In Memoriam: Pera Poswianski Wirszup, 1915-2015

wirszupPera Wirszup, a former lecturer in the department of Slavic languages and literatures at the University of Chicago, died on August 20 at her home in Hyde Park on the South Side of Chicago. She was 100 years old.

Along with her husband Izaak, the Wirszups served as resident masters of the Woodward Court Dormitory at the University of Chicago from 1971-1985. Izaak Wirszup, who died in 2008, was a professor of mathematics at the university.

Pera Wirszup was born in what is now Vilnius, Lithuania. She lost her first husband and many members of her family in the Holocaust. Izaak joined the faculty at the University of Chicago in 1949, while Pera rose through the ranks to become an executive at Peck & Peck, a women’s clothing store chain. Fluent in six languages, she began teaching Russian at the University of Chicago in 1980. She taught at the university until 1992.

Robert Fefferman, the Max Mason Distinguished Service Professor in Mathematics at the University of Chicago, stated that “it is amazing that Izaak and Pera, after all that they endured during the second World War, could be such magnificent examples of kindness and generosity. Through a most remarkable collaboration, they greatly improved the quality of life on our campus for generations of students and colleagues alike.”

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