James Rothenberger of Minneapolis, who served on the faculty of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, was a popular teacher who taught a broad range of courses while facing serious illness for 23 years.
During his career, he endured two kidney transplants, but still taught more than 100,000 university students.
Rothenberger, 61, died Dec. 8 in Minneapolis of complications from kidney disease and an infection.
He grew up in Deephaven and graduated from high school in Rochester, N.Y. In 1969, he earned a bachelor's degree in political science at the University of Minnesota.
In the early 1970s, he served as a consultant on drug abuse prevention in the Nixon White House. He returned to the university, completing a master's degree in public health in 1979.
He was an innovative teacher and leader of public health programs on campus and off, said John Finnegan of St. Paul, dean of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
Finnegan called him an "amazing guy" and "a remarkable teacher," who taught more courses than most --15 a year.
"Jim was just a machine," he said. "He built an excellent cadre of teaching assistants."
He was a recognized expert nationally in a half-dozen fields, such as HIV-AIDS prevention, death and dying education and counseling, and alcohol and drug abuse prevention.
At the university, he was a pioneer in the use of Web technology for learning. He tackled college binge drinking, and he taught a freshman survival course used online by six Minnesota colleges.
Finnegan said he was devoted to the university and to his students, never complaining and often humorous. He worked until very recently.
When asked what he did at the university, he would respond, "I teach about sex, drugs and death," said Finnegan.
Traci Toomey of Minneapolis, an associate professor in the School of Public Health, said he had an "absolute commitment and passion for teaching."
"He was a terrific lecturer," said Toomey, a colleague and former student of Rothenberger's, who reviews applications for graduate work at the school.
"Many applicants said they were inspired by Jim Rothenberger" to pursue a career in public health, she said.
Tayne DeNeui of Minneapolis, a School of Public Health project manager and, in recent years, Rothenberger's caregiver, is also a former student.
"He was always able to engage students. He was funny," said DeNeui. "He was a teacher who you stayed awake for.
"He lived for his students and his teaching assistants."
He served on many university committees and as an adviser to more than a dozen organizations, such as the American College Health Association, the Minnesota Department of Health and the Red Cross.
He is the recipient of many honors.
After his kidney disease was diagnosed, his mother, Merna Rothenberger of Pensacola, Fla., donated one of her kidneys to him in 1985. He received a kidney from another person in 1990.
In addition to his mother, he is survived by his sister, Jane of Pensacola, Fla.
A public service is planned for early 2009.