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Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Office of Public Affairs
October 4, 2005
DeKalb, Ill. — A memorial scholarship award is being established to honor the memory of Carol J. Feltz, a talented statistician and researcher whose passion for teaching led her to return to Northern Illinois University, her alma mater.
“What stood out in Carol's professional life was her sense of devotion to teaching and helping students,” said Rama Lingham, director of the Division of Statistics within the NIU Department of Mathematical Sciences.
“The superb art of teaching requires a person with special talents and a spirit of care,” he said. “Carol was one of those people.”
The only full-time female professor in the statistics division, Feltz was a role model to women in a subject area traditionally dominated by men. She taught a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses at NIU during her 16-year career.
Feltz, of St. Charles, carried a full teaching load last spring, vacationed with her family in Switzerland in June, finished writing a scholarly book chapter in July and intended to teach this fall. But the 49-year-old professor succumbed to breast cancer Aug. 11 after a seven-year battle with the disease.
Survivors include her husband, Peter Waterman, who also is a professor in the Department of Mathematics, and their son, 9-year-old James Waterman.
“One of her loves was working with students in the introductory courses to statistics, which she regularly taught,” her husband said. “The students typically weren't math or science majors and were terrified of the subject. Carol helped build and develop the course and provided those students with encouragement and patience. She was dedicated to nursing them through it.”
A native of Crystal Lake, Feltz had been a star student in the NIU mathematics department in the 1970s, earning both her bachelor's and master's degrees. She completed her Ph.D. in 1982 at the University of Missouri and went to work as a member of the technical staff at the AT&T Engineering Research Center in Princeton, N.J., one of the country's premier research facilities.
During the 1980s, she donated a kidney to her older sister, Barbara Feltz-Cass. After the deaths of her sister and father, Carol Feltz returned to Illinois to be closer to remaining family members and began teaching at her alma mater. She also was an active researcher. She served on the editorial board of an international technical journal and specialized in the areas of quality control, goodness-of-fit tests, and applied probability and statistics.
Shortly after arriving at NIU, Feltz met Waterman, a native of England. They were married in 1993. Off campus, Feltz was dedicated to her family. “She loved to play ball in the garden with our son, or to go walking along the bike path near our house. On weekends one of her favorite things to do was to go treasure hunting at estate sales,” Waterman said.
“All around, she was a wonderful person,” he added, “a dedicated teacher and loving mother and wife.”
As both a student and professor at NIU, Feltz was known for her optimism and contagious enthusiasm. “Carol had a quality that you don't often see in students—she elevated the efforts of the people around her,” said Stanley Trail, a retired professor of statistics who taught Feltz and later worked alongside her as a colleague. “She was like that as a faculty member as well.”
Trail said Feltz cared personally about her colleagues, and even encouraged him to take vitamins, exercise and quit smoking, which he did successfully. “She was outgoing, energetic, helpful and a peacemaker. She was always a giver and very rarely a taker. Although Carol's illness was not a secret, she downplayed its significance and did not try to push her pain off onto others. Her courage and strength were remarkable.”
Waterman said details haven't yet been worked out for the memorial scholarship honoring his wife's memory. It likely will be designed to encourage students who are studying statistics, particularly women. The Division of Statistics is soliciting donations as well as ideas. For more information, and before donating, contact the division's office manager, Donna Lynn, at (815) 753-6778 or firstname.lastname@example.org.