On March 5, 2017, the world lost one of the greatest
fathers, husbands, sons, siblings, teachers, and scholars on the planet.
Raymond Paternoster, who was born on February 29, 1952, was taken much too
early from so many people who loved him. He died in the arms of his wife, Ronet
Bachman, and son, John Bachman-Paternoster, after a nearly 3-month herculean battle
against idiopathic pancreatitis.
Ray earned his BA at the University of Delaware in 1972 and
a Ph.D. in criminology at Florida State University in 1978. He was a
Distinguished Professor (although he would never tell you he held the
“Distinguished” honor) in the department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at
the University of Maryland, College Park.
Ray wrote several books and over 200 articles and chapters
during his career. He was an internationally-renowned scholar in the area of
deterrence/rational choice theory and offender decision-making, and at the
forefront of more rigorous empirical testing of theory in general. Beyond these academic achievements, he worked
tirelessly to ensure that his scholarship was translated to policy. For example, his pursuit of social justice in
the application of the death penalty was relentless. He was the principal investigator
on a 2003 Maryland state-commissioned study of the role of race and geography
in the application of the death penalty that empirically demonstrated the
differential likelihood of receiving a death sentence for white and African
American defendants and across jurisdictions. At the request of several
organizations including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, he
performed countless statistical analyses and provided expert testimony in court
cases across the U.S. on the effects of race and jurisdiction in capital cases.
In addition to his influence on the legal and justice systems, he also worked
extensively with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to help ground in the latest
scientific research their efforts to combat cheating in sports. Importantly, Ray
was just as devoted to teaching as he was to scholarship. He mentored dozens of
Ph.D. students and junior colleagues, and delighted in teaching undergraduate
courses in statistics. He was a one-of-a-kind professor who took both his
scholarship and teaching extremely seriously, but never took himself too
seriously. When named and distinguished professorships became an additional
rung on the ladder for faculty to achieve in academia and another status symbol
on email signatures, he added the moniker, “Emperor of Wyoming,” to his
signature in playful protest. He will always remain the only Emperor of
Ray lived each second of his life to the fullest. He loved the
Yankees, standup paddle boarding, traveling, backpacking, skiing and walking
our dog, Mickey, in the woods. He was also a voracious reader and did the New
York Times crossword puzzle every day. He
recently learned to love RVing, despite his original perception that it was “camping
for wimps.” His newest interest was in cooking, and he insisted that his family
call him “Chef” when he was in the kitchen.
Above all, Ray believed the most important job in his life
was being a father. He was not only Ronet’s husband and John’s father, he was their
best friend. During the last day of Ray’s life, John told him that having the
greatest dad in the world for 19 years was better than having a mediocre dad
for 50 years. In addition to his wife and son, he left many other family
members including three siblings whom he loved very much, Carole Gaughan, Anthony
Paternoster, and Kim Paternoster. He was predeceased by his parents Anthony and
Florence, as well as his brother John.
There will be celebration of Ray’s life in the summer of
2017. In lieu of flowers, donations in Ray’s honor can be made to the Delaware
Food Bank, the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, or the American
Civil Liberties Foundation.