Ed Ransford, Ph.D.

Date of Birth

August 27, 1936

Date of Death

July 24, 2023

Professor Emeriti (USC, Department of Sociology)

1936 – 2023

Ed Ransford died peacefully on July 24, 2023 at Cottage Hospital, Santa Barbara. He was born in Los Angeles to his parents, Henry and Marguerite, August 27, 1936 and grew up in West Pasadena in an area known as San Rafael. He went to public schools and many of his friends from that time in his life have kept in touch with him over the years. He had a close relationship with his older sister, who died in 2020. Ed’s warmth, intelligence, kindness, great interest in others and superb listening skills touched anyone he came in contact with. He was a beautiful soul; a loving husband, father, and grandfather.

Ed and his first wife had two incredible sons, Todd and Jeff. His relationships with each son was unique and special and he maintained an active interest in each of their lives. There was always time for intellectual discussions and challenges to the status quo. Ed and his wife Chris Fredericks moved to Carpinteria in 2011 and quickly immersed themselves in the close community of this small beach town.  They were both volunteers at the Carpinteria Art Center. 

Ed has four wonderful grandchildren and one great granddaughter, born on June 2nd. Partial commentary on his loss from granddaughter Elaina speaks to the impact he had on their lives:  “…Devastated by the loss of my incredible Granddad. Hilarious, kind, creative, and brilliant…an incredibly talented upright bass player and jazz musician, and an amazing husband.” From his grandson, Cameron, “…He was an incredible man who was so ahead of his time in many ways. He had a profound impact on his community and countless students…He had a unique way of lighting up any room he entered with his trademark sense of humor and love for life. The world is a worse place without him.”

Ed was a legendary faculty member of the USC Sociology department for more than 50 years. Ed came 

to USC Sociology in 1969 after earning a Bachelor’s degree from Occidental College, and Masters and PhD degrees from UCLA. As a young scholar, Ed conducted some of the most important research on the Watts riots and was a pioneer in developing intersectionality theory and research. Later, Ed joined his interest in race relations with medical sociology, focusing his research and teaching on health justice, and how the interaction of race and class inequalities impact health and medical care access. His most recent work identified the barriers to health care among Latino immigrants in the Los Angeles area. A winner of USC’s Associates Award for Excellence in Teaching and numerous other teaching awards, Ed was beloved by generations of undergraduates, and served as a generous mentor for many graduate students. Ed served the department as Director of Undergraduate Studies for more than 20 years. His gentle demeanor, warm presence, and unwavering positivity toward work and life were universally appreciated by his faculty and staff colleagues. 

Ed was also a lover of jazz and an accomplished musician. Many friends and acquaintances had the chance to see Ed play the upright bass at various clubs in the region. More recently he was a member of two different groups in the Santa Barbara area, Jazz Mandala and the Americana Cats, playing at various local venues. He was a committed athlete; a surfer in his youth, windsurfer, body boarder, gym workout fiend, and lover of all things “ocean.” Ed’s playfulness, humor, and kindness were omnipresent. Known as “The King” by his best friend/childhood buddy, John Holmquist, their favorite saying was, “Peace to the King!” Peace to you, dear Ed. You will be greatly missed.


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