UA Professor Fang Lizhi was one of the organizers of the Tianenman Square protest in 1989.

James S. Wood

Before we close the book on 2012, we remember a few of the Southern Arizonans who died this year.

The University of Arizona community lost many leaders and professors, including retired provost and physicist Albert Weaver and Mary Roby, a pioneer in women's college athletics.

Astrophysicist Fang Lizhi became a powerful voice for democratic reform in China in the mid-1980s but was forced to flee and found a new home teaching at the UA.

Robert Leroy Thews also was a physicist. Charles T. Mason Jr. was a plant scientist. Philip Noel Knorr channeled his love of trees into a career as a professor of forestry. Fred F. Harcleroad Jr. was founding director of the Center for the Study of Higher Education. Lotus M. Knief was a professor of educational psychology and a recipient of the UA's outstanding educator prize.

Robert E. Calmes taught for 28 years in the College of Education and received the UA's distinguished service award. David Rubis taught for 30 years and researched safflower and oil seed production. Optics professor Bernhard "Bernie" Otto Seraphin guided more than 20 students to doctoral degrees. Lynn Allan Joens, a professor in the department of veterinary science and microbiology, had several grants in progress, including a $2.5 million grant from the USDA to pursue a vaccine for campylobacter in poultry.

Sigmund Eisner was a Chaucerian scholar and professor for more than 40 years.

Albert L. Picchioni started the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center. Dr. Robert Barbee Sr. taught internal medicine. Dr. M. Wayne Heine served as chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Arnold I. Hollander taught at the College of Medicine and was a Wildcat team doctor. An auditorium at the Poetry Center is named in honor of philanthropist Dorothy L. Rubel - a founder of the Humanities Seminars Program for senior citizens. Baritone Larry Day was a vocal professor for more than 20 years.

Also in the arts, Tucson lost music promoter Jonathan Holden, best known for his Rhythm & Roots series. Artist Duane "Dick" Bryers died at age 100.

Surgeon Rockwell E. Jackson was a former chief of staff at St. Joseph's Hospital. Lawyer Charles W. King served in the state House.

Naturalist Gale Monson shared his expertise about the birds of Arizona and Sonora through his books and field trips.

Self-described "foothills lady" Wanda Shattuck and geologist Doug Shakel raised hell to preserve the Sonoran Desert that they loved.

Retired Col. Richard J. Kiefer was base commander of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in 1974. Robert Daniel Anderson was a retired colonel, but his obituary said he found his calling when he became a teacher at Nogales High. There, he won local and state teaching awards.

Tucson native Edgar Suarez was a colleague at the Star for 62 years.

A sports all-star at Pueblo High in the 1950s, Larry Toledo became the first athletic director at Pima Community College.

Pianist and organist Elizabeth Ann Hairston Fortune was a beloved leader at Prince Chapel AME Church downtown. Raúl Rodriguez was also a downtowner. He shined shoes from a shop at La Placita Village for nearly 30 years.

The Rev. Cyprian Killackey, born in Ireland, served the Roman Catholic community of Tucson for more than 40 years through Santa Cruz and St. Margaret Mary parishes. About 10,000 Salpointe High students knew the Rev. John E. "Randal" Malley during his quarter-century at the school.

Robert "Bob" Stubbs practiced law and philanthropy and had a gusto for life. Real estate executive Paul Ash also was a philanthropist and a former president of the Tucson Jewish Community Center. Spencer Giffords ran El Campo Tire and was passionate about social issues and education. Rose Wartsky ran Rose Petal Dress Shop for nearly 40 years.

Mariann Shinoskie co-founded Tucson's Women's Birth and Health Center and went on to be a lawyer specializing in medical issues.

Golden Gloves champ Jack Vaughn became the second director of the Peace Corps and ambassador to Panama and Colombia. Carl Frieders loved Sierra Vista and was active in his town in many ways, including as mayor.

Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie was accidentally shot by another agent while working in a dangerous stretch of the border late at night. Larry Dever was Cochise County sheriff for 16 years and a fierce advocate for stronger border security.

We remember all of them for making Southern Arizona a better place.