Obituary: Dr. Vera Pless

Dr. Vera Pless
Dr. Vera Pless

Vera Stepen Pless, professor emerita in the Department of Mathematics at the UIC, died peacefully in her home March 2. She was 88 years old.

Pless was one of the world’s top experts in the field of error correcting codes. She began her career in 1963 at the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory (AFCRL) in Massachusetts. During this time, she helped to found and later became president of the organization Women in Science and Engineering.  In 1972, she became a research associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She returned to Chicago in 1975 to serve as a full professor of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science (MSCS) in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences where she taught from 1975 until her retirement in 2006. 

Pless authored over 120 peer-reviewed journal publications, several books and was a strong supporter of women’s rights and other anti-discrimination causes.  She is remembered for her teaching expertise, sense of humor, and enthusiasm for theater and music. As recalled by Janet Beissinger, research associate professor emerita of MSCS, “She was quite an inspiration on how to get the most out of life.”

A resident of Oak Park, Pless is survived by her three children, Naomi, Ben and Daniel, and her four grandchildren, Lilah, Evie, Rebecca and Jesse. 

Memorial remembrances may be made to Family Justice Resource Center (

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