News

College Mourns Passing of Alumnus Dr. Raymond Paternoster

March 14, 2017

It is with great sadness that the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice reports the passing of alumnus Dr. Ray Paternoster. Ray received his PhD in Criminology from Florida State University in 1978. He subsequently began his academic career at The University of South Carolina and then moved to the University of Maryland in 1982 where he remained until his passing. Ray was an academic superstar with several books and over 200 articles in criminology’s top-tier research journals that were centered upon deterrence/rational choice theory and the death penalty. Moreover, beyond his exemplary research and publication productivity and major impact on criminology, was his tireless commitment to teaching and the mentoring of PhD students, many of whom went on to distinguished academic careers. Throughout his remarkable career, Ray maintained an always charming and welcoming personality to all and was never without his characteristic and warm sense of humor. He was real and friendly to all.

Dr. Gordon Waldo, who served as Ray’s Major Professor for his PhD recounts, “I met Ray when he walked into my office a few days before the beginning of his first semester at FSU and told me that he was to be my TA for the semester. We had a long discussion about the TA position, his interest in criminology, the research methods course he would be taking with me that semester, the pros and cons of living in Tallahassee, and academic life in general. Before he left my office that day, I knew he was going to be a very special student, and a very special person. Halfway through that first semester, he asked me to be his Major Professor and I was delighted to respond with a very enthusiastic ‘yes’. At that time, I knew I would enjoy working with him and that he had tremendous potential, but I obviously was not aware of just how special he would become and how important his career would be to the field of criminology and the countless students he would teach and mentor. As I recall some of the things Ray said and did, conversations that we had, and all that he accomplished, I will always have a smile come across my face whenever I think of him.”

Dr. Ted Chiricos, who also worked very closely with Ray during his graduate work at FSU, indicated that he “was always a colleague in ways that transcended his role as a graduate student when he was here. Intellectually, methodologically, and in other ways, he was an equal contributor in our efforts to move deterrence research into the examination of perceptual measures. Actually, he was a force in that endeavor. But even as a force he consistently brought to our interactions a most positive and upbeat spirit, a great sense of humor, and a strong sense of caring. In short he was the most engaging, pleasant, and delightful person that one could hope to work with. In memory, that is what stands out with me from Ray’s earliest years as a criminologist. As we all know, it only got better from there.”

Dean Tom Blomberg, who was on the faculty when Ray entered FSU’s PhD program and maintained a friendship with him over the years, stated “whenever I spoke to Ray either as a young PhD student or later as a distinguished scholar, I felt better. As a student, he was very bright, extremely talented, and worked hard, but always with a disarming smile on his face. His work ethic, warm and funny personality, and commitment to advancing criminological understanding never waned but, instead, accelerated. He was such a credit to FSU’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice. He has made us so proud that he was one of ours.”

All of us in the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice mourn the loss of this very special scholar, teacher, and human being. Our prayers are with Ray’s wife Dr. Ronet Bachman and their son John Bachman-Paternoster. There will be a celebration of Ray’s life that is planned for the summer of 2017 and we will announce the date and place when available.