Published: Aug 19, 2012 12:05 AM
Modified: Aug 19, 2012 12:05 AM
Dr. J Richard Udry
UdryDr. J. Richard (Dick) Udry, 83, professor of maternal and child health and sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, died at his home in Chapel Hill, NC on July 29, after a long illness. He was 83.
Dr. Udry was a Kenan Distinguished Professor of maternal and child health in the School of Global Public Health and professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences. He also directed the University's Carolina Population Center (CPC) from 1977 to 1992. During his nearly 50-year career, Dr. Udry pioneered research that integrated biological and sociological models of human behavior in the areas of adolescent behavior and health, sexual behavior, and women's gender roles, and developed the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health).
He was also a great nature lover and an active Sierra Club hike leader. He hiked and camped all over the Carolina mountains, and photographed the wildflowers there.
Dick Udry was born and raised in Covington, Kentucky. He attended Northwestern University in Chicago where he met his future wife, Janice May. They married in 1950. Dr. Udry served in the Marine Corps during the Korean war. He played French Horn in the marching band at El Toro Marine Air Base at Santa Ana, California.
Dick earned a doctorate in sociology from the University of Southern California in 1960. After teaching briefly at Chaffey College and California State Polytechnic College, he moved in 1965 to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he remained for the rest of his career.
As CPC director, Dick initiated a fundamental shift in the center's mission from technical assistance to research.
"Dick created the center that exists now," said Dr. Barbara Entwisle, vice chancellor for research at UNC and Kenan Distinguished Professor of sociology. "The CPC administered more external awards than any other department, center or institute on campus in fiscal year 2012. Its core support from the National Institutes for Health is more than that for any other population center in the country."
Dick's emphasis on integrating biological and social sciences in the examination of population issues and demographic behavior remains one of the center's hallmarks. "As a scholar, he worked on topics that were at times controversial," Dr. Entwisle said. "He was way ahead of his time."
In addition to his work in the scientific and academic worlds, Dick was a longtime Sierra Club member and avid outdoorsman. During a 20-year span, he led more than 200 hikes and outings that brought people closer to the natural spaces that he enjoyed and worked to protect. He gave short commentary about history, plants, trees and birds along the way. In 2003 he received the Joseph LeConte Award, the Sierra Club's highest honor.
He is survived by his wife, Janice May Udry, of Chapel Hill; daughters, Leslie Udry of Chapel Hill and Susan Udry Martin of Round Rock, Texas; and a granddaughter, Felicia Martin, also of Texas.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Instead of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the North Carolina Sierra Club, 112 South Blount Street, Raleigh, N.C., 27601.
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