Dr. Mare Taagepera, Senior Lecturer SOE, Emerita, passed from this life on April 24, 2013. A memorial was held at UCI on May 20.
Her husband, Professor Rein Taagepera sent the following obituary:
Mare Taagepera, 74, faded peacefully in the early morning of April 24, 2013, in a nursing home near Irvine, California. Funeral services were at Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, at 3:00 pm onTuesday, April 30. The service was in Estonian. A memorial gathering to celebrate Mare’s life will take place at or near University of California, Irvine at a later date. Mare is survived by her husband Rein, daughters Tiina and Salme, son Jaan, seven grandchildren, and sister Epp Raun, and their families.
Mare was diagnosed with metastatic cancer in March 2011. She chose to participate in a clinical trial and through sheer determination became by far the longest lasting patient in the trial. She had two more years of a full life, including academic, professional and personal activities and events. On March 28, 2013 she sent in her course grades at the University of California and then admitted herself to the hospital.
Mare Rünk was born on 16 May1938 in Narva, Estonia. In 1944, she fled to the west along with her mother, to avoid the Soviet terror. Their family moved to New Jersey in 1951. She studied in Finland in 1960/61 and married Rein Taagepera, presently Professor Emeritus at UCI, in October 1961. Mare obtained her PhD in chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania in 1970. Since 1971, she taught at the University of California, Irvine, becoming a Senior Lecturer in Chemistry. From 1996 on she was also a Visiting Professor at the University of Tartu in her native Estonia.
Mare organized the UCI Science Education Program (1982-1996), received numerous academic awards, and advised on curriculum and teacher development in Sacramento and Washington. She initiated the concept of discovery science in Tartu where she spent almost half of every year, from 1994 on. Mare had 23 publications in chemistry, 4 on Baltic environmental issues in the 1980s, and 10 on science education. She was an invited speaker at the Gordon Conference on Chemistry Education in 2007.
Mare’s community service in Estonia peaked with her transplanting to Estonia the exile idea of “Forest University”, a retreat to discuss public issues. She led it from 2005 on, gradually handing the program over to younger leaders. For this endeavor and the introduction of the concept of discovery science, the President of Estonia decorated her in 2012 with the White Star, an award given for civilian contributions.