Roger Williams Signor (10/20/1931-05/04/2019)
Signor, Roger Williams of University City, MO died on May 4, 2019. He is survived by his wife, Mimi, his sons, Gary, Glen and Jim Signor, his daughter, Diane Signor, his step sons James and Nicolas Spatola, husband of Angie, grandchildren Anya Rosener, and Noel and Oscar Spatola, brothers in law Stephen Fenwick and Thomas Hull, husband of Paula. His late wife, Ann, died in 1990. A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, June 1st at 4:30 pm at Graham Chapel at Washington University in St. Louis. Memorial Contributions may be made to the Union of Concerned Scientists in memory of Roger’s legacy at www.ucsusa.org/memorial.
Roger spent his early years in Waterbury, Ct. and his later youth in Saranac Lake, NY. Roger was a natural baseball player, always ready for a pick-up game of ball with the kids in the neighborhood. Roger loved the Adirondacks, where his father worked on Whiteface Mountain as an Army weatherman.
Roger enlisted in the Air Force reserves as a teen during the Korean War. The Armed Forces commander was tipped off by his friend’s dad that he had lied about his age to join, preventing Roger to ship out with his unit, all of whom were killed in battle.
After leaving college at Saint Lawrence University in Canton, NY, he worked as a reporter and photographer at the Corning Leader in Corning, NY. In 1959 he relocated to St. Louis to serve as Director of Press Relations for the United Way of Greater St. Louis.
Roger became Public Information Director and science writer for Washington University in St. Louis from 1962 until 1976, serving under Chancellors Tom Eliot and William Danforth. He developed collegial relationships with physicians, and wrote about their cutting-edge research.
He wrote articles on the devastation of nuclear war. In 1962, he published in the Bulletin of the Committee for Nuclear Information, “War and the Cities: Target City and Missile Base”, describing what a bomb’s destruction would be if dropped on the campus.
When the black students occupied the office of Chancellor Tom Eliot in 1968, Roger was summoned to assist with the compilation of grievances and demands into a Manifesto. His secretary typed the Manifesto in an all-night session, culminating in a peaceful agreement. Not all the campus protests were non-violent. He witnessed brutal and violent anti-war protests. Protesters set the campus ROTC building afire in 1970.
Roger was an esteemed science writer, earning many awards for journalism. He was fascinated with science and medical discoveries. An active member of the National Association of Science Writers, he brought their national convention to St. Louis in the heyday of Gaslight Square, treating them to the best of jazz music and contemporary entertainment. He served on the board of directors for the local chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI).
Roger was recruited in 1976 to become editor of science and medicine at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He wrote and produced a weekly science page and medicine page, keeping readers abreast of the latest medical discoveries, as well as science and news stories until his retirement in 1995. He had many sources, medical students and nurses within the medical community, and many within the political networks, who helped him uncover wrongdoing, leading to the publishing of exposés. He wrote of the plight of the mentally ill, including the homeless. He covered the tragic closings of all of St. Louis’ public hospitals. Anguished by racism, he wrote “Cherished Moment with a Trailblazer”, a short memoir about his chance meeting with his hero, Jackie Robinson in 1949.
He created sensitive poems and autobiographical short stories, and artwork, ranging from impressionist paintings, modern art, and nature sketches.