Dr. Theodore Voneida was born in Auburn, New York, August 26th, 1930, the son of Gertrude and Herbert Voneida. After graduating from High School he attended Ithaca College where he obtained a bachelor of science in physical therapy. He did not practice physical therapy, but rather wanted to teach others his knowledge. At Cornell University his professor, Dr. Marcus Singer, introduced him to neuroanatomy, where he excelled. His education there was interrupted by the Korean War, when he was drafted into the United States Army. Dr. Singer intervened on his behalf by recommending that he be sent to Walter Reed Institute of Research to do brain research with Dr. Walle Nauta, who became his mentor. Ted began his seminal research on the connections to the caudate nucleus from various areas of the brain and spinal cord. This was also important, beyond understanding the operation of the brain, because it helped point to an understanding of Parkinson like effects on the nervous system. This aided in leading to the development of drugs to alleve the condition.
At Walter Reed Ted met Swanny Bekkedahl and they were married 6 months later. Swanny was an Occupational Therapist there in the hospital. She enlisted in the army because of its excellent training in their hospitals. She needed to do her practicum experience and benefited greatly from the training. Swanny was a first lieutenant and Ted was a corporal, but he never saluted her.
Ted did a post doctoral fellowship with Dr. Roger Sperry at California Institute of Technology. There he worked with Dr. Sperry, conditioning cats, who had their central brain commissure between the 2 brain halves partially cut under careful medical care. This research led Dr. Sperry to receive the Nobel Laureate prize.
Ted rejoined Dr. Marcus Singer at Case Western Reserve University, teaching neuroanatomy in 1962, where he became a full professor. He and Swanny had 3 children, Dorianne, Jim, and Audrey. Sadly, Dorianne passed away from cancer last May 4th, an infamous day in our nation. We all miss her very much.
Ted was one of the first faculty hired by the North East Ohio College of Medicine, now called the North East University of Medicine, to start a new department in neurobiology. He was the neurobiology Department Professor and Chairperson of Neurobiology. He received several teaching awards from his students and was chosen by the university for an outstanding teacher award. He also was selected by the North East Ohio College of Medicine as an outstanding teach, to mentor other students.
Ted had many opportunities to travel. During hissabbaticals he went to Puerto Rico to collaborate with Dr. Sven Ebbesson on fish brains and in Palo Alto to do further research. Dr. Roger Sperry asked Ted to represent him at international conferences in Japan and Italy on the future of the world, as Dr. Sperry’s health was failing. In 1966 Ted went to Marseille, France to work with Dr. Colwyn Trevarthen, studying behavioral responses in chimpanzees. During the summer of 1979 he worked with Deborah Christie on teaching to middle school and high school students. Dr. Christie then received a Fullbright Scholarship to continue this work at the North East Ohio Universities College of Medicine.
Ted dearly loved his expanding family. He has 2 granddaughters, Dorianne and Ralph Smith’s daughter, Emily, and Jim and Theresa Voneida’s daughter, Allison. Ted has called Audrey Bodnar his pumpkin since she was a little girl. Her husband, Scott Bodnar is a rudder to the family, as well as Ralph Smith. We shall sorely miss Ted’s Wonderful sense of humor, his love of music, care for the environment and all of us.
Ted’s memorial service will be held on Monday, January 20th, Martin Luther King Day, at the United Church of Christ, because our Unitarian Universalist Church is too small to accommodate it. The service will begin at 10:00 AM with a luncheon following. Memorials may be made to Jill Weingardner, President, Project Terrabona Health, IF-Project in Nicaragua, 160 Sunflower Lane, Watsonville, CA 95076; The Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent, 228 Gougler Ave., Kent, OH 44240, and The Kent Environmental Council, Robert Wilson, Treasurer, 536 N. Willow St., Kent, OH 44240.
Services in care of Bissler & Sons Funeral Home and Crematory, 628 West Main Street, Kent, OH 44240.
To send flowers to Theodore's family, please visit our floral section.