September 30, 2014

Teru Hayashi

Dr. Teru Hayashi of Woods Hole, known by his many friends as Tay, died December 18 at the Royal Nursing Center in Falmouth from the effects of esophageal cancer. He was just eight weeks shy of his 90th birthday.

Tay was a popular and stimulating teacher of biology at the graduate and undergraduate level as well as adult education. Many of his students later became academicians and professors at universities such as Yale, Dartmouth, Berkeley, SUNY at Stony Brook, and Albert Einstein.

Born in 1914, Tay grew up in Atlantic City, where after graduating from high school, he worked variously as croupier in gambling houses and for a circus act on the Steel Pier. He graduated in 1938 in physics at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania, receiving his Ph.D. in biology from the University of Missouri in 1943. In 1945 he joined the biology department at Columbia University, rising to full professor and chairman of the department. Tay moved on to the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1967 to found and chair its biology department. He retired in 1979 as Senior Research Scientist at the Papanicolaou Research Institute, and subsequently Professor Emeritus in 1982. Tay’s research focused on the molecular basis of muscle contraction.

He was a member of the Society of General Physiologists, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Biophysical Society and Physiological Society. In 1954-1955 he was a Guggenheim Fellow and Fulbright Scholar in Denmark, and in 1974-1975 a Humboldt Fellow and
Fulbright Scholar in Germany, and a Japan Society Visiting Professor in Japan.

Tay’s summertime association with the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole dates from 1939, first as a student and from 1948 on as an independent investigator. He was later elected an MBL Corporation Member and Trustee and was Trustee Emeritus at the time of his death. The MBL established the Tay Hayashi Lecture in Cell Physiology in 2002 to celebrate and honor Tay’s lifelong achievement, precious freedom, and indomitable spirit. The third annual Hayashi Lecture will he held this summer.

Until recently, Tay lived an active life, winning local tournaments in tennis and table tennis. He was an avid sport fisherman, singer, guitar player and billiard enthusiast. Tay had an enormous sense of humor, an ability to laugh at himself, and a way as a storyteller. His poker games continued into last summer.

He was son of the late Andrew Tetsuji; brother to the late Akira, half-brother to Mitsuru, Osamu and Makoto Hill; husband of the late Sally Rexon and subsequently Sally Browne, now an Alzheimer’s patient in Falmouth; father of sons Curt of Lexington, Massachusetts, Tomi of Bedford, Massachusetts, Tuck of Woods Hole and daughter Tesa Brown of Sandpoint, Idaho; uncle of seven; and grandfather of three.

A memorial service in Woods Hole is planned for summer.