Ian Woo Cumings,‘eloquent and mature’ College student, dies in auto accident

Ian Woo Cumings, a rising fourth-year in the College at the University of Chicago, died June 27 from injuries he suffered in an automobile accident in central Virginia.

Born April 27, 1989, Cumings, 21, was the third generation at the University; his grandfather and grandmother met here and graduated in the 1930s. His father, Bruce Cumings, is the Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in History and the College.

A dean's list student majoring in Germanics and a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, Cumings was well known for possessing a quiet and warm spirit.

"He distinguished himself through his class work, but impressed me even more as a human being," said Associate Professor of American History Adam Green, who taught "Introduction to Black Chicago, 1893-2005" during the fall of 2008."Eager to learn about new worlds, and dedicated to further developing impressive skills, Ian was also remarkably kind and gentle."

Malynne Sternstein, an Associate Professor of Slavic Studies, and Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, observed Cumings' quick wit, acumen and pointed analytical skills when she had him in her Vladimir Nabokov course this spring.

"His work was eloquent and mature, sophisticated and canny," Sternstein said. "All these things: his insight, his sensitivity to the nuances of others' voices, his grace in finding his own, all these things and more speak to an exceptional life. I will miss his voice."

Ian was born and raised in Chicago, attending the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Cumings loved sports, especially the Chicago White Sox.

He played Little League baseball, and in his senior year in high school was a member of the Michigan state championship tennis team. He loved to manage football, baseball and basketball teams in the fantasy leagues.

In addition to his father, Cumings is survived by his mother Meredith Jung-En Woo, who is Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia, and a younger brother, Benjamin.

A memorial service will be held at the University in the fall. In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer contributions to the Ian Cumings Memorial Scholarship Fund at the University of Chicago, Harper Memorial Library, E587, 1116 E. 59th St., Chicago 60637.

-Sara Olkon