Obituaries and Remembrances
The things that defined them; the things we'll miss
Sally Crawford Fox – January 3, 2017
From the Columbia, South Carolina State, January 12, 2017
Marking the end of a lengthy battle with complications due to scleroderma and lupus, Sarah Crawford Fox passed away in the early evening of Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017, with her son, Colin, by her side. Sarah Wilson Crawford was born January 12th, 1941, and raised in New York City’s Greenwich Village – first on Washington Square, then on Bleecker Gardens. She attended Friends Seminary K-12, received a B.A. from Barnard College, and a master’s from The Bank Street College of Education.
Fox’s first job was in book publishing at Fawcett Publications. Among other highlights, she assisted in the editing of such books as Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, and the first three volumes of John D. MacDonald’s “Travis McGee” series. It was also there that she met her soon-to-be husband, South Carolina author Bill Fox.
From New York City the couple moved to Los Angeles, and then to Iowa City, Iowa, in 1968. While living in the community surrounding the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Fox’s circle of friends included some of 20th Century America’s greatest writers. Iowa City was also the birthplace of Fox’s sons, Wyatt and Colin. The tragic loss of Wyatt to cancer at the age of four precipitated a family move to her husband’s native Columbia, S.C., in 1974. An acutely reluctant southerner, Fox would come to love Columbia. Ultimately feeling blessed to call it home as she lived out her days.
A lifelong champion of lost causes such as keeping a lamb as a house pet, Fox became a vocal advocate of public schools, Gamecock sports, and Democratic Politics including an unsuccessful 1984 bid for City Council during which coverage by the Columbia Record consistently referred to her as a “Yankee”. (Not that she would have had it any other way.) Failure to housebreak livestock notwithstanding, Fox was an animal-lover of the highest possible order. While Golden Retrievers and Black Labs were household constants, she also centered much of her extensive world travels around her love of animals. A trip to Borneo to spend several weeks working at Biruté Galdikas’s Orangutan sanctuary may very well have been the happiest time of her life.
A dedicated supporter of the Riverbanks Zoo, the Nickelodeon, and President Barack Obama, Sarah Crawford Fox was also a devoted mother and lover of the arts, flowers and good friends. She was supremely grateful to spend her final months surrounded by the things she held most dear. She is survived by her beloved pooch, Lily, and her son, Colin Travis Fox. In early April The University of South Carolina School of Medicine’s Gift-of-Body Program will hold a memorial service to which all are welcome.
From Sarah herself – for this Record Book
I’ve suffered from an auto-immune disease, scleroderma, for years. This year, I did the classic thing: tripped over the dog and fell down the stairs, breaking a hip along the way. Really! After surgery that went badly, I was rescued from rehab by my son, who left his work in New York to come and live with me so that I can manage in my own home once again. Medicare has generously paid for home health care for two years. I’m grateful for that and for my son.
From Jennifer Carden Rogers
She was a dear friend at college...kept a guinea pig in a hole in the wall in her room in Navy...went out with my brother for a while...an old-time Quaker...this has hit me hard. RIP, Sally.
Mary-Louise Serri Murray-Johnson – December 6, 2016
From her daughter, Louise Murray
I am sad to inform you that my mother, Mary Louise Murray-Johnson, died on Tuesday (December 6) due to complications from breast cancer. I was with her at the hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.
The memorial for my mother, Mary Louise Murray-Johnson, was held on Wednesday December 21 at 10 am at the Church of the Resurrection, 910 Boston Post Road, Rye, NY. Following the ceremony she was buried at the Calverton National Cemetery in Riverhead, Long Island with her husband Lewis Johnson.
Postscript: She didn't tell anyone about her breast cancer and, in fact, told her oncologist that she wanted to be like Nora Ephron, who didn't tell anyone about her cancer. She told me she didn't want people to see her differently.
From Martha Reardon Bewick writing back to Mary Lou’s daughter, Louise
I am shocked by your news since your mother was such a happy and frequent correspondent about life in Germany. She never mentioned her illness. I held a hope that I would get together with her to enjoy a Christmas market one day.
She was like an exotic flower as a classmate - beautiful, elegant, graceful, and with such a lovely voice. I have enjoyed her recipes and her notes about her discussion group in Heidelberg. May you share many happy memories during these next days. I am so happy you could be with her in her last days, and know how important that is for both of you.
From Karen Capriles Hodges
I did not really know Mary Louise, except to notice how beautiful she looked (mostly in white linen and lace) at our early reunions, and because of interchanges in connection with the 50th Reunion Record Book.
I can only say that I too am shocked. Just from the little I knew of her, she seemed to me a force of nature, never to be quelled or felled. She was also, I believe, a woman who persevered and did not let go of something until it was just as she wanted it! How brave of her to have kept the news of her illness to herself, though many of her friends/classmates, no doubt, would have wanted to know. Following in Nora's footsteps?
From Joanne Couch Cogar writing back to Mary Lou’s daughter, Louise
I'm shocked and saddened. Mary Lou and I have been sending email messages back and forth all month but never a peep about health problems. She was such an intellectual force right to the end, firing off editorials to the NY Times and running her German-American political discussion group in Heidelberg. It’s hard to believe she is gone.
Of my memories of Mary Lou as a young woman, the one that best captures her essence involves opera, of course. She had been preparing an aria with the teacher of Anna Moffo in New York. When it was being performed in Philadelphia, Mary Lou and her husband, Martin, came to Philadelphia to join my husband and me for dinner and the opera. As always, she looked beautiful with her shiny, dark hair, fine jewelry, and a white mink coat. We arrived at the opera venue just minutes after the opera had begun and were denied entry until the intermission. This meant Mary Lou would miss the very aria she had come to hear. In a flash, Mary Lou broke past the guard, who pulled on the sleeve of her coat. She smiled sweetly and said to him, “You wouldn’t hurt a lady in a white mink, would you?” whereupon he yielded, and she went rushing up the stairs to her seat. Mary Lou was pretty and charming, smart, ambitious, and impassioned. She and I both laughingly referred to her as a “tiger.”
From Joan Foedisch Adibi
I too am shocked and saddened. It's hard to believe. Mary Lou was such a vibrant and strong-willed person. I lost touch with her. I feel badly. She would reach out now and then about Iran and/or her problems with men. Everything was always so dramatic. She was a consummate opera singer! She loved Siamak and he her. Oh dear. How can it be? I am truly shaken. It puts life in perspective, doesn't it?
Nancy Jane Davidson Shestack – September 20, 2016
Nancy Jane Davidson Shestack passed away on September 20, 2016 in Washington, D.C. Nancy had suffered from physical disabilities in recent years, which didn’t curb her commitment to immigrants, or her enthusiasm for life.
Beloved wife of 49 years of Alan Shestack, Nancy Jane leaves behind many close friends, including the grateful clients she helped over the years in her extensive practice as an immigration lawyer. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Nancy Jane graduated from Wellesley College and Yale Law School. An early Peace Corps volunteer in India, she spent most of her professional life assisting refugees seeking political asylum in the United States. She moved to Washington twenty years ago when her husband became Deputy Director of the National Gallery of Art. A memorial service was held at Pumphrey’s in Bethesda, Maryland.
From Diane Churchill
Decades ago, at a reunion, I overheard a bit of conversation as Nancy discussed her job as as an immigration lawyer with a classmate. I eavesdropped. I wanted to hear more, admiring her voice and passion for her work. After that, I sought her out and reveled in our conversations, in person or on the phone.
At first it was the nobility of her work tirelessly helping immigrants that moved me. Then it was her prodigious intellect. Then it was the sparkle in her eyes and voice when she spoke of her beloved husband Alan. Finally, at the last reunion, 2012, it was her bravery, her heart searing bravery, celebrating life and all of us in spite of severe pain and her diminished physical state. Maybe others remember her grand spunk at the parade when she walked, smiled and danced, cane and all, lifted up by her devotion to life and to her husband Alan, and lifting me (us) up in the process.
That breathtaking spunk, was evident when she was young too. She spoke of her Peace Corps time in India and marvelous travels as a young woman alone throughout the East and Mideast.
She was intensely proud of her husband’s illustrious career as a curator and Museum Director. I never visited their home in D.C., but I know it was filled with art and friends from all over the world, many of whom Nancy had befriended when they needed her legal help.
In the Fiftieth Reunion Record Book she beautifully describes her life and goals, and her “wonderment at the many ways the threads of life can be woven…” plus her concern “about the future of our nation, the enrichment of our lands, the diversity of species, and the fullness of the choices before us.” The world deeply affected her, and, in turn, she affected the world for the good. Such a bright light in this world, and in our Wellesley world! I am grateful to have known her. With love and admiration, Nancy.
From Lucretia Slaughter
Nancy was an attentive friend. She loved to cook for everybody, loved to throw a party, and tried always to stay in touch. When Nancy and Alan were in the Boston area, Nancy would come over to my house for Christmas Eve tea. She and Alan did not have a big tree, whereas my family always did. Our pleasure in the holidays was magnified by Nancy’s enjoyment of our Christmas tree, and my children still remember her Christmas Eve visits.
From Martha Reardon Bewick
Nancy suffered from rheumatoid arthritis from her high school days, and lived in constant pain. She passed away unexpectedly after asking her husband if he could bring her a sandwich as she rested in bed. Alan has been so grateful to receive messages from classmates.
Nancy taught for a number of years, and then at 35, audited law courses. After law school she decided to focus on immigration law. Alan said that she represented immigrants in a range of complex problems over the years in more than 200 cases. He was very proud to observe that she didn’t lose one.
From Barbara Schlesinger Paul
Nancy was a close friend at Wellesley, and we remained friends afterwards. Nancy was a force. She always impressed me with her sincerity, her values, and her ability to put into action her deep interest in making other peoples’ lives better. At college we shared our reverence for philosophy, and later we both enjoyed collecting unique handmade textiles from around the world. I admired her without bounds for compartmentalizing her own problems in order to focus on her work helping other people survive obstacles. What a legacy! I am proud to have known Nancy. Her presence remains strong in my mind and heart, and I’m sure that holds true for many others she knew and helped.
Ann Heyman Caplan – July 18, 2016
Ann Heyman Caplan, a lovely and gracious person, passed away on July 18, 2016 in Northampton, Massachusetts. She spent many years as a psychologist, helping children and families in need.
Ann died peacefully at her home in Northampton with her family at her side. She is survived by her husband Jeff Caplan, her children Jamie and John Caplan and her daughters-in-law Jennifer DiGrazia and Jill Caplan. She was Grannie Annie to Jacob Caplan, Jordan DiGrazia Caplan, Sam and Ella Caplan. Funeral services were held Wednesday, July 20th, 2016 at Congregation B’nai Israel, 253 Prospect Street, in Northampton. Donations may be made in her honor to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
Patricia “Trish” Trotter Pazdral – May 24, 2016
Patricia “Trish” Trotter Pazdral of Victorville, California, was a person full of life and enthusiasm. Born on August 25, 1940 in Victorville, California, she passed away on May 24, 2016 at the age of 75. She lived in Torrance from 1976 to 2002. She is survived by her husband of 50 years, Dr. William Pazdral; her brother Tom Trotter; her daughters, Elizabeth Pazdral, Teresa Pazdral-Hale, Rebecca Pazdral, Susannah Giezentaner, and five grandchildren.
Patricia graduated from Wellesley College in 1962, received a Masters in Economics from Stanford and a Masters of Public Health from UCLA. She worked in the Torrance Unified School District at Bert Lynn Middle School teaching 8th grade Math and Algebra for 12 years. She worked as the CFO for her husband’s pediatric practice in Victorville for eight years before retirement.
Patricia championed Girl Scouting and served for years as the Torrance Neighborhood Cookie Chairman, earning her the camp name “Cookie” which she used at the Mojave Primitive Encampment from 1984-1989.
She was an avid reader and enjoyed traveling with her husband and family. Trish was loved by all who knew her and inspired many. She will be greatly missed. Her celebration of life was held at the Spring Valley Lake Country Club in Victorville, California on September 11, 2016. In her honor, donations can be made to the ASPCA or The Audubon Society.
Susan Dorrance Kopecek – August 16, 2015
Susan D. Kopecek, born in Utica, New York, May 24, 1941, to Henry Turner Dorrance and Rose Holfelder Dorrance, passed away unexpectedly on August 16, 2015, at her home in Iowa. She graduated from New Hartford Central High School in 1958 and Wellesley College in 1962 with a B.A. in English Literature. A talented piano player, Susan loved playing the carillon bells during her Wellesley years. Upon graduation, she lived for two years in Alexandria, Egypt, where she shared her passion for English and literature as a teacher at an international school for children whose parents worked throughout Africa. It was one of her most fond adventures.
In 1964, she married Thomas A. Kopecek, her husband of nearly 51 years, in an intimate ceremony in Utica, N.Y. A loving wife and mother, Susan was also an avid writer who cherished her many friendships with a wide variety of friends and writers she came to know and love all over the country.
She is survived by her husband, Thomas; two children, Sarah Tsai, Peter Kopecek; and her beloved grandchild, Chloe Kopecek. A private memorial service and internment were held in Forest Park Cemetery in Camden, New York.
From Sarah Kopecek ’96
Susan loved her years at Wellesley, excelling at English and forming lifelong friendships with her professors, fellow English majors, and classmates. Perhaps her most cherished Wellesley memories were climbing to the top of the bell tower and playing the carillon bells. She is, and always will be, greatly missed by her family and friends.
From Anne Ruhoff Turtle
Hailing from New Hartford, N.Y., Susan lived all four years in Bates. An English major, she had a quick wit and a ready smile. She taught at the American School in Alexandria, Egypt, and studied English Lit at Syracuse University. She married Thomas A. Kopecek on August 29, 1964. They moved to Otley, Iowa, after Tom received his Ph.D. from Brown University, and they continued to reside there throughout their married life. Susan is survived by Sarah Tsai, Wellesley ’96, and Peter Kopecek and their spouses and one granddaughter, Chloe Kopecek, in whom Susan delighted. For many years Susan suffered with significant health challenges about which she wrote me earlier this year, “I’m finding aging to be difficult!”
Grace Yap Chan - January 27, 2015
Grace was born in Sukabumi, Indonesia on November 15, 1940 to Dr. and Mrs. Tien L. Yap, owners of a tea plantation that exported teas all over the world. Her parents were very keen on education and sent the three children overseas to study in high schools and universities. Grace became a boarding student in the English Diocesan Girls High School in Hong Kong where she learned English.
In summer of 1958, she came to the United States, and enrolled in Wellesley College with a four-year full scholarship. Grace was academically gifted and earned a B.S. in Biology from Wellesley, an M.S. in Biology, from the University of Rochester, in Rochester, New York, an M.A. in Education from the University of Rochester, and an MBA in Finance from the University of Houston.
Grace met her husband James Chan at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, where he was pursuing his Ph.D. in Microbiology. They were married in the Summer of 1964. She and James had been married fifty-one years at the time of her death.
Before retirement, Grace worked for many years at Shell Oil Company, in Houston, Texas, as Senior Computer Informationist in Environmental Health.
Grace suffered a first stroke in December, 1999, but recovered partially. She suffered a second stroke in June, 2001 and became severely disabled, undergoing rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial in Houston. She was cared for at home by four devoted caregivers and her husband 24/7, during the last 15 year of her life. Her husband wrote that she led a dignified life.
She was compassionate to cats while she enjoyed good health. For ten years, she would take wounded, abandoned cats to vets, and nurse them to health. She also enjoyed arts and music, reading and travel when she was healthy.
Betty Jane “BJ” Diener – January 23, 2015
The Honorable Dr. Betty J. Diener, 74, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Eastham, Massachusetts died peacefully of pulmonary fibrosis on January 23, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale. She was born in Washington D.C. to Edward and Millie Field Diener on September 15, 1940 and attended Arlington, Virginia schools. Dr. Diener received her B.A. from Wellesley College in Massachusetts, and was one of the first women to earn an MBA and a Doctorate from Harvard Business School. She had a successful 50-year career in business, academia and politics, serving as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce and Resources under Governor Chuck Robb from 1982-1986. In that position, Dr. Diener overhauled Virginia’s advertising and image, advanced the state’s wine industry, oversaw the state role in the cleanup of Chesapeake Bay and promoted the sale of Virginia-made products. The Virginia Press Association named her Newsmaker of the Year in 1983.
Dr. Diener worked for Young & Rubicam and American Cyanamid prior to obtaining her DBA from Harvard in 1974. She then entered the most fulfilling phase of her life as a teacher and administrator at various universities. She was Assistant Dean at Case Western Reserve University, Dean of the Business School at Old Dominion University, Provost and Professor at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and upon retiring to Florida, she was Professor of Management at Andreas School of Business at Barry University in Miami Shores, finally retiring from that position in 2012. Dr. Diener was an exceptional teacher, eager and devoted to training future business leaders.
An international expert on environmental management/sustainability, Dr. Diener was one of the first to teach the strategic importance of sustainable growth. She was twice a Fulbright scholar conducting sustainability research and training in China and India. She developed curricula on sustainability, and published in academic journals and served on editorial boards. She also served on a number of corporate and non-profit boards, including the Council for a Sustainable Florida, the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, the Environmental Business Council of New England, and the Provincetown Repertory Theater.
She was a long-time advocate for the advancement of women in business and for gender equality. She was recognized twice by Glamour magazine as one of the outstanding Working Women of 1979 and of the decade in 1983. An avid traveler, she visited every continent, and loved sports, politics, and Texas “hold-em”. She was predeceased by her husband Robert Bell. She leaves a wide circle of friends, particularly in Massachusetts, Virginia and Florida, and she is sadly missed by all.
A memorial reception and exhibit was held on February 23, 2015, at Stonewall National Museum & Archives in Fort Lauderdale. Her burial took place at in Blandford Cemetery, Petersburg, Virginia.
From Susan Bloomenthal Maynard ’63
In 1975, Betty, as a dean at the School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, developed “Women in Management”, a curriculum aimed at women with no undergraduate business background who wanted to pursue an MBA. She sent information to Wellesley alumnae in the area and, being ready to rejoin the work force, I enrolled. Betty taught marketing and generated enthusiasm, optimism, and a Wellesley spirit of camaraderie. She acted as mentor and cheerleader. Because of her bold venture, I overcame my fear of statistics and then pursued a successful IT career. Thanks, Betty!
From Martha Reardon Bewick
BJ was an early class president for Wellesley ’62, and brought some of her incredible energy and invention to our programs and reunions. At the time of our 10th reunion, she was immersed in marketing for Breck shampoo, and we each found a bottle of Breck in our reunion swag, which I thought was great, even though I could never hope to look like one of the golden-haired Breck girls. She left Wellesley at one point because of grades, and transferred to American University where she did so well, she was able to transfer right back to Wellesley, where she graduated happily in 1963. BJ broke all sorts of academic, work and professional barriers, one glass ceiling after another, and flourished in her roles in government and academia. She added great pizzazz to her work environments as well. You can get some sense of that in various interviews she granted over the years. Nothing was impossible to BJ. I think of her as another fearless Southerner, like Peggy Snowden Gill, who had a great public impact, and who rang a lot of bells!
Janice Meissner Murray – August 25, 2014
Janice Lynn Murray died in her Sarasota, Florida home on August 25, 2014. She was born in Portland, Oregon on May 18, 1940, and grew up in Newton, Massachusetts. As an adult, she lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. before moving to Sarasota in 1991.
Janice graduated from the Northfield School for Girls, Wellesley College and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She taught English at the Newton South High School and then worked in educational research and development at the New England School Development Council, the National Institute of Education, and the Congressional Budget Office.
She is survived by her three children, Hugh, Laura and Nicholas Murray of Sarasota and her brother, William B. Meissner of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
According to her wishes, the immediate family got together to celebrate her life, listen to the music of Mozart and Scott Joplin and place her ashes in the lagoon by her house. Her favorite local charity was the YMCA Foundation, known for its work with foster children and families in need.
Elizabeth “Liz” Fielder Lloyd – February 4, 2014
Elizabeth “Liz” Lloyd, age 73, of Little Rock, Arkansas, passed away on February 4, 2014. She was born in Oklahoma City and preceded in death by her parents, Thomas and Anita Fielder. Liz was a Wellesley graduate and a life-time learner. Her first degree was in French. She later presented her junior recital at the University of Arkansas Little Rock (UALR) in piano, and also obtained her accounting degree from UALR and became a licensed CPA. Liz spent many years working at Moon Distributors and Lofland Company until retiring.
Liz is survived by her husband of 51 years, Turner Lloyd; her children, Jay Lloyd and spouse, Shannon Lloyd; Lisa Alexander; and John Lloyd and spouse, Amy Lloyd; and eight grandchildren.
Throughout her life she and Turner enjoyed extensive travel with their lifelong friends, Sherwyn and Barbara Hyten. They spent over 20 years traveling to Hawaii, their favorite place, and enjoying this special friendship.
Liz was a member of a bridge club, a former president of a dance club, a member of the Little Rock Aesthetic Club, a member of an opera club, an honorary member of the Tuna Club, participated in Life Quest, and was a member of Second Presbyterian Church. She was also a master gardener and loved being outside in her garden when she wasn’t inside enjoying great books, listening to classical music or spending time with her family.
Mary Baskerville Sobernheim – October 11, 2013
A graveside service for Mary Neal Baskerville Sobernheim of Greenwood Village, Colorado, who passed away on October 11, 2013, took place at Olinger Hampden Mortuary & Cemetery, in Denver, Colorado, on Thursday October 17th, 2013. Mary lived with and was cared for by her devoted son John until her death, after an extended illness. She was the daughter of the late William Hurt and Frieda Reeder Baskerville. Survivors include three sons, John and Tom of Colorado and David (Myrna) of Houston, Texas and their four children, Leah, Mary, David, and Lilian, her sister Elizabeth Major of Florida, and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.
She was born on Valentine’s Day 1941 in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she made many lifelong friends. She attended St. Anne’s School in Charlottesville, Virginia, received a merit scholarship and attended Wellesley College, and also graduated from Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia. She married John Ronald Sobernheim and they went on to live and work internationally where they made many other lifelong friends. He passed away in 2003.
She enjoyed family, loved music, and studied music theory. She loved the arts and visiting museums including the Prado in Madrid. She will be missed.
From Anne Steele Hummel
Mary “Neal” Baskerville Sobernheim ’62 died on Oct. 11, 2013. She arrived at Wellesley from Charlottesville, Virginia. She was gracious and charming, with an accent for which Wellesley required speech rehabilitation. Her college friends remember discussing unanswerable philosophical questions with Neal for hours. Kant, her favorite philosopher, was the subject of her master’s thesis at Emory.
She married John Sobernheim, lived in Venezuela and Puerto Rico, and had three sons. Neal once surprised me with a book on centenarian women and their accomplishments. She won’t be a centenarian, but she was loved and cared for by her sons.
Sara Clift Jones – May 12, 2013
From the Boston Globe, May 23, 2013
Sara Clift Jones, who was a nurse at Boston Children’s Hospital for more than 20 years and who co-founded an after-school program for Roxbury children, died May 12 in her Weston home. She was 72, and was diagnosed with ALS in 2009. Mrs. Jones never had the kind of schedule that accommodated a diagnosis such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. A nurse, a mother, and a woman in perpetual pursuit of knowledge, her hands were more than full at the moment Lou Gehrig’s disease began to curtail her ability to use them. “When she got her ALS diagnosis, she was undaunted as usual,” said her husband, Hugh R. Jones Jr., a past president of the Boston Bar Association. “She resolved to make the most of the time that was given her and saw this as a new opportunity to help others. She described it to friends as a challenge, not a tragedy.” Rather than wait for ALS to subtract from her physical abilities, she added duties, such as offering insights to medical students and launching a fund to support research into finding biomarkers for the disease.
“She was an amazing contributor to this institution, both to the families and, obviously, to the children she took care of,” said Sandra Fenwick, the hospital’s chief executive. “She took her amazing personal abilities, her drive, and her experiences as a mother, and poured them into her profession. I think she was just an extraordinary person.” While working at the hospital, Mrs. Jones noticed that many children from families with limited financial resources had nowhere to go at the end of the school day. Along with her friend Joan Fortune, and with assistance from others, Mrs. Jones co-founded On TRAC, an after-school tutoring and mentoring program that has since become part of the BELL program, or Building Educated Leaders for Life.
Sara Jane Clift was born in Melrose, the oldest of three children, and graduated from Andover High School in 1958. She was the first in her extended family to attend a university, and her four years at Wellesley College were life-changing. “She would say that she would walk across the campus at any season and any time of the day and just wonder at her good fortune at being there,” her husband said. “It empowered her.”
With her husband working as an attorney in Boston, where he is now a retired partner from Wilmer Hale, Mrs. Jones raised their children in Weston. When the youngest started first grade, she returned to school, graduating from Lasell College with a nursing degree. Doing so allowed her to augment serving on the board of Newton-Wellesley Hospital with volunteering on the Bridge Over Troubled Waters medical van, which offers free services and advice to homeless youths and young adults on the streets of Boston and Cambridge.
“She wasn’t at all interested in having it all,” her husband said, “but she was really interested in doing it all. Life was not about her. It was about her causes. Fortunately, her four children, her 12 grandchildren, and I were at the forefront of her causes.”
In addition to her husband , Mrs. Jones leaves a daughter, Allison Elvekrog of Weston; and three sons, Tripp of Wayland, Clift of Cambridge and Dan of Weston; a sister, Janet Rose of Wellesley; a brother, John Clift of Manchester Village, Vermont.; and 12 grandchildren.
From Martha Reardon Bewick
Sara Clift Jones was my idea of a perfect Wellesley graduate – beautiful, intelligent, kind, welcoming, happy, a wonderful wife and mother, accomplished, hard-working and dedicated, doing good, and always there for others. She was one whose core value was “sed ministrare.” Her life was one of service. The amazing Boston Globe article talks about her wonderful after-school program for Boston children, but also captures her heroic management of her disease. She turned herself into an opportunity for others to explore how to approach a cure for ALS. I remember several moments with Sara especially.
Before our 45th reunion, Annie Smith came down from Ontario to deliver a lecture to doctors and nurses at the Massachusetts Medical Society, based on her book Bearing Up with Cancer. Sara gathered a great collection of classmates in her lovely home for a delicious and beautifully arranged luncheon with Annie, and then we all went to hear Annie speak. It was a magical luncheon, and Sara was our warm and welcoming host, at the head of the long table. This was before we lost Annie, and some time before Sara learned about her own illness, in 2009. Annie was inspiring, and, as I think of it today, may have inspired Sara to share her illness with the caretakers and medical profession. They were both heroic.
The other memory I have is of her bringing her immediate family of twenty-two (!) each year to Holiday Pops to celebrate Christmas time together. They sat in the first balcony up on the right from where I could see them from the stage, and I would sing to them all. Even when she was ill they were there. It was so special to share this music of hope and joy and light with Sara and her family. I still think of her when I’m singing there today.
Finally, I remember Sara when she came to join us for a while during our 50th reunion at Wellesley. Her hands weren’t working at that point, but she was there, looking beautiful, enjoying old friendships, bringing a big smile, and making us all so happy to share her presence. It meant a lot to know that she was living her life as fully as she could, in spite of this awful and debilitating illness. Hugh and her family and helpers were her right-hand people. What love they all had for one another.
Phoebe Hicks Hickin – July 26, 2012
From Jeannie McLane Jones
I must have met Phoebe my first day at Wellesley College. She was in a double next door to mine in Bates. What a positive, enthusiastic, smart, attractive woman! We roomed together in Bates for sophomore, junior, and half of senior year. She was an ideal roommate – hard working, considerate, generous, fun. Married just before Christmas our senior year, Phoebe moved into an apartment near campus with her husband. While finishing her senior year, Phoebe somehow managed her classes as well as all the shopping, cooking, and cleaning. She and her husband were wonderful hosts to my husband-to-be and me.
After earning her M.Ed. at Tufts University, Phoebe taught English at the Massachusetts Hospital School for Crippled Children for one year and then taught high school English in Needham for three years, an experience she described as “tortuous” and a “hard struggle” for the first year which, in the end, became her “most exciting experience”.
With the birth of her two children, Phoebe became a full-time homemaker. Although we didn’t see each other often after graduation, we managed to get together for lunch once or twice a year. Phoebe drove to our 50th reunion from Hanover, New Hampshire, and had a chance to see Wellesley and her close friends, especially her Bates group, again. It was a sad and completely unexpected shock to learn that she died just a month later. Phoebe is survived by two children and four grandchildren.
From Anne Ruhoff Turtle and Jane Vennard
Phoebe died on July 26, just eight weeks after attending her 50th reunion. She earned a master’s degree from Tufts after her graduation from Wellesley. Phoebe was an active volunteer in her hometown of Hanover, New Hampshire, registering voters, helping with book sales, and participating in activities at the White Church. An avid reader, she spent many hours at the Howe Library in Hanover. She is survived by her children, Laura and Ben, who believe that their mother was deeply influenced by her Wellesley education. Phoebe is also survived by four grandchildren.
Nora Ephron – June 26, 2012
Announcements of Nora Ephron’s death came as quite a shock to those of us who didn’t know that she had been suffering from myelodysplasia for six years. The news media gave her full coverage, such as the obituary from The Guardian. This is followed by remembrances from a classmate who was her friend.
The Guardian, Ronald Bergan, June 27, 2012
Nora Ephron, who has died aged 71 after suffering from acute myeloid leukaemia, brought her sharp New Yorker wit, laced with a sentimental streak, to glossy Hollywood romantic comedies, with Oscar-nominated screenplays for When Harry Met Sally (1989) and Sleepless in Seattle (1993), the second of which she also directed. They were the nearest and most successful attempts to revive the spirit of the sophisticated Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy battle-of-the-sexes comedies of the 1950s, and the softer-edged Doris Day/Rock Hudson vehicles of the 1960s….
Ephron's parents, Henry and Phoebe Ephron, were also writers of romantic comedies …who based a 1961 Broadway play, Take Her She's Mine, on their daughter's rebellious college days. It was turned into a film two years later, with Sandra Dee in the role of the teenager. Later, Ephron would take elements from her own life and fashion them into screenplays that would typify the genre that became known as the romcom. Although she created strong female characters after her own image, they were never strident or domineering. They were simply the equal of men. But, on the whole, her journalism was much tougher and funnier than the films, with Hollywood, as it usually does, managing to smooth out the sharp edges.
Ephron was born in Manhattan but brought up in Beverly Hills, California, the eldest of four daughters (her sisters, Delia, Hallie and Amy, all became writers too). She became interested in journalism at an early age, and wrote for the university newspaper at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, from which she graduated with a political science degree in 1962.
After working in the postroom of Newsweek in New York, and writing for a satirical magazine, Ephron was taken on as a columnist on the New York Post. By then married to the writer Dan Greenburg, she made a name for herself on the Post, as well as Esquire and the New York Magazine, as the smartest journalist around, inviting comparisons with the humorist Dorothy Parker. She wrote about her love for cooking, New York and sex, in that order, putting a satirical slant on each subject.
In 1975 she met Carl Bernstein, the Washington Post reporter famed for his part in exposing the Watergate scandal, and they married the following year. The couple turned in a script for All the President's Men, the movie based on Watergate, which, according to Robert Redford, who was to be cast as Bernstein's colleague Bob Woodward, showed Bernstein "as the great lover hopping in and out of bed" and made Woodward appear dull. The script was dropped in favour of one by William Goldman, but Ephron got a taste for screenwriting.
Although she had already co-written a story with Greenburg for an episode of the television series Adam's Rib in 1973, a spin-off from the Tracy/Hepburn classic, her first solo effort was the script for a TV movie called Perfect Gentlemen (1978), starring Lauren Bacall.
She had to wait until 1983 for her first feature film, when her friend Mike Nichols asked her to write the screenplay (with Alice Arlen) for Silkwood, based on the life of Karen Silkwood, who died in suspicious circumstances while investigating abuses at a plutonium plant where she had worked….
Streep starred, as Ephron's alter ego, in Heartburn (1986), also directed by Nichols, which charts the breakdown of a marriage destroyed by the infidelity of the husband (Jack Nicholson). It was based on Ephron's 1983 novel of the same name, a thinly disguised tragicomic chronicle of her marriage to Bernstein, which ended in 1980, after he had an affair. … Ephron commented: "I highly recommend having Meryl Streep play you. If your husband is cheating on you with a carhop, get Meryl to play you. You will feel much better.”….
In her essays, collected in volumes including Crazy Salad (1975), I Feel Bad About My Neck (2006) and I Remember Nothing (2010), Ephron demonstrated a clear-eyed view of herself. She was a vibrant woman who refused to let her illness interfere with her social life. She is survived by her third husband, the author Nicholas Pileggi, whom she married in 1987, and by Jacob and Max, the sons from her marriage to Bernstein.
From Marcia Burick
And so, after the literally thousands of words written about Nora, it’s time for us to write about her as our ’62 classmate, colleague, friend, roommate, even “agent provocateur”. (Come on now, she’d be saying, if you can say it in English, why do it in something else – except of course her beloved “beurre”.)
. . .
Nora really did love knowing about and hearing about our classmates. A few remembrances of what she’d mentioned over the years: Jane Allison Anderson was drop-dead gorgeous; Louise Connell Mills, Sara Clift Jones, and Marcia Kinnear Townley were adorable at lunch; Susan Sessions Zuccotti and Carolyn Cline and Ros Epstein Krauss were totally brilliant; Louise and her daughter Jennifer were such fun to be with after her play; Linda Seltzer Popofsky’s death saddened her deeply; Susie’s play would open in the Berkshires in the Fall (another “hmm…”); three judges in the class – and a mayor; all those husbands many had accumulated, and children, and grandchildren.
. . .
A week ago Saturday I went to my synagogue here in Northampton and said Kaddish for Nora. She might or might not have approved. (I can’t even imagine what she would say.) But this time it was my call – and very much my own need. We will all miss Nora – her wit, her pen, her films, her spirit, her stories, her joy, her amazing ability to light up a room, her bravery (over and over and over again). Especially, we will miss her incredible genius for friendship. That will be a gift forever.
Mary “Polly” Penrose Colby – June 17, 2012
Mary P. “Polly” Penrose Colby, died on Sunday, June 17, 2012 in Madison, Wisconsin. She was born on May 19, 1941, in New York, the daughter of Stephen B. L. Penrose II and Margaret Penrose. Her most cherished role was that of mother and grandmother. She was extremely proud of her children: William (Binks), Fredrick (Rick) and Stephen (Steve).
Polly enjoyed learning throughout her life and that passion was extremely obvious in her years as a history teacher at Madison West High School. She hoped to leave her students with a sense of pride in themselves, not just the ability to pass a test. To her, knowledge was a journey, not something that was always quantifiable. She found great joy when former students would contact her to share their success stories. History, both of the world and of her family, was of great interest to her. She spent many hours in her retirement learning and documenting her extended family’s histories. She was extremely interested to see the influences of her family as it went back through generations, and spent many hours reviewing family photos, letters, and papers in her possession as well as those found in the National Archives.
Polly was an active volunteer until health issues became more predominant. She was a tour guide for the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin; worker at the Hospice Thrift Store in Madison; and tour guide and usher at the Overture Center in Madison. She is survived by her three sons and their spouses, three grandchildren, a sister, a brother, many nieces and nephews, a large extended family and many friends.
From Gladys Egge Henrikson
How lovely to remember Polly. She was blond and beautiful. And also a thoughtful soul. Polly had come to Wellesley from Lebanon, where her father had been head of the American School. When he died suddenly, Polly enrolled at Wellesley as planned, and her mother moved to California, where she had a teaching job in some university. Polly was only with us a year and then transferred to Pomona, I believe, to be near her mother.
From Cynthia Perkins Turnure
I have fond memories of Polly Penrose Colby. We were both from the same small town in California. We even ended up in the same dorm (Munger). I believe she transferred to Earlham, a Quaker college, and I didn’t keep up with her after that. Wish I had.
Mary M. Campbell – May 19, 2012
Mary M. Campbell, died May 19, 2012 at Brookside Nursing Home due to complications from Alzheimer's. Born in Hanover, NH September 14, 1940, she was the daughter of Clarence and Edith Campbell, who preceded her in death.
Mary graduated from Hanover High School in 1958 and Wellesley College in 1962 with a B.A. in art history. After graduation, Mary joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Venezuela. Later she moved to Boston, MA where she was employed at The Architects' Collaborative and at Eisenberg and Schiffer Architects. During this time she continued her education studying architecture and planning at the Boston Architectural Center.
Mary then moved to Haverhill, NH and cared for her mother for several years. After the death of her mother, Mary was employed at the Montshire Museum of Science and later the Cold Region Research Engineering Labs. She served as a volunteer for many community programs including the Haverhill Library Association, Bedell Covered Bridge, Inc., Haverhill Historical Society, Haverhill Planning Board, Thresholds program at the Grafton County Jail, and Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).
Mary greatly enjoyed entertaining and was famous for slow cooking, with many gourmet meals served into the night. She was interested in many arts and crafts especially weaving, knitting, and sewing. At her home on the Haverhill Common she raised sheep for wool, grew plants for dyes, and spun yarn. She also collected a remarkable selection of fabric, yarn, and patterns for any occasion as well as literature on crafts and historical topics. For years Mary joined neighbors for a morning walk around the Haverhill Common and Court Street.
Mary was married to William (Bill) Koch, Jr. who died in 2009. She is survived by her sisters, Ann Campbell of Somerville MA and Elizabeth Campbell (Gregory Hill) of Seattle WA, and her niece Caroline Hill of Washington DC.
From Martha Reardon Bewick
Mary M. Campbell died on May 19, 2012, of complications from Alzheimer’s. She was a kind, graceful, gentle spirit, with a lovely humor. After two years in Venezuela with the Peace Corps, Mary worked for architectural firms in the Boston area and studied architecture. Her broad volunteer activity in Haverhill, N.H., where she moved to care for her mother, included the Haverhill Historical Society. A craftswoman, she raised sheep for wool, grew plants for dyes, and spun yarn.
Those We've Lost Since our Last Reunion
Our sympathy and love go to the families and friends of these classmates whom we've lost in the past five years:
Sally Crawford Fox
Mary Louise Serri Murray-Johnson
Nancy Jane Davidson Shestack
Ann Heyman Caplan
Patricia "Trish" Trotter Pazdral
Susan Dorrance Kopecek
Grace Yap Chan
Betty Jane "BJ" Diener
Elizabeth "Liz" Fielder Lloyd
Janice Meissner Murray
Mary Baskerville Sobernheim
Sara Clift Jones
Phoebe Hicks Hickin
Mary "Polly" Penrose Colby
Mary M Campbell
And to all those who have lost husbands or partners, we send our sincere condolences:
Ros Micou Winsor
Martha Reardon Bewick
Carol "Willy" Williams Gould
Renie Stifel Smith
Suzanne Latt Epstein
and all others