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In Memoriam: Stephen L. Zegura, 1943–2019

Nov. 08, 2019
Category: Obituary

Stephen Luke Zegura passed away suddenly in Tucson, Arizona on May 26, 2019, at the age of 75. Born in San Francisco, California, Steve was the eldest child of Dragomir Božo Zegura and Adele (June) Perelli-Minetti. In 1965, he earned his BA in anthropology, magna cum laude and with departmental honors, at Stanford University, and went on to complete his M.S. (1969) and Ph.D. (1971) in human biology from the University of Wisconsin (Madison), where he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. During these formative years, Steve made many important friendships that he cherished and actively maintained throughout his life.

After a brief stint at New York University, Steve moved to Tucson in the fall of 1972 and was a professor at the University of Arizona, where he taught physical anthropology and human genetics. With a keen and discerning intellect and passion for sharing knowledge, Steve was an enthusiastic teacher and mentor who challenged and inspired his students for over four decades. His research included groundbreaking work on the peopling of the Americas; the Y chromosome as a marker of human pathways; and the origins, genetics, and evolution of all humanity. He especially enjoyed his time in Wainwright, Alaska, where he carried out his master’s and doctoral field work; and in Croatia, his father’s homeland, studying the roots of the Croatian people while connecting with relatives that had remained in the “Old Country.” He was also honored to write the physical anthropology entry for the Britannica Book of the Year for over a decade.

Outside of academia, Steve was a fixture on the Tucson amateur golf scene, known as “Doc” and “Zoggo” among his closest friends and family. He was also an avid food and wine enthusiast, sports fan, and patron of the arts–especially opera, ballet, and chamber music. Steve is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; his son, Dan; his daughter-in-law, Ellen, and his granddaughters, Carmen and Bethany; his daughter, Krista, and his son-in-law, Adam (Sowlati); his brother, Petar; his sister-in-law, Sue; and his nephew, Nathan, and Nathan’s children, Arden and Bryce, and wife, Kaila.

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