In Memoriam: Psychology’s Retired Dr. Mario Sussman

Posted on 11/12/2014 10:43:59 AM

Dr. Mario Sussmann passed away, surrounded by his family, in Stamford, Connecticut, on October 29, 2014.

Sussmann was born in Lugano, Switzerland, in 1932, the first of two sons of Dezso and Fanny Sussmann. Sussmann grew up in Zurich, where he graduated from Gymnasium. He subsequently emigrated to Israel, where he worked on a farming kibbutz, served in the army, and completed his undergraduate degree in psychology. After emigrating to the United States, Sussmann earned his PhD in industrial psychology from the University of Illinois, Champagne–Urbana. He was a beloved professor of psychology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and when he retired, he was appointed professor emeritus.

Sussmann's love of learning and teaching extended beyond the academy. He taught Hebrew to students preparing for their bar and bat mitzvahs in Indiana, Pennsylvania. He was a frequent lecturer at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He loved reading about and discussing religion, politics, history, mathematics, and logic. He had a strong sense of right and justice. His e-mails to friends and colleagues ended with a quotation from Rosa Luxemburg: “Freiheit ist immer Freiheit der Andersdenkenden.” (Freedom is always freedom for the one who thinks differently.) His calm, kind, rational presence inspired all who knew him.

Sussmann often returned to his birth country of Switzerland, and during these many visits would almost always take walks up Zurich’s mountain, the Uetliberg. These walks were often warm-ups for hiking trips to the Alps, which his son Yoram remembers fondly. His love of the outdoors also inspired many family camping trips in the US, including a memorable trip to Maine which included a hurried packing-up with a quick escape via a northern route to avoid an oncoming hurricane.

Sussmann is survived by his wife, Ana, of New York City; his son, Yoram, of Redding, Connecticut; his granddaughters, Emily and Clara; and his brother, Albert, of Zurich.

A memorial service will be held in New York City on December 7. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the ALS association.

Department of Psychology