Tribute for John Dobelman, "gift of intellect, love and passion"

Dear Rice Colleagues,

John Dobelman

I’m saddened to inform you that John Dobelman, professor in the practice of statistics, died at 65. His death comes 25 years after his first cancer diagnosis.

John’s colleague Katherine Ensor, Noah G. Harding Professor of Statistics, recalls him as “a gift of intellect, love and passion to the university.” John was deeply committed to Rice, having earned three degrees from the university: a bachelor’s in electrical engineering, a master’s in business and public management and Ph.D. in statistics.

At Rice, John was the founding director of the Statistics Professional Master’s Program in the George R. Brown School of Engineering, a program that he grew to international prominence. Since 2011, he co-directed with Ensor the Center for Computational Finance and Economic Systems (CoFES), founded in 2002. With the support of his family, including his late mother and Rice alumna Katherine (Kay) Bayless Dobelman, he established the Dobelman Family Chair in Statistics.

John worked with Marek Kimmel, professor of statistics, to help develop the National Science Foundation-sponsored Q-Bio (Quantitative Biology) summer program for graduate students and postdocs. John had Marek as an instructor for Statistical Quality Control before becoming Marek’s friend and colleague “on the grounds of common views of society and human nature.”

Rudy Guerra, professor and chair of statistics, described John as a “wonderful colleague, a respected scholar, a caring teacher, a great team player and a very loyal Rice alum,” who would often follow his students’ careers long after they left Rice.

One of John’s former students, Max Lee, director of commodity and FX systematic strategy trading for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said “I don’t think I’ve met a kinder, more selfless teacher, mentor and friend.”

I invite you to read more about John and his impact at Rice here.

He is survived by his wife Kathleen Dobelman, their children and grandchildren. Services will be held at 2 p.m. on May 20 at Memorial Oaks, 13001 Katy Freeway, Houston.

Warm regards,