduate student shared the story of asking Bay for a copy of the flyer he made for her seminar. A couple of days later, she was delighted to find the flyer enlarged and laminated on her desk. Another former graduate student recalled going out to lunch for Indian food regularly with Bay and other colleagues and how Bay would never give his actual name while waiting in line. He often had to think a bit when having to give his real name. A co-worker once mentioned how pretty the poppies were, blooming in back of the Natural Science Building, only to find a beautiful print of the same poppies on her desk a few days later. This was Bay's way. Thoughtful and compassionate and always ready to lend an ear; some called him the staff psychologist.

Bay was the son of the late Joseph and Ann (Sherman) Bay. He is survived by his wife Susan Field Campbell; sons Spence John Bay and Joseph David Bay; grandchildren Abigail, Jackson, Emma and Natalie Bay; siblings JoAnn Glover, Janet Chiesa, Allen Bay, Karen Jewell, Timothy Bay and Susan Webb, as well as aunts and many cousins, nieces, nephews and a multitude of friends.

He loved riding his BMW motorcycles, and sailing with family and friends on Lakes Erie, St. Clair and Superior. He enjoyed a wide range of music, and attended numerous concerts with family and friends. He enjoyed playing squash at the Central Campus Recreation Building for many years. He coached and played softball, led a Cub Scout troop, and coached baseball and soccer teams for his sons. Bay graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in psychology. He was the photographer for the Wayne State student newspaper, The South End, in the late 1960s.

Contributions in Bay's memory can be made to the following organizations: Food Gatherers (www.foodgatherers.org), Huron River Watershed Council (www.hrwc.org), Detroit Symphony Orchestra (www.detroitsymphony.com), the University Musical Society (www.ums.org), WEMU Michigan Public Radio (www.wemu.org), Friends of Chamber Music at Pease Auditorium (www.chambermusicatpease.org), or the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology David Bay Photography Fund (www.eeb.lsa.umich.edu) to support the needs of graduate students in photography and graphics.

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