JESSICA ANN NATHANSON, 42, assistant professor at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minn., and director of the Women’s Studies Program and the Women’s Resource Center there, died of breast cancer Apr. 5, 2011. She received her master’s and doctoral degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo. After teaching at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., where she was an active force in feminist organizations and a contributor to Dakota Women, she joined the faculty at Augsburg and was instrumental in shaping the Women’s Studies community there. She co-moderated the international women’s studies listserv, WMST-L, and co-edited the book Mother Knows Best: Talking Back to the “Experts”. At the time of her death she was working on a book project dealing with new media and the production of feminist theory. Survivors include her husband, Dr. Dan Weinstein ’91, one son, her parents, and her brother.
JAMES P. MAHER, 44, a high school mathematics teacher and amateur musician, died Dec. 30, 2011. He received a bachelor’s degree from St. Michael’s College and a master’s from New York University. His parents, four siblings, and a large extended family survive.
JULIUS J. FORD, an attorney, co-founder of the Harriet Project, and a tireless community and political activist, died Oct. 8, 2009. He was 41. After receiving his degree he worked as a social worker before entering the Boston College Law School, where he received his law degree. He then launched the Harriet Project, an intergenerational, interracial gathering that promotes critical thinking, artistic freedom, and healthy living practices for disenfranchised youth and their communities. At the time of his death he also worked for the Western Massachusetts Center for Healthy Communities, a private agency that provides preventative healthcare for youth and others. Among those who survive are his wife, Debora Ferreira, two sons, his father and stepmother, his sister, and a large extended family.
RACHEL MELCHIOR HENDERSON FALLS, the national hotline director for the National Abortion Federation in Washington, D.C., died of brain cancer Aug. 24, 2008, at age 40. She received an MFA from the University of Iowa, worked as a stage manager, lighting designer, and dramaturg, and taught in the theater departments at the University of Iowa and the International School in Amstelveen, the Netherlands. Diagnosed with brain cancer in 1989, she was an inspiration to many through public speaking and counseling for brain cancer patients and their families. Several awards have been created in her honor. She is survived by her husband, William Falls, whom she married in 2001, her mother, three sisters, including Mary Hannah Henderson ’95, her stepmother, three nieces and nephews, and her cousin, Wesleyan Professor of English, Emerita, Gertrude R. Hughes.
BETSY BURTON, 38, a doctoral student in clinical psychology at The Wright Institute in Oakland, Calif., died Dec. 17, 2006. She had battled manic depressive illness for some years and committed suicide. An outstanding athlete and vice president of the senior class, she was also a resident adviser at Wesleyan and played #1 singles in both squash and tennis. She received the Jones Award as the top player in both tennis and squash. Throughout her short career she worked with children in a variety of settings. Predeceased by her father, Michael B. Burton ’65, she is survived by her mother, Linda S. Burton; two sisters, including Carly Burton ’97; her paternal grandmother; her brother-in-law; a niece and nephew; and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Hi all. Here’s what we have:
Carolyn Vellengo Berman writes that she has been thinking about Wesleyan quite a bit since she and her husband Greg Berman ’89, along with Sarah McNaughton Williams ’88, hosted a fundraiser for the Wesleyan Center for Prison Education last spring. “It was fun to catch up with Wesleyan friends and make some new ones as well. I also had an opportunity to review Wesleyan Professor Andrew Curran’s marvelous new book, The Anatomy of Blackness, for H-France this year. Highly recommended.”
Josh Leichter is doing “excellent, with lots going on.” He is engaged to be married to “the unparalleled Dr. Kyra Bobinet. My daughter’s a freshman at college. Not Wes, but a school that I am in love with, College of Wooster in Ohio. My son is a junior in high school and more focused than he’s ever been about anything on getting his driver’s license (those in Boston area, beware).” Josh is about to switch jobs and in two years will be moving to SF Bay Area, where his fiancée lives.
Alison Bowers writes in after attending the beautiful Bar Mitzvah of David Gottlieb, son of Bethel Gorin Gottlieb and the late Brian Gottlieb ’88 and grandson of Robert Gorin ’57. Also at the event were Laurie Malkin, Kerry Kourepenos, Seth Bergstein ’88, and Alex Mochary Bergstein ’88.
Also writing from the Northeast is Ben Robertson, an actor and writer in Keene, N.H. Ben helped start the Monadnock International Film Festival and is on the board getting ready for the second annual festival in April. He “would love to get film submissions from Wes alums as well as see friends from Wes next year at the fest.” You can see more about MONIff at moniff.org.
Next door in western Vermont, Ernie Luikart ’91 and Wendy Herrick ’90 are still living happily with their two daughters, Molly (8) and Emma (11). Ernie is working both as a full-time RN and also teaching a class, Natural Disasters, at Green Mountain College. Wendy continues to counsel students and teach classes on psychology and other subjects at Long Trail School in Dorset, Vt. Ernie has made a nearly full recovery after falling out of a tree (“testing it to see if it was safe for the daughters to climb—it wasn’t”) and fracturing the lateral processes of three lumbar vertebrae and cracking a rib or two. “I am not quite as good as new, but I wasn’t before the fall either.”
Bruce Hooke moved to Plainfield, Mass., and bought a home next door to a retreat center called Earthdance, a center for improvisational dance, theater, and movement. His life is “now closely interwoven with the community at Earthdance.”
Ed Ungvarsky writes from his family’s new house in Washington, D.C., where “they expect to stay until the golden years.” The special needs-focused public charter school that his wife, Olivia Smith ’91, founded and directs has expanded to a second campus and is frequently cited as a model school. Their daughters happily play soccer and listen to Taylor Swift.
Congratulations to Gerald Richards, CEO of 826 National (826national.org), a nonprofit network of creative writing and after-school tutoring centers located in eight cities. He was in D.C. at the Library of Congress to receive the inaugural American Prize for Literacy, which was given to 826 National for their work over the past decade. “There are 826 centers in New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Boston, Detroit/Ann Arbor, and San Francisco. It was a great honor for our organization and cool to be in the Library of Congress. If you are looking for a volunteer opportunity, walk into an 826 center in your city or take your kids by to visit one of our storefronts.”
Finally, it has been brought to my attention that congratulations are also due to Michael Thomas, a veteran of Kosovo and Afghanistan, who has become a hero to local veterans in Connecticut. Michael has taken over a Subway franchise location and used it to set up a veterans program. He employs several veterans, some with disabilities, and teaches them (along with his employees who are not veterans) a broad range of skills necessary for today’s job market. His vision includes using the location as a space where veterans can network, obtain career advice, and meet with VA or New Haven Vet Center staff. In addition to awards and certificates he received during his military years, Michael has recently been given a few more honors for his latest work. First, the Connecticut Small Business Administration awarded him the 2013 Veteran Owned Small Business Award. Second, he was inducted into the Connecticut Veteran Hall of Fame. Fewer than 100 people have been inducted to the Hall, which is for veterans who have contributed significantly to their communities after the conclusion of their military service.
That’s all for now. Please keep your updates coming.
Vanessa Montag Brosgol