In memoriam: Thomas Sitz, associate professor emeritus of biochemistry

BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 1, 2010 – Thomas Sitz, associate professor emeritus of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, died Tuesday, Sept. 28, at Montgomery Regional Hospital. He was 65 years old.

After retiring from the university earlier this year, Sitz was granted the title “associate professor emeritus” by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors. The title of emeritus may be conferred on retired professors and associate professors, administrative officers, librarians, and exceptional staff members who are specially recommended to the board of visitors by Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger. Nominated individuals who are approved by the board of visitors receive an emeritus certificate from the university.

A member of the Virginia Tech faculty since 1982, Sitz taught biochemistry in a rigorous manner that stressed fundamental principles and foundational skills. As an undergraduate recruiter, he was instrumental in advancing the quantity and quality of students pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry at Virginia Tech.

As lead departmental advisor, Sitz provided insightful and honest assistance and advice to many students faced with challenging academic situations. He also mentored many biochemistry faculty members in the art of student advising. Sitz served the university and its students as a pre-medical and pre-dental advisor and, more recently, as director of the pre-medical and pre-dental advising program. In 1982, he earned the Alumni Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising.

He was also a leader in the Virginia Academy of Science and an active sponsor of undergraduate research students.

Sitz received his bachelor’s degree in biology and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Virginia Tech in 1967 and 1971, respectively. He also held faculty positions at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and the Department of Chemistry at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.

He is survived by his wife, Bonnie Crabtree Sitz of Blacksburg, Va.; daughter and son-in-law, Molly Sitz Moore and Rear Admiral Scott P. Moore of Virginia Beach, Va.; sisters Lucy Aginiga of Chula Vista, Calif., and Margaret Cullifer of Hatteras, N.C.; brother, John Sitz of Ocracoke, N.C.; and grandchildren Rachel Laughlin Moore, Sarah Buckley Moore, and Thomas Dewey Moore IV.

Memorial services will be conducted Saturday, Oct. 2 at 11 a.m. in the Blacksburg United Methodist Church with the Rev. Reggie Tuck officiating. The family will receive friends from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday evening at the McCoy Funeral Home, 150 Country Club Drive, SW, Blacksburg, Va.

Nationally ranked among the top research institutions of its kind, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences focuses on the science and business of living systems through learning, discovery, and engagement. The college’s comprehensive curriculum gives more than 3,100 students in a dozen academic departments a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. Students learn from the world’s leading agricultural scientists, who bring the latest science and technology into the classroom.