Obituary - Judith Flippen-Anderson (1941 - 2018)

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Memories of Judith Flippen-Anderson

Judith Flippen-Anderson 

It is with much sadness that we report that Judith Flippen-Anderson, a past president of the ACA, passed away on March 31, 2018 in Annandale, Virginia, at the age of 76. Judy was a graduate of Northeastern University and Arizona State University, and worked for more than thirty years at the Naval Research Laboratory as an X-Ray Crystallographer. She also worked as Corporate Secretary of the Board of Directors at the American Institute of Physics, a researcher at the Protein Data Bank at Rutgers University, and was serving as Co-Editor of the ACA RefleXions.

Memories of Judy

Helen Berman:

Judy was a force. She had so many aspects to her being that it is difficult to highlight just a few. I first met her at an ACA meeting in the early 70’s. We had a lot in common; we were both small molecule crystallographers; we were both raised in Jewish households in the Northeast and we both had defining regional accents that we never quite lost. I was struck by her enormous energy and spirit and it was clear even back then that Judy was going to make a difference in the world.

Fast forward to the 80’s when we were both on Council. We definitely made the most of our friendship and worked hard to come up with better ways of running the organization. This involved strategic brainstorming as well as actually doing the work necessary to implement the ideas. The most fun was working with her on the Philadelphia ACA meeting where we managed to hire a Benjamin Franklin impersonator who attended the banquet at the Franklin Institute and where Judy gave a most remarkable and memorable past presidents speech. She was also the Editor of the newsletter that evolved into a wonderful and colorful account of the ACA activities. Unlike most past presidents Judy managed to find a way to stay involved so she could help move the ACA to new places. The most remarkable of these accomplishments was to help establish an ACA journal-Structural Dynamics.

All the work that Judy did for the ACA was in addition to her successful career at NRL that resulted in more than 500 structures in the CSD. When she retired from NRL, she came to work for the RCSB PDB where she played many important roles and from which she retired only two years ago.

On a personal front, I always looked forward to my many trips to Washington where I would stay with Judy and Paul and enjoy memorable meals in the many restaurants they enjoyed. I had the privilege of hearing about her daughter Chenoa and husband Emilio who are very successful professors at the University of Pennsylvania. And of course, she was so proud and happy to be bubbe to two beautiful grandchildren.

In 2003, we decided to do a road trip across America when I turned 60. We had many adventures as we explored the vast stretches of the Midwest, ate barbeque, drove on scary roads in the Rockies, hiked in Utah, and gambled in Las Vegas. It was so much fun for both of us and I feel lucky to have experienced it.

I will always miss Judy with her intellect, her wit, her warmth, her expansive laugh, her Boston accent and her fantastic earrings. I feel lucky to have been part of her circle.

Judith Flippen-Anderson

Naval Research Laboratory 1984, outside the NRL front gate
Back: Pete D’Antonio, Judy Flippen-Anderson, Cliff George, Janet Smith, Steve Brenner, Richard Gilardi, Isabella Karle, Jerome Karle.
Front: John Konnert, Lynn Graham, Al Lowrey, Wayne Hendrickson.
Photo courtesy Judy Flippen-Anderson.

Connie Rajnak:

I knew Judy from ACA meetings ever since I started going to ACA meetings, but didn’t know her well until my sabbatical in DC in 1985, when we really bonded. In 1985-86 I spent a sabbatical at NRL. Every day Judy and I would sit at the lunch table with Isabella and Jerome Karle, Cliff George, Richard Gilardi, Peter D’Antonio, Jeff Deschamps, Steve Brenner, Mary Ann Perrozo, and occasionally, John Konnert. We would talk about all kinds of things - including politics and current news. During my time at NRL, I went to dinner with Judy and Paul either at an ethnic restaurant or at their house. They have a lovely home in Annandale, Virginia which had a ‘bubble’ jutting out from their dining room about 3 ft. and they grew all kinds of desert plants (sun during the day, outside feel at night). Their living room featured a big thing that was a part of the NRL computer which Paul replaced - it was to remember how they met. Judy and Paul complemented each other so well. Paul loved to cook and garden and Judy loved to eat. I well remember the visit to your house when you both had a good laugh when I tasted one of your hot chilis. Paul was a perfectionist in all things and KNEW about computers. They both loved art. Judy contributed by sharing her friends (95% of the people she knew). They both loved Chenoa and when she married Emilio and they had children they both loved them all.

Judith Flippen-Anderson

Photo in 1985 showing party at Keith Ward’s house in celebration of Jerome Karle winning the Nobel Prize.
Back row: Keith Ward, Doug Collins and his wife, Isabella Karle, Jerome Karle, Pete D'Antonio, Janet Smith,
Cliff George, Al Lowrey, Richard Gilardi.
Front row: Diane Ward, Judy Flippen-Anderson, Steve Sheriff, John Konnert.
Photo courtesy Judy Flippen-Anderson.

One day I was leaving NRL with Judy and we were talking and descending the semi-circular steps and I just fell flat on my face on the pavement. The next day Judy brought a camera and took a picture of my face with the resulting black eye. She then emailed it to Dave Duchamp saying ‘This is what I’m going to do to you if you don’t send those programs! (My original sabbatical proposal involved crystallizing a peptide 5 or 6 amino acids in length. I had brought several, but they were taking longer to crystallize than I had expected and I wanted to fill in by installing Dave’s CRYM suite of programs on the NRL computer, Dave had previously agreed to this, but had not yet sent that suite of programs.

And then there were the ACA Newsletter/ACA RefleXions days. I was an Editor from the time I took over from Jenny Glusker, and I was the first to send it to Buffalo for printing and sending to ACA members. It was first called the ACA Newsletter - we came later to call it ACA RefleXions. I don’t remember who came up with that classy name, it certainly wasn’t me. I decided that there should be 4 issues per year, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, and then decided it was taking too much time away from my real job at The Upjohn Company, so I recruited Judy to edit two of the issues. Jenny had, as I remember, 6 issues, sent by email by her secretary to all ACA members.

Judy was President of the ACA long before I was, but she understood from that experience why I would need a break as Co-Editor for the duration of my time on Council. 

Sue Byram:

It won’t be the same at ACA without Judy. Colleagues of all ages are already sadly sharing this sentiment. I knew Judy first as the ‘go-to’ person at Naval Research Laboratory, the person to get things done at the Nobel Prize-winning Laboratory for the Structure of Matter. We had fun together at ACA meetings from the 70’s onwards. The group of women in crystallography was rather smaller than today and we all enjoyed getting together. I recall Judy at one memorable party held in my hotel just across the line from an alcohol-free (‘dry’) location where the ACA meeting was located. We were still laughing at the ACA Philadelphia meeting in 2015, where Judy sparred with‘Rocky’.

Judy welcomed everybody to ACA, kept us on track with timely submissions to ACA RefleXions and the IUCr newsletter (which she edited during Bill Duax’ tenure as IUCr president), and encouraged more than a few crystallographic volunteers. I will miss her laugh and her warmth a lot.


Judith Flippen-Anderson

Photo courtesy Angie Zwicker, Bruker AXS

Michael James:

Judy was an extraordinary person. She took on many projects during the time that I knew her and did all of them exceptionally well. Throughout her lifetime, she dedicated a tremendous amount of time and energy to the American Crystallographic Association. She served as President of the ACA in 1991 and brought about many new additions and changes to its operation. For example, she was instrumental in establishing the Canadian Representative as a member of the ACA Council. Our friendship began at one of the ACA meetings in the early 1970s and has continued until now. I will miss her greatly.

Following her graduate studies at the University of Arizona, she travelled to Washington DC and eventually got a position at the US Naval Research Laboratory as a Crystallographer. Many of her early crystal structure studies were done with Isabella Karle and were determined by the newly developed “direct methods” of the symbolic addition procedure being developed by Jerome Karle.

It was always a pleasure to attend the annual (in the early days the meetings were held twice a year!) meetings of the ACA. It was a chance to meet up with old friends and especially with Judy. It always seemed that the excitement of the meeting revolved around her. Her strong interests were in convincing the young people at the meeting for the first time how important it was to make friends that would last a lifetime. Indeed it was true and through Judy I met many of the important crystallographers at the ACA meetings and through them developed collaborations and research colleagues that have lasted a lifetime. Judy was an inspiration to me and helped, perhaps unknowingly, to develop my career.

Judy loved to travel. Quite recently her husband Paul and Judy took the “Rocky Mountaineer” a train and bus trip that travels through the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It starts by train from scenic Vancouver in British Columbia and finishes with a bus trip from Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff. Needless to say both Paul and Judy were thrilled by the trip. “Imagine we walked on the Columbia Ice Fields Glacier,” she wrote to me in an email after they returned home. Knowing Judy, she and Paul made many new friends from Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Canada and the USA. In her email Judy extolled the unimaginable scenery and the great enjoyment that she and Paul both had on that trip.

I will miss Judy at future ACA meetings. I was so looking forward to see her at the coming Toronto meeting. Judy always worked very hard for the ACA. It pleases me that there are many young crystallographers that are members now and they will keep the spirit that Judy established alive in the ACA.

Tom Koetzle:

Judy was a treasured colleague and a dear friend, and I miss her terribly. I will especially remember the past four years working alongside Judy as co-editors of RefleXions, and I have many fond memories from our long-standing friendship of decades. Judy was truly a ‘force of nature’. She had an impressive career as a small-molecule crystallographer for thirty-five years at the Naval Research Laboratory and, following her retirement from NRL, worked with the RCSB Protein Data Bank. Through her many contributions to ACA over the years, Judy had an incalculable influence on the operations and development of the Association. In recent years, she threw herself into championing the inception and growth of Structural Dynamics, ACA’s flagship journal published jointly with AIP. She was very proud of the journal’s success, and it will be an important part of Judy’s rich legacy.

In addition to our love of crystallography, Judy and I had in common our strong associations to the greater Boston area. I just loved Judy’s New England accent — it did so remind me of my own student years in Cambridge, Mass.

The ACA community has suffered a great loss. We shall surely miss Judy’s wisdom and wit. Our annual meetings will not be the same without Judy, her incredible energy, and her willingness to volunteer for any task large or small!

Virginia Pett:

Judy was a small-molecule crystallographer at the Laboratory for the Structure of Matter (Naval Research Laboratory) for 35 years. A steadfast supporter of the ACA, she was president in 1991, a member of the meeting site selection committee for many years, co-editor of the ACA RefleXions magazine, and one of the prime movers behind the formation of the new ACA journal Structural Dynamics. She was past president of the US National Committee for Crystallography and a former editor of the IUCr Newsletter. A long-time representative to the American Institute of Physics (AIP) Executive Committee and the Governing Board, she was elected in 2013 to the office of AIP Corporate Secretary. Judy was a passionate advocate of causes she supported and she had the ability to cut to the heart of the issue under discussion. She welcomed many of us to ACA annual meetings at the registration desk. We will miss her friendship and warmth and devotion to our society.

Jenny Glusker:

It is with great sadness that I heard of the death of Judy Flippen-Anderson. She contributed so much to structural studies by X-ray diffraction, and to the smooth running, with Connie Rajnak, of the regularly issued and informative newsletter (ACA RefleXions). Judy was a well-known and respected member of our community and will be greatly missed.