Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 24
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
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Obituaries

Dr. Bart Hoebel

Betty M. Chenicek

Henry Tamasi

Anne E. Toole


Dr. Bart Hoebel

Dr. Bart Hoebel, 76, a Princeton professor of psychology and of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, who became internationally known for his research on food addiction, died of cancer on June 11 in Princeton.

A member of the Princeton faculty since 1963, his interest in understanding how the brain rewards behavior encompassed a breadth of research and led to discoveries in the areas of eating disorders and obesity, addiction, alcohol consumption, and depression. He pioneered studies into the mental rewards of eating, and his research on sugar addiction in rats generated worldwide attention for its possible public health applications.

“His studies on food addiction led to the development of a new subfield and a novel approach to studying the obesity epidemic,” said Nicole Avena, a visiting assistant professor of psychology at Princeton.

“The work Bart produced has been influential on many other scientists,” added Avena. “He aimed to understand brain mechanisms that drive us to engage in certain types of behavior, like eating, and those findings really laid the groundwork for future research.”

“His research is important, of course, but what impressed me most about Bart was his dedication to students,” Prentice said. “He was a gifted mentor, with a real passion for training young scientists, and the work of his lab is ongoing even after his death — just as he would have wanted.”

In recent years, his group led research demonstrating that sugar can be an addictive substance, causing changes in the brains and behaviors of rats similar to many drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, morphine, and nicotine. In 2008, his lab completed an animal model of sugar dependency that was the first set of comprehensive studies showing a strong suggestion of sugar addiction in rats and a brain mechanism that might underlie it.

His work allowed scientists to examine more deeply the connections between food cravings and brain physiology, with the hope that the research could one day influence work related to humans with eating disorders.

“Bart was definitely a pioneer. He was not afraid to put out a new idea that people may not necessarily agree with at first and run with it. Our first work with food addiction in rats was really spurred by Bart’s enthusiasm,” Avena said.

He had been interested in the brain mechanisms that control appetite and body weight since he was an undergraduate at Harvard University studying with the renowned behaviorist B.F. Skinner.

Most recently in 2010, his research team studied the differences between high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar in effecting weight gain in rats and circulating blood fats called triglycerides.

In earlier work in 2004, he had shown that the desires for fatty foods and alcohol share a chemical trigger in the brain, helping to explain one of the mechanisms involved in alcohol dependence and adding to scientists’ understanding of the neurological link between the desires for alcohol and food.

“Bart always loved to contribute. His science on diet and food disorders seemed to be motivated mainly by an enthusiasm for helping people,” said Michael Graziano, an associate professor of psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute.

Sarah Leibowitz, a longtime collaborator of Hoebel’s and an associate professor at Rockefeller University, said Hoebel was a leader in studying the neural basis for feeding and reward.

“Bart was very creative and always tried to come up with original ideas. He wanted to come out with something that paved the way for new areas of research,” said Leibowitz.

Beyond his research, he was a gracious mentor to colleagues and students.

“He loved teaching and was dedicated to teaching undergraduates — not just getting up there and lecturing in class, but training young people to be scientists and really caring about the outcomes of their lives,” said Barry Jacobs, professor of psychology and of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute.

Outside of the lab, he was described by colleagues as a “renaissance man” whose generosity and sense of adventure included hobbies such as hot air ballooning, Christmas tree farming, and building a steam calliope into an antique fire truck to drive in parades. He also ran a nonprofit organization, the Delaware River Steamboat Floating Classroom, where students and groups experience interactive ecology lessons on board a replica of an 1880 sternwheeler on the Delaware River. “Bart was full of life and enthusiasm, and definitely the most interesting person I have ever met,” Avena said.

Born May 29, 1935 in New York City, he earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from Harvard in 1957, and his PhD in 1962 in physiological psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. There, he also worked as a postdoctoral fellow and instructor before joining the Princeton faculty.

Predeceased by his wife, Cindy; he is survived by his daughters, Valerie Hoebel and Cary Hoebel Lane; a son, Brett; and two grandchildren.

A private family gathering was held earlier this week, and the Department of Psychology held a living memorial service for him in January.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Delaware Steamboat Floating Classroom via www.steamboatclassroom.org; or to the Sierra Club via www.sierraclub.org.


Betty M. Chenicek

Betty M. Chenicek

Betty Mackey Chenicek, 94, died May 24.

Born September 16, 1916, in Rockford, Ill., she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1938 from Rockford College. In 1939 she received a Master of Arts degree in American History from the University of Chicago. After graduate school, she taught at a one-room schoolhouse in Winnebego County, Ill., and later at Maryland College for Women, Lutherville, Md.

In 1942, she was commissioned into the U.S. Navy Reserve (WAVES). She supervised housing at Hunter College, Bronx, N.Y., and subsequently in Washington, D.C. for hundreds of enlisted women recruits during World War II. She was decommissioned in 1944 as a first lieutenant.

A 35-year resident of Princeton, she served on the boards of the Friends of the Princeton Public Library, McCarter Associates, Women’s College Club, and the Present Day Club. She was a 21-year member of the Princeton Historical Society where she instituted and led guided bus tours of historic Princeton during our nation’s bicentennial and continued to do so for the next 18 years. In addition, she was a member and deacon of the Nassau Presbyterian Church.

Preceded in death by her husband of 48 years, Albert G. Chenicek; and her son, Robert B. Chenicek; she is survived by her daughters, Anne C. Freeman and Laura C. Korn; three grandchildren; three step-grandchildren; and two step-great granddaughters, and their father, Andrew Halliday.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on June 20 in the Sanctuary of Nassau Presbyterian Church, 61 Nassau Street, Princeton. Burial will be private in the Princeton Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Women’s College Club of Princeton Scholarship Fund, c/o Mildred Auerbach, 13 Beryl Court, Kendall Park, N.J. 08824.

Henry Tamasi

Henry Tamasi, 50, of Ulysses, Neb., died June 7 after fighting valiantly against Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at Cancer Treatment Center of America at Midwestern Regional Hospital in Zion, Ill.

Born and raised in Princeton, he resided in Ulysses, Neb., since 2001. He was a graduate of St. Paul’s School, Notre Dame High School, Class of 1979, and Rider University, Class of 1984.

He worked as an assistant vice president at Nassau Savings and Loan, which later became Sovereign Bank. He joined Princeton Hook and Ladder in December of 1979 and became Chief of the Department in September 1997, serving in that capacity until September 2001. He was the first chief to be elected to multiple terms in the Princeton Fire Department. He was currently employed with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency as a Unit Supervisor for the Exercise and Training Section. He was an integral part of both the agencies emergency management and inception of the state of Nebraska Homeland Security efforts. He was a member and officer of the Ulysses Nebraska Fire and Rescue Department from 2005 to present.

He is survived by his parents, Sebastiano and Mary Ann Tamasi; his wife, Shelly Tamasi; a step-daughter, Chelsea Lynn Martin; three daughters, Bianca Rose, Lindsay Marie, and Rianna Leigh Tamasi; and his sister, Denisa Pirone.

The funeral will be held at 9:30 a.m. on June 15 at The Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, 40 Vandeventer Avenue, Princeton.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on June 15 at St. Paul’s Church, 214 Nassau Street, Princeton.

Burial will follow at Princeton Cemetery.

A Memorial Service in Ulysses, Neb. will be held at a later date to be announced.

Memorial contributions may be made to Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, 10832 Old Mill Road, Suite 200, Omaha, Neb. 68154.

Anne E. Toole

Anne E. Toole, 80, of Pennington, died June 10 at home.

Born and raised in Princeton, she resided there for 75 years before moving to Pennington 5 years ago.

She graduated from Princeton High School and Glassboro State Teachers College. After graduation, she worked for the Princeton Regional School System.

A fifty-year member of the Order of the Eastern Star, she was also an officer of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Princeton Hook and Ladder Fire Company.

She enjoyed traveling with her husband and visited all fifty states, as well as Canada and Mexico in their Airstream travel trailer. She enjoyed cruising to the Caribbean, South Pacific, and Europe.

Most of all, she enjoyed her family and the many happy times she had with her friends.

The daughter of the late Charles Sutphen and Anna Anderson Sutphen; and sister of the late Harold Sutphen; she is survived by her husband of 59 years, William J. Toole; three children, Linda Toole, Jane Platt, and Robert Toole; nine grandchildren; and one great granddaughter.

The Funeral was held June 14 at The Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, 40 Vandeventer Avenue, Princeton, with the Rev. Dr. George G. Toole officiating.

Interment was at Trinity-All Saints’ Cemetery, Princeton.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Pennington First Aid Squad or the Hopewell Township PBA.

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