Professor Emeritus Gerald ‘Jerry’ Bender dies at 75

Gerald “Jerry” Bender, associate professor emeritus of international relations and 31-year USC faculty member, died May 22 in Los Angeles from emphysema and kidney failure. He was 75.

Bender was considered one of the leading experts on the politics, languages and culture of Angola. He had an interest in United States foreign policy toward southern Africa. He traveled there nearly 100 times, serving as an unofficial ambassador, but remaining a passionate advocate for the people of Angola. He liked to refer to himself as an activist scholar, hoping to improve U.S. foreign policy while teaching and studying international relations. 

After earning his undergraduate degree in political science at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, he attended UCLA to earn a master’s and doctoral degrees in the same subject. He began teaching at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences in 1979. Bender spent three decades teaching in the international relations department before retiring in 2011. He also served as director of the School of International Relations from 1986 to 1991.

Bender is survived by Sandie Taylor, brother Michael Bender, sister-in-law Cindy Royce, niece Melanie Taylor and great-nieces Talia and Juliana Martino.

A service celebrating his life will be held July 8 on the University Park Campus.