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Volume 59, Number 31    April 9 , 2011         

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In Memoriam

Claude Gordon Alexander
Professor Emeritus of Biology Claude Gordon Alexander, known as "Alex" to his family and friends, was born in San Diego, Calif. on Sept. 15, 1924. He died on Saturday, March 17, 2012 in Redwood City, Calif. from congestive heart failure, with his wife and two daughters at his side.

Alexander was drafted into the Army in 1944 and served in France during World War II. After the war, he obtained his bachelor's and master's degrees in zoology at Oregon State University, then transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles, where he met and married Elizabeth (Betsy) Phelps Silver in 1954. After earning his Ph.D. from Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif. in 1955, he joined San Francisco State University, where he continued his research on the physiology and parasites of sharks, skates and rays -- including an interest in the parasites of freshwater fish along the Pacific Coast from Canada through Baja California, and the effects of water pollution on them.

But Alexander's great love was teaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate biology students at SF State. While he never held formal office hours, the doors to Alexander's office and lab were usually open, even on many nights and weekends to accommodate the difficult schedules of his working students. He retired in 1987 after 32 years of service.

Alexander is survived by his wife Betsy; his brother Bob; his sister Virginia; his children: Mark, Leigh and Kay; and five grandchildren. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on April 14 at Christ Episcopal Church, 815 Portola Road, Portola Valley, California. The family requests donations be made in lieu of flowers. For details and a donation link, visit or contact Biology Chair Michael A. Goldman at


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Last modified April 5, 2011 by University Communications.