Richard Paul Taub

Richard Paul Taub, Professor Emeritus of the University of Chicago, sociologist of urban, rural, and community economic development, died peacefully at his home in Santa Fe, NM, on Aug. 19, at the age of 83. 

He was born in Brooklyn, NY, on April 16, 1937, grew up in Great Neck, NY, and earned his BA at the University of Michigan, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Michigan Daily. He earned both his MA in 1962 and PhD in 1966 in Sociology at Harvard University, where he met his first wife, Doris Leventhal. Together, they conducted field research in India in the 1960s and during two trips in the 1970s, with their two young children, Neela and Zach, in tow.

Richard began his academic career at Brown University before moving to the University of Chicago for a career that spanned 50 years. When Richard and Doris moved to Kenwood in 1969, they joined a community filled with other young families.. His children both attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, and then St. Thomas the Apostle School, where Richard served as an active and engaged Chair of the Board.

At the University, Richard taught across a range of departments and programs, including Sociology, Comparative Human Development, and Public Policy. He published multiple books, primarily in the field of urban sociology.  He inspired generations of students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, serving as a valued mentor, dedicated advisor, and strong champion of promoting greater racial and ethnic diversity in all parts of the academic world. He was wholeheartedly committed to seeking real-world policy solutions to the challenges facing underserved communities. 

Besides his academic pursuits, Richard was deeply involved in the Hyde Park-Kenwood community and the greater South Side. He served on the boards of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and of the South Shore Bank (ShoreBank Corporation). He also served as a long-term board member of the Seminary Cooperative Bookstore in Hyde Park. 

Ron Grzywinski, a former neighbor and co-founder, Chairman, and CEO of ShoreBank Corporation, remembers Richard as “a remarkable guy.  He was a productive scholar, ferociously protective academic chair, and engaged board member. More than that, Richard was a stalwart supporter of the community, a wonderful neighbor, and a terrific life-long friend.”

After Doris L. Taub’s death in 1996, Richard married Betty Farrell in 2000, and they moved from Kenwood to Streeterville. Following their joint retirement from the University of Chicago in 2016, Richard and Betty moved to Santa Fe, NM. Despite leaving Chicago, they retained strong ties to friends, cultural and civic organizations, and to many of the University of Chicago programs Richard had nurtured and led. 

Richard is survived by his wife Betty; children Neela (and partner Vanessa S.C. Prell) and Zach (and wife Nachi Iijima-Taub); grandsons Noah and Elijah; and a large extended family who deeply feel his loss.

Richard Taub’s legacy lives on in family, friends, colleagues, former students, and communities in both Chicago and Santa Fe. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to Chicago’s Crossroads Fund (https://crossroadsfund.org/donate) or to the American Civil Liberties Union (https://www.aclu.org/give/ways-to-give). 

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