Francisco Ayala, Biologist and Defender of Evolution, Dies at 88

Instead, he continued to write, assisted colleagues with their work and devoted his time to his family and the small vineyards the family owns in Northern California, a business that made him wealthy enough to become one of the university’s most generous donors.

Francisco José Ayala Pereda was born in Madrid on March 12, 1934, to José Ayala and Soledad Pereda. He studied theology at the Pontifical Faculty of San Esteban in Salamanca, Spain, and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1960. But he left the priesthood almost immediately and came to the United States in 1961 for graduate study in genetics at Columbia University.

He became an American citizen in 1971.

From Columbia, he went to Rockefeller University in Manhattan, then to the University of California at Davis and finally, in 1987, to Irvine, where he lived.

His marriage in 1968 to Mary Henderson ended in divorce. He married Hana Lostokova, an ecologist, in 1985. In addition to his son Carlos, he is survived by his wife, another son, Jose, and four grandchildren.

Dr. Ayala’s ouster from Irvine remains a subject of disagreement.

His accusers said his generosity to the university may have shielded him, making administrators reluctant to address a long pattern of unacceptable behavior and allowing it to continue unchecked for years.

His supporters said he was generous with more than money — with time, wisdom and concern — to colleagues and students. And his actions, they said, should not dim his accomplishments in science.

“One should not mourn someone who has lived such a long and rich life,” Dr. Scott said. “But he will be missed.”