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WILSE BERNARD WEBB

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WILSE BERNARD WEBB Obituary
WEBB, WILSE BERNARD (BERNIE)
Wilse Bernard (Bernie) Webb left us on January 15, 2018 at the age of 97. He was the devoted husband of Mary Hayward Webb and his beloved family, Ann Comiskey, Jean Kaufmann (Randy), Thomas Webb and Molly Webb-Beatty (Dave). He was blessed with five grandchildren; Wolfe Schaaf, Cyrus Comiskey, Galen Kaufman, Hannah Kaufman and Edward Beatty and three great grandchildren.
Bernie grew up in Yazoo City, Mississippi and graduated from LSU where he met his wife to be. They were married in 1942. He entered the psychology program at the University of Iowa in September 1941 but enlisted in the Army Air Corp in March of 1942 as a psychological technician. He was commissioned and served for four years doing psychological research in the training commands and overseas in the Pacific. He returned to graduate school and completed his PhD in 1947.
After teaching positions at the University of Tennessee and Washington University, Bernie became the Director of the Aviation Psychology Laboratory of the US Naval School of Aviation Medicine in 1953. In 1958 he was appointed Chairman of the Department of Psychology at the University of Florida. In 1969 he was appointed Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Florida. He received two Research Fellowships to engage in research in Cambridge, England where he was a Fellow at both Kings College and Churchill College. He retired from the University of Florida as Professor Emeritus in 1989.
Bernie was active in is professional organizations. He was President of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology and the Southeastern Psychological Association, the President of the Division of Teaching and the Division of History of the American Psychological Association and twice a member of the Board of Directors. He was an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and he received the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Sleep Research Society.
Bernie identified himself as an experimental psychologist. He received his doctoral training in learning theory and published seminal papers in the area. He next did research based upon his wartime experiences and published in aviation psychology with an emphasis on aircraft accidents. He then became one of the pioneers in the area of sleep research that had begun to emerge in the 1950s. While he published extensively in the areas of individual differences, the effects of sleep deprivation and the aging of sleep, his major contributions were focused on sleep as a biological rhythm. His laboratory was the first to use sleep recordings in long periods of time isolation and performed extensive studies on displaced sleep programs such as jet lag and shift work studies. His theoretical analyses contributed substantially to the development of two factor theories of sleep. He was the author/editor of seven books, more than 200 articles and 40 book chapters.
Bernie enjoyed life to the fullest. He collected arrow heads from the cotton fields as a boy and Roman Coins when he grew up. The boy from the Delta owned two sail boats and skied in the Alps. He marched on picket lines for integration in the sixties. He played golf on the 'Old Course' at St. Andrews. He drove an MG TD. He was featured on 'Nova' and was '...the real Wilse B. Webb, sleep specialist' on 'I've Got A Secret' , much to the delight of his children. He had a radio program for poetry reading for years.
In his later years, Bernie took up genealogy and traced the family back into the 1600s. He and his wife Mary were inveterate travelers. They absorbed Europe and extended into Greece and Egypt as well as Russia, Turkey and China. In their later years they enjoyed frequent cruises.
He is preceded in death by his parents Wilse and Estelle, his wife Mary and his much loved son-in-law James 'Smiles' Comiskey.
A memorial service will be held at Oak Hammock, 2680 SW 53rd Lane in the Oak Room on Friday, February 2 at 3:30 pm.
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Published in Gainesville Sun from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2, 2018
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