Russell R. Dynes, Sr. - Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Homes & Crematory

Russell R. Dynes, Sr.

October 2, 1923 - February 10, 2019

          Russell R. Dynes, Sr., age 95, of Newark, DE, passed away peacefully on Sunday, February 10, 2019.

          Born in Dundalk, Ontario, on October 2, 1923, he was the son of the late Oliver Wesley Dynes, Chair of the Department of Agronomy at the University of Tennessee and Carlotta (Rowe) Dynes, a music educator.  Russell had one sister, Velma.  He was educated in New York, Florida, New Mexico and Tennessee.

          Russell’s education was interrupted while at the University of Tennessee by World War II.  After basic training, he was assigned to an Army Specialist Training Group in Engineering at the University of Alabama.  He was later assigned to the 138º Petroleum Distribution Company which built a pipeline from India through Burma and into China to provide supplies for the CBI Theater.  After discharge, he returned to the University of Tennessee, where he received his BA & MA in the social sciences and was briefly on faculty there.

          In 1947, he married Susan Swan of Mobile, Alabama.  She was a teacher and later the mother of four sons.  She died in 2003.  In 1951, they moved to Ohio State University, where he completed his PhD and joined the faculty of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.  He was chair of the department from 1973 until he moved to Washington DC to become Executive Officer of the American Sociological Association.  In 1982, he became Chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware remaining until 1989.

          In 1964 with colleague E.L. Quarentelli, he created The Disaster Research Center focusing on social science aspects of disasters.  The work of the center became internationally known and developed cooperative relations with scholars around the world.  The center moved to the University of Delaware in 1985.

          Interested in international education, Dynes earned Fulbright fellowships in Egypt, India and Thailand.  He served as President of the Fulbright Alumni Association and co-edited a book on the 50th anniversary of the program.  He lectured in over thirty countries around the world.  He wrote and/or edited eleven books and over 100 articles in professional journals.

          Russ served as president of the North Central Sociological Association, president of the Research Committee on Disaster, International Sociological Association and Treasurer of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.  He was a member of the staff of the Presidential Commission on the Disaster at the Three Mile Island.

          In addition to his parents, Russ was preceded in death by his wife, Susan in 2003; and son, Jon in 2016.  He is survived by his sons, Russ, Jr. (Jane Luke), Patrick and Greg; and grandchildren, Oliver, Christopher, Madeline and Andrew.

          A visitation for family and friends will be held from 1 pm until 3 pm on Saturday, February 23, 2019, at Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Home, 121 West Park Place, Newark, DE.  Interment will be held privately.

          In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in memory of Dr. Russell Dynes to help establish a fund in his honor at the University of Delaware.  Please send contributions to: University of Delaware, Gifts Processing, 83 E. Main St., 3rd Fl., Newark, DE 19716.  Make checks payable to: ‘University of Delaware’ and include on the memo line “in memory of Dr. Russell Dynes”.  Gifts can also be made on the University of Delaware’s secure website,


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10 Condolences for Russell R. Dynes, Sr.

  • A great man. I didn’t get to see him often but enjoyed all contacts. He will be missed.

  • What a wonderful, accomplished sociologist and father. Proud to have been able know him.

  • Hello friends,

    Please accept my deepest condolences on the death of Professor Dynes. I was one of his students and he had a profound influence on me. He had many admirable traits. Side by side to his great intellect, the ones I love most was his transparency, humility, and lack of pretense. He was a truly extraordinary human being, scholar. and mentor.

    Most respectfully yours,
    Benigno (and Lauriece) Aguirre

  • I am deeply saddened to hear of Russ’s passing. As Executive Officer, he hired me fresh out of college to work at ASA, and I have fond memories of him both as Executive Officer and in the years since. In just a year or two that I worked with him, his stewardship of the ASA and its staff taught me lessons that I carry with me to this day. My condolences to the Dynes family.

  • Our deepest condolences to the Dynes extended family. We will miss Professor Dynes, and forever be grateful for the impact he had as a scholar, visionary, mentor, and friend. The Disaster Research Center has posted an In Memoriam page, and we expect memories and comments from the disaster research community to come in over the coming weeks.

  • What an amazing life! It’s not often a man of such accomplishments is credited with building immediate repoire and putting people at ease, as well as authoring an entire shelf of books and building international connections. I know one of his suns; I believe I see quite a resemblance in character.

  • My condolences to you all. Your father/grandfather was a kind, accomplished and interesting man. I’ll never forget the pipe or his involvement with the Alaska earthquake in 1964 at the house on Grenoble. A great man.

  • I am sorry to hear of the passing of Dr. Dynes. I grew up with all the Dynes kids in Columbus, Ohio and have many fond memories of pot luck dinners, sleep-overs on the third floor in the Dynes house, and even a road trip with Greg to Orillia, Ontario (birthplace of Gordon Lightfoot).
    Greg, Pat, and Russ – please accept my condolences on the passing of your father. He was a good man, and a respected and honored person who did many amazing things, some related to Sociology and some not. I was very impressed reading the obituary to know that he spent time in Thailand and India as well as Egypt. I remember when you all went to Cairo, starting out on the train from Columbus. The Dynes family always seemed very well traveled with many interesting artifacts in your house from many different countries and even brought back a VW Microbus from Germany when coming back to the states.
    I am glad to have all the fond memories of time with you and your Dad and Mom as I was growing up. The fun times with the Dynes family will always be with me.

  • Geographic distance kept me from getting to know my Uncle Russell better. Yet, whether it was his letters or our too infrequent face to face chats, I found him curious, questioning, knowledgable, and of course full of stories. Although I do not think of sociology as a small world, he seemed to know everyone in the field. Upon mentioning a few of the scholars I was referencing in my own doctoral work, he started to tell me inside stories on several of them! This story shows not only the breadth of his many interests, but also how personable he was. He will be missed.
    Please accept my condolences.

  • I came across his outstanding scholarly work at the time of the Friuli earthquake (Italy 1976). When I met him in person, in Delaware in the early ’80s he was warm and welcoming, easygoing and modest. Later, we edited a book together, me in Italy he in the US, always communicating by letter. I hear that he remained faithful to traditional styles of communication even in the Internet era. My condolences to the family. Bruna