Saturday, December 05, 2009

Irv Piliavin's obituary

(From the LA Times)

Irving Morris Piliavin

Piliavin, Irving Morris
April 9, 1928 - November 19, 2009
Irving Morris Piliavin, 81, passed away on the morning of November 19, surrounded by members of his family, at his home in Oxnard, California. He was born to Russian Jewish immigrant parents in Los Angeles. Although not religious, he identified intensely with his Jewish heritage. From his youth, he was involved in athletic activities, first softball and baseball, then football, and later tennis. He was taking tennis lessons until a few weeks before he died, determined that in this as well as all else, he WOULD improve, and by all reports he did.
After graduating from Manual Arts High School, he attended UC Berkeley (Cal), receiving a BS in math and physics and a Masters of Social Work. After working in the field for a few years, he earned his Doctorate in Social Work Columbia University in 1961. He rose from Assistant to Associate Professor at Cal, where he received their highest honor for teaching, the Distinguished Teaching Award, in 1963.
In 1970, after two years at Penn, he moved to the University of Wisconsin, where he was Professor of Social Welfare and Sociology until his retirement in 1996. He was known as a generous mentor and a champion of the critical role of research in guiding social work practice long before it became fashionable. Among his academic research, he was well known for a ride-along study he did of the police, conducting subway studies of altruism, being the first to conduct a longitudinal study of homeless people, and for publishing various articles on control theories and rational choice analysis of crime. He continued to do research and write until very near the end of his life.
After his family, his academic work, and sports, his fourth passion was "games of chance." He took pride in the fact that he learned to count cards in blackjack so well that he was banned from all the casinos in London the year that he and his family lived in Wales. He was an accomplished poker player at all levels, from the "friendly" games he played in Berkeley, Wisconsin and Oxnard to satellite tournaments feeding the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. He went to the racetrack from his teens, when he climbed the fence at Santa Anita to get in, until 2009. He always refused to bet the favorite except when "wheeling" it with other longer shots. For that reason, the majority of the horses he bet came in second.
He is survived by his first wife, Florence, his second wife, Jane, four children, Mark, Neal, Allyn, and Libby, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
A scholarship fund has been created in his honor at the University of Wisconsin Foundation. Please contact Ann Dingman for donation information at ann.dingman@ or 608-265-9954

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