Molecular & Cellular Biology

Revealing the secrets of nature & educating next generation of science innovators

In Memoriam: Dr. Wayne R. ("Sam") Ferris, 1921-2014

In Memoriam: Dr. Wayne R. ("Sam") Ferris, 1921-2014

Monday, February 3, 2014

The life of Wayne R. Ferris quietly slipped away on February 3, 2014. His death was preceded by that of his wife, Edel, in 2003. His is survived by his son, Paul, of Winslow, AZ. Professor Ferris was born in the small coal mining community of Lockman, Iowa, on March 21, 1921. He attended school in Albia, Iowa. He had only one college degree, the PhD, awarded to him by the University of Chicago in 1959.  While in school there he acquired the nickname, Sam, which was used by many of his friends and colleagues for the rest of his life.

 During World War II, Professor Ferris became a Marine flyer and spent significant hours as a dive bomber pilot in the Pacific campaign. He participated in many of the major battles of the Pacific war. After the war he was a merchant seaman on the Great Lakes and at sea. Later, he continued his education at the University of Chicago where he studied cell biology and became a pioneer in the use of the electron microscope. This expertise led him to the University of Arizona where he joined the zoology faculty in 1958.

Sam Ferris taught cell biology for the length of his career at Arizona while at the same time was an active researcher. Often he collaborated with other colleagues, especially when the techniques of electron microscopy were called for. He trained PhD students of his own and often aided students of others.

Sam Ferris was unselfish with his time and served willingly as an undergraduate advisor. He also spent countless hours as faculty representative on graduate college examinations. Sam treated students with a respect that was reciprocated. His kindness and understanding of the problems of the young made him an extraordinary undergraduate advisor, especially in later years when undergraduate advising achieved more attention.

Among other interests, Sam was a lover of books and long served on the University Library Committee. He was also a ham radio operator which was not only a personal hobby, but a service to the community.