Benton J. Underwood, 79, of Glenview, professor emeritus of psychology at Northwestern University, died Tuesday (Nov. 29 ) at St. Matthew's Lutheran Home in Park Ridge after a long illness.
Underwood, who joined the Northwestern faculty in 1946, served as chairman of psychology and was the Stanley G. Harris Professor of Social Science from 1976 until his retirement in 1983.
He was nationally known for his research on verbal learning and memory and received major awards for his contributions to the field of psychology. He received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association, the Distinguished Teaching Award in Psychology from the American Psychological Association and the Warren Medal from the Society of Experimental Psychologists for distinguished work in experimental psychology.
Underwood served as president of the Midwestern Psychological Association and of the divisions of general psychology and experimental psychology of the American Psychological Association. He also was chairman of the psychology sections of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Sciences. He was a founding member of the Psychonomics Society.
He received the Distinguished Graduate Award from the University of Iowa and an honorary doctor of science degree from Cornell College.
He was the author of numerous articles and books, including "Experimental Psychology," "Psychological Research," "Experimentation in Psychology" and "Meaningfulness and Verbal Learning."
A native of Center Point, Iowa, Underwood taught in the Iowa public school system and was a naval aviation psychologist for the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II prior to joining Northwestern.
Underwood received a bachelor's degree from Cornell College in 1936, a master's degree in psychology from the University of Missouri in 1940 and a doctoral degree in psychology from the University of Iowa in 1942.
He is survived by his wife, Louise; two daughters, Judith Maples of Douglasville, Ga., and Kathleen Olson of Glenview; six grandchildren, Allen, Katherine and Christopher Maples and Karen, Gary and Scott Olson; and a sister, Dorothy Wretman of Texas.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Dec. 16 at the Alice Millar Chapel and Religious Center at Northwestern University. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorials be made to Alzheimer's Disease Research, 15825 Shady Grove Road, Suite 140, Rockville, Md., 20850-4022.