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In Memoriam

Christina “Nina” Meyer Cox, MBA ’14

Christina Meyer Cox passed away on Nov. 26, 2017 surrounded by her loved ones, after a long courageous battle with cancer.

Born in Tokyo, Japan, Nina’s life and heart were as full as the adventures her travels would take her over the 32 years of her life. After spending time in Switzerland and Canada, the Meyer family settled in Grosse Pointe, where Nina graduated from South High School. She went on to pursue studies at Notre Dame, a dream fulfilled, and to her dad a better option than other Michigan rivals. She graduated from Notre Dame in 2008 summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Architecture, and French language, along with lifelong friends and memories of traveling to Rome drawing ancient buildings and eating gelato.

After exploring her artistic passions as an architectural designer in Atlanta and Brianny, France, she chose to follow her dad and brother’s footsteps to the University of Michigan. Nina excelled at the Ross School of Business, working diligently to obtain her MBA degree in 2014. Nina’s work ethic earned the admiration of her peers, while her infectious smile, kind and fun spirit brought joy to all around her.

For three years, Nina worked with Exxon Mobil Finance in Fairfax and Houston. Nina made significant contributions as an analyst in internal audit and more recently in special projects with downstream controllers, but made an even greater impact on her mentees, peers and colleagues. Nina loved working in a supportive culture that challenged both her creative and analytical talents.

Nina was feisty and fearless, yet the most kind and thoughtful person you would meet. She loved quality time with family, ND football, cooking, quilting beautiful works of art, and salt. All were amazed by Nina’s strength and determination to continue full time work while kicking cancer’s butt, on top of planning the wedding of her dreams. She was truly special.

Nina’s passion for life was fulfilled when she met Aaron. Their relationship was seamless from the start and their commitment to each other grew stronger every day. Nina’s beautiful, sweet and fun-loving spirit will be affectionately carried on by her husband, Aaron; parents, Chris and Cindi; and brother, Nick.

Memorial donations may be made in honor of Nina to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation (www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org) or the Colon Cancer Alliance (www.ccalliance.org).


Ruth Gray Diefenbach, BBA ’72

Ruth Diefenbach passed away peacefully on Sept. 11, 2017, following a courageous seven-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Her absence will leave our world a little less joyful, and she will be missed by her family and the many friends she made on her way through life. At her passing, she joins her parents, Howard and Ruth Raymond. She is survived by her husband, William (Bill), her children, Christina (and husband, Andrew), Becker (and wife, Sarah), and numerous cousins from Michigan. Her family was her pride and joy, and they were steadfast supporters and comforters throughout her life and illness.

Ruth was born in Detroit and raised in Birmingham, Mich., where she attended Seaholm High School and met her future husband, Bill, at age 16 in the Birmingham-Bloomfield Teen Center. She graduated in 1972 with a degree in Business Administration from the University of Michigan (“Go Blue”), where she was active in the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and served as president of the Eta chapter. After college, Ruth married Bill, moved to and worked in the banking industry in Chicago, then moved to San Francisco in 1974, where she worked as a certified financial analyst for Crocker Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, and then ran her own business with a partner - Valuation Analysts. Ruth and Bill had a loving marriage for 45 years, and they lived in San Francisco’s Seacliff neighborhood for 32 years.

Her desire to be a mother was realized twice when Ruth gave birth to Christina in 1981 and Becker in 1985. She was an ideal mother, giving a great deal of love and guidance to her children, who returned it throughout their lives, especially when Ruth most needed it.

Her belief in giving back was evident by the many activities and organizations in which she participated, including Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center, Metropolitan Club, Kappa Alpha Theta (sorority alumnus), P.E.O., and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, where she led Sunday school and was a member for 36 years. In most of these organizations, Ruth assumed leadership positions and did much of the work.

With Bill, Ruth enjoyed several wonderful trips abroad, including many to Europe, Australia, Peru, Russia, Denmark, Norway, and Japan. She also appreciated seeing family and college friends during annual trips to Michigan, where they attended University of Michigan football games and relaxed at a family summer home, “Matabanic,” in Grayling. She and her family also made annual pilgrimages for more than 40 years to Mt. Lassen, where they stayed at Drakesbad Guest Ranch and hiked, swam, played games, roasted marshmallows and told stories around a campfire.

Ruth was an incredibly strong person in every way, from her physical health, to her long career as a certified financial analyst, and her primary accomplishment of raising Christina and Beck. Ruth had an assured and peaceful personality, which was quickly evident to anyone who encountered her. She was organized, efficient, and exact, and that is probably why she was often stuck with calculating the dinner check and managing the spreadsheet after a group vacation. She had an expressive face and could calm a situation or silence a dispute by simply glaring at you with her big, brown eyes. She was a dedicated and loyal friend who was always there to give advice, help, or just listen, and she was the “go-to” member of her family, business associates, and circle of friends. There were many instances over the years when a distraught friend or neighbor called Ruth with a question, an issue, or a crisis, which she invariably diffused by offering calm and logical solutions. Those relatives, friends, and neighbors will greatly miss their gentle and faithful counselor.

Contributions in Ruth’s name may be made to www.StLukesSF.org, www.TelHi.org, www.KappaAlphaTheta.org, or www.Alz.org or to a charity of your choice.


Thomas Robert Plenefisch, MBA/MSE ’92

Thomas Robert Plenefisch, beloved husband of Irene; father of Elena Adele (21), Adrian Thomas (18), and Diana Claire (15); son of Dolph and Barbara; and brother of John, Bill and Amy; died June 5, 2017 in Kirkland, Wash., at the age of 55.  

Tom graduated from Cornell University cum laude in physics and with distinction in all subjects. He earned an MBA with high distinction and an MS in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan.

While at Cornell, Tom was accepted into the United States Navy’s nuclear power program, beginning a 25-year career in the Navy. He served in the Submarine Service, aboard the USS Tautog, and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal. He retired from the Naval Reserves as a captain in 2008. Tom felt privileged to have been part of one of the world’s great institutions and to have had the opportunity to work beside people he respected and admired as colleagues and friends.

For the last 10 years, Tom worked as a product manager at Crane Electronics, where he oversaw the development of electronics for use in cochlear implants and other neurostimulator applications. Tom forged close relationships with his colleagues at Crane as well as customers worldwide.

In business school, Tom met his future wife, Irene Laporte, who was also an MBA student. They were married in 1994 and were true partners in every aspect of life. They supported each other in their respective careers but most importantly devoted themselves to their three children. Tom loved his wife with all his heart and loved and guided his children with complete commitment, sharing his broad interests and love of learning with them.  Among those interests were a love of nature, science, and music. Tom was a talented photographer who could capture the spirit of a family gathering or a breathtaking natural panorama with equal ease. With his family, he hiked, sailed, and visited important historical sites; he loved and revered both the natural beauty and the history of the United States. He cherished his extended family and his friends and colleagues.

Tom was a thoughtful man who used his keen intellect and quiet humor to explore his world and share it with those he loved. He leaves a great hole in the hearts of many.

In August 2016, Tom was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. He bore this burden with grace and dignity. Donations to the American Brain Tumor Association or the American Association of People with Disabilities would be greatly appreciated.


Gerald Prescott, BBA ’56/JD ’59

Gerald James Prescott Jr., 83, of Ann Arbor, passed away peacefully at the Avow Center in Naples, Florida. Born in Flint, Mich., on May 26, 1934, to Gerald James Sr. and Beatrice Smith Prescott.

He lived all of his adult life in Ann Arbor. Jerry married Lorna Ball in 1957. Together they raised four children, Sydney (Keith) Kiefner, Tom Prescott (Vaughan), Kristi (Mike) Boston, and Dorie (Larry) Maugh. He is also survived by seven grandchildren who he loved dearly (Whitney, Victoria, and Chip Kiefner; Andi and McKaley Boston; and Katie and Lance Maugh). He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Joan Prescott Hough.

A graduate of Flint Central High School, Jerry went on to the University of Michigan, where he received both a business and law degree. He was a member, and president, of Sigma Chi fraternity. He graduated from the Business School in 1956 and went onto receive his law degree in 1959.

After passing the Bar he served in the United States Air Force. When Lorna's father learned Jerry wasn't interested in practicing law, he offered him a job at his company, The King Group. Jerry loved the business and was president of several state and national trade associations, receiving numerous honors and awards along the way, including Young Executive of the Year in 1964, Candy Man of the Year three times, and was inducted into the Candy Industry Hall of Fame. Jerry co-founded a new division of the company - Distributor Concepts, one of the early pioneers in the computerization of the wholesale food distribution business in the early ’70s. Partnering with IBM, Distributor Concepts provided software and hardware solutions to more than 200 wholesale food distributors across the country.

Jerry was a former president of Rotary and a recipient of its Distinguished Service Award. He was active with many community nonprofits including Washtenaw United Way and the First Presbyterian Church, where he has held many leadership positions. A true blue Wolverine, Jerry was a fan of Michigan athletics his entire life. He also enjoyed traveling the world with Lorna and close friends. In retirement, he was both an avid reader and an author. He wrote four novels, one of which became a number one best seller in Ann Arbor. Memorial donations may be made to The Rotary Club, The First Presbyterian Church, or The United Way.


Martha Medlar Valerio, BBA ’68/MBA ’69

Born in 1946 in Monroe, Mich., the daughter of Alice and Robert E. Medlar. Went peacefully to be with her lord while being comforted by family on Dec. 18, 2017. “She fought the good fight” while dealing with quadriplegia sustained from an automobile accident in 1991.

Martha is survived by her mother, Dolly; two sons, Joseph (Allison) and Anthony (Amy); grandsons Joseph and Jacob; brother, R. Charles (Chris); and sister, Mary (Donald) Wahr. She was preceded in death by her father, Robert E. Medlar, MD. Martha had a special group of long-term caregivers, Nervia Llewellyn, Earlene Spencer, and Victoria Clark, all who had became part of her family.

She was a 1964 graduate of Jackson High School and graduated in 1968 from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in business administration in 1969.

Martha, a very successful business woman, will be remembered as an inspiration as she dealt with challenges head on. She was an incredibly fierce, feisty woman, who was never to be underestimated. She was also a pragmatic mentor who led by example and was emotionally invested. Martha was a groundbreaking female executive, starting her career at Arthur Andersen, continuing to Touche Ross, and moving on to Northwestern Mutual Life, where she retired in 2011 as vice president.

Several of her many accomplishments include; Top 5 Female Executives in the U.S.; First Chief Information Security Officer at Northwestern Mutual Life; awarded Professional Dimensions Sacagawea 1992 Woman of the Year for “women who have demonstrated significant achievements in their area of professional expertise and in their commitment to the community”; presenting federal disability legislation in Washington, D.C., and awarded an honorary doctorate from Columbia College of Nursing in 2015.

Despite her demanding work, Martha found time to give back to her community: Independence First: Board chair and board of directors; TEMPO Milwaukee: president; Community Care: board of directors; and member of Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Board.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests a donation, in her honor, to Independence First, Community Care, or Columbia College of Nursing.


Robert D. “Dan” Wagner, BBA ’57/MBA ’58

Age 83, of Cranberry Township, Penn., died on July 5, 2018. Born in Detroit, Mich., on April 9, 1935, son of the late George Garfield and Adeline (Lippert) Wagner; beloved husband of Catherine (Bradford) Wagner; father of Gregory, David, and Brian; grandfather to Dan, Allison, Anastasia and Natalia Wagner; brother of Glen Wagner and Betty Mae (Wagner) Bartlett.

Dan was a United States Army veteran. He worked 37 years for PPG Industries, beginning in the glass division in Crestline, Ohio. He became director of corporate executive compensation, retiring from PPG while on special assignment in Paris, France, in 1997.

Dan graduated from Cooley High School in Detroit and earned his bachelor’s degree and MBA from the University of Michigan, graduating in 1958. Dan was a trustee of Asbury United Methodist Church in Delaware, Ohio, and was recognized by PPG as their Citizen of the Year for his service to Junior Achievement, Boy Scouts of America, and as chairman of the annual United Way Campaign in Torrance, Calif. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Alzheimer's Association, 1100 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 or to the Wagner Family Scholarship Endowed Fund to benefit students and families with financial need at the Mercersburgh Academy in Mercersburgh, Pennsylvania 17236.

Please leave condolences at www.schellhaasfh.com.