Professor of epidemiology William Satariano dies at 70

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William Satariano, director of undergraduate health programs at the School of Public Health and campus professor of epidemiology and community health sciences, died May 28 at the John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek after a long battle with lymphoma. Satariano was 70.

Satariano, who was known as “Bill” by family, colleagues and friends, came to the UC Berkeley School of Public Health with an extensive background in sociology. Satariano, described as a “lifelong learner,” studied sociology during his undergraduate years at Santa Clara University and received a graduate degree and doctorate in sociology from Purdue University.

At UC Berkeley, Satariano pioneered the field of social epidemiology, combining his experience in sociology with a passion for public health, according to colleague and friend professor emeritus of epidemiology and community health S. Leonard Syme.

Throughout his academic career, Satariano received numerous accolades. Satariano was awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholarship, the Alfred W. Childs Distinguished Service Award for Faculty and the American Cultures Innovation in Teaching Award throughout his more than 20 years at UC Berkeley.

“My dad’s professional accomplishments were considerable, but he was an even better father and we feel so lucky to have had him,” said Satariano’s son Adam Satariano.

The late Satariano and professional partner Marlon Maus recently co-authored a book titled “Aging, Place, and Health: A Global Perspective.” The book examines the interplay between biological, social and environmental factors affecting the health of aging citizens.

According to Maus, Satariano’s final project was an application called WordWalk aimed at encouraging older adults to walk and simultaneously exercise their minds, which he tested at the North Berkeley Senior Center. “(Seniors) are fundamentally ignored — he brought a spotlight to their circumstance,” Syme said about Satariano’s work.

Kara MacLeod, a doctoral student under Satariano who nominated him for the Zak Sabry Mentorship Award in 2015, recalled an instance, among many, where Satariano, after walking by her office, dropped what he was doing in order to help her. “It’s not every day you see a professor sitting at his research assistant’s desk,” MacLeod said.

“Even though he was a world expert on aging, you would never know it,” said Maus. Satariano was regularly described as an incredibly generous spirit who brought immense kindness, humility and his trademark self-deprecating humor to everything he did.

“It’s hard to imagine the school of public health without him, it’s been a tremendous loss,” said Amani Nuru-Jeter, associate professor of epidemiology and community health sciences.

Satariano is survived by his wife Enid Satariano; daughter Erin Schwass; son-in-law Ken Schwass; son Adam Satariano; daughter-in-law Nicole Bazell; grandsons George, Nate, Leo and Kai; and sisters Marilynn Wacker and Patricia Tallerico.

Audrey McNamara is the executive news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @McNamaraAud.