Dr. Robert Thomas Elder, 74, of Hyde Park, died Nov. 10.
Memorial services will be conducted at a future date. Donnellan Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Anna Studencki; his children, Adam Elder and Lily Vincent; his twin brother, Vincent; his nieces and nephews, Carolyn Becker, Kathryn Reimler, Christina Madsen, Gerald Widstrom and Jeff Widstrom; and their families.
Elder was a cancer survivor and cancer victim. He was treated successfully for Hodgkin’s cancer at Stanford Medical Center in 1984, but he did not survive the chemotherapy treatments for his newly diagnosed esophageal cancer.
He graduated from Yankton High School (1966) and graduated from St. Olaf College in 1970 with dual degrees in chemistry and math. For the next two years, he served in the U.S. Army, also playing clarinet in the U.S. Army Band.
Then, he continued his education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he earned his doctorate in biochemistry and where he met his future wife. He spent his career as a research assistant, first at Stanford as a postdoctoral fellow, then as a faculty member at the University of Chicago and Texas A&M University and finally as a research fellow at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
Elder enjoyed traveling, photography, taking many pictures of family members, landscapes and flowers. He took his autistic son on many road trips, stopping at many sites along the way. They traveled to visit Adam’s mother and autistic sister in Montana. The family was separated by the unusual and difficult circumstances of finding appropriate, safe placements for their disabled children in the same state because one sibling can be served in a group home while the other needs to be served in a developmental center.
Elder’s remains were donated to the Illinois Anatomical Gift Society.
Elder was generous and contributed to many characters. Memorial donations may be made to the PACTT Learning Center and Residential Programs, 712 Belleforte Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302 or at pactt.org.