Their Light Lives On

These are the alumni death notices received by the College during this issue's production cycle. To report a death notice, email

Helen Van Tuyl Davis

Helen Van Tuyl Davis '34

Helen Van Tuyl Davis '34, a U.S. government economist turned real estate agent, died Oct. 20, 2017.

A lifelong hiker and swimmer deeply interested in nutrition and health issues, Helen raised her family in a former farmhouse in McLean, Va., where she grew vegetables and explored the mountains.

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Isabel Benkert Daly '37

Isabel Benkert Daly '37, who graduated with an honors math degree and worked as an actuary and a homemaker, died Sept. 22, 2017.

Daughter Florence Battis Mini ’68 wrote: “My mother raised the four of us, took care of her aging father, ran the household, and folded my older half sister happily into the rest of the family, all with every appearance of serenity. She also volunteered at church, led a Girl Scout troop, learned to identify every tree in North America (or so it seemed), and earned an MLS. She always could give someone a ride; friends were always welcome for dinner or to stay the night.”

Halcyon picture of Celia Price Patterson '39

Celia Price Patterson '39

Celia Price Patterson '39, a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, died Jan. 29, 2016. 

A homemaker who held a B.A. in French from the College, Celia’s fondest hobby was dancing.

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Headshot of Barbara Deweese Day

Barbara Deweese Day '40

Barbara Deweese Day '40, who worked for the Army Finance Office in Seattle and later for the Red Cross as a social worker in military hospitals during World War II, died Oct. 5, 2017.

A homemaker who raised three children, Barbara was an active community volunteer and master storyteller who loved learning, traveling, cooking, and entertaining.

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William Faison Jr. '42

William Faison Jr. '42, a World War II Army veteran who graduated from North Carolina State with a mechanical engineering degree after leaving Swarthmore, died Aug. 23, 2017.

A devoted father and grandfather who built a 34-year career at USS South Works as safety supervisor, he loved piloting his own small plane and taking photographs with his ever-present camera.

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Nicholas Beldecos

Nicholas Beldecos '43

Nicholas Beldecos '43, a Navy veteran, former executive and engineer with Westinghouse Electric Corp., and loving family man, died Oct. 9, 2017.

Over the years, Nick gave of his time and talents to many nonprofit boards, including Magee-Women's Hospital, St. Edmund's Academy, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, and, most notably, Family House, a home away from home for patients and their families dealing with life-threatening illnesses, where he served for 25 years as a founding member.

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Halycon photo of Dorothy Shor Thompson '43

Dorothy Shor Thompson '43

Dorothy Shor Thompson '43, a potter and school bus driver for special education students, died Jan. 6, 2017.

A volunteer reading tutor, she also earned a degree in meteorology from the University of Chicago.

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Barbara Valentine Hertz '43

Barbara Valentine Hertz '43, a graduate of Friends Seminary and Barnard College, died Aug. 24, 2017.

A lifelong lover of the Adirondack Park, she also served as managing editor of Parents Magazine; director of development of Barnard College; director of development at the Rosenstiel School, University of Miami; and director of foundation relations also at University of Miami.

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James Sutor '46

James Sutor '46, a retired vice president and secretary for the board of Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co., died June 1, 2014.

A World War II Navy veteran who served on the USS Monterey in the South Pacific, James was a board member of many organizations, including the Philadelphia Studio-Recording of the Blind and Dyslexic.

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Barbara Stone Gelb

Barbara Stone Gelb '46

Barbara Stone Gelb '46, a celebrated author and journalist who entered Swarthmore at 16 but dropped out to become a copy girl for The New York Times editorial board, died Feb. 1, 2017.

The co-author with her husband of three definitive biographies on the legendary playwright Eugene O’Neill, Gelb penned many other acclaimed books as well as a one-woman play about O’Neill’s third and final wife, Carlotta Monterey.

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photo of Howard Harris '48

Howard Harris '48

Howard Harris '48, a World War II Army veteran who eventually became vice president of public affairs for CPC International, died Aug. 13, 2017.

A lover of sports, classical music, bridge, theater, American history, good friends, and good writing, Howard doted on dogs and was described by his family as “the rock and guide who sheltered and encouraged us.”

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Halcyon photo of Thomas Hodges '49

Thomas Hodges '49

Thomas Hodges '49, husband of Elizabeth Wilbur Hodges ’49, a gifted advertising entrepreneur, and a lifelong lover of Maine, died Aug. 6.

Full of mischief and good humor, “T.V.” could be found inventing gadgets in his basement; writing, illustrating, and binding his own books; creating board games; espaliering fruit trees; cartooning; singing and dancing; or repairing antique clocks. He once built a harpsichord on a lark.

Morton Kimball

Morton Kimball '49

Morton Kimball '49, who served in the U.S. Navy aboard a destroyer during World War II and was recalled to duty during the Korean War, died Sept. 7, 2017.

Formerly NYU’s director of student affairs, “Kim” was an active volunteer in retirement with a lifelong love of opera; Nazareth College now holds his extensive collection of Metropolitan Opera broadcasts.

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Yoshiro Sanbonmatsu

Yoshiro Sanbonmatsu '50

Yoshiro Sanbonmatsu '50, a widely respected and admired teacher who sought to educate his students about the human condition in all its complexities and contradictions, died Oct. 22, 2017.

A passionate social justice advocate who handcrafted dollhouses—with working doorbells and real wallpaper—for each of his daughters, Yosh became a full-time artist after retirement and is remembered for his great dignity and moral seriousness as well as for his playfulness, good humor, compassion, and humility.

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Halcyon photo of Stephen Sickle '50

Stephen Sickle '50

Stephen Sickle '50, a loving husband, father, and grandfather who also held an MBA in marketing from the University of Chicago, died July 17, 2017.

Halcyon photo of Gordon Mochel '50

Gordon Mochel '50

Gordon Mochel '50, who went on to earn a master’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, died June 18, 2017.

A resident of Connecticut, he was the husband of Patricia Lackey Mochel ’50, the brother of the late John Mochel ’45, and the brother-in-law of the late Janet Bartleson Mochel ’43.

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photo of Robert Barbanell '52

Robert Barbanell '52

Robert Barbanell '52, a managing director of Bankers Trust who prided himself on being a devoted husband, father, stepfather, grandfather, brother, uncle, brother-in-law, and son, died Aug. 30, 2017.

After attending Swarthmore, he graduated from NYU and was much loved by family and friends for his intellectual curiosity, strong sense of values, and wry humor.

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Guy Brusca

Guy Brusca '52

Guy Brusca '52, a distinguished electrical engineer who earned a master’s in the subject from the University of Pennsylvania, died Sept. 10, 2017.

After serving in the U.S. Merchant Marine at the end of World War II, he earned his high school diploma before entering Swarthmore. Guy loved his family and friends dearly, and always enjoyed a good game of tennis.

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Mary Jane Winde Gentry

Mary Jane Winde Gentry '53

Mary Jane Winde Gentry '53, a loving force of nature who dedicated herself to building strong, supportive communities while inspiring her family and friends to do the same, died Oct. 4, 2017. 

An influential community volunteer who played key leadership roles in establishing The Vermont Children's Trust Foundation, launching the Champlain Valley High School Duo Program, and assisting in the transformation of Shelburne Farms into a nonprofit educational organization, Mary Jane adored tennis and spending time with her family.

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Elizabeth Wilkins McMaster

Elizabeth Wilkins McMaster '53

Elizabeth Wilkins McMaster '53, who earned a master’s in social work from Columbia University and built a lengthy career helping others, died Aug. 21, 2017.

A Francophile whose husband described her as a “7-star cook,” Betsy was a longtime pillar of a Providence, R.I., women's debating society, the Shakespeare Society, and a book group. She was renowned for her quiet optimism, determination, compassion, and strength.

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Barbara Turlington

Barbara Turlington '53

Barbara Turlington '53, an advocate for international education and empowerment of seniors as well as a lover of flowers and gardens, books and Beethoven, animals and people, died Sept. 3, 2017.

She completed her bachelor’s at American University of Beirut, Lebanon, and built an impressive career that included serving as director of international education at the American Council on Education as well as on the board of directors of Alliance International Educational and Cultural Exchange.

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Robert Merin

Robert Merin '54

Robert Merin '54, an Army veteran who became a globally respected, field-leading anesthesiologist, died Aug. 27, 2017.

President of the Association of University Anesthesiologists from 1987 to 1988, he retired to South Carolina, where he enjoyed tennis, golf, boating, and scuba diving as well as church and volunteer work.

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Halcyon photo of Sarah Curtis Lichtenstein '55

Sarah Curtis Lichtenstein '55

Sarah Curtis Lichtenstein '55, a powerhouse psychologist in the field of decision research and the inaugural president of Eugene, Ore.’s Human Rights Commission on Women, died Aug. 31, 2017. 

One of the key figures in establishing her field—which fundamentally shifted economics and psychology—Sarah also had a passion for math and music as well as an exceptional capacity for empathy, wit, and analysis.

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Halcyon photo of Sheila Brown Bishop '57

Sheila Brown Bishop '57

Sheila Brown Bishop '57, who taught physics at Youngstown State University, died Aug. 30, 2017.

One-half of a Matchbox couple, she was married to Edwin Bishop ’58 and enjoyed reading, needlework, and gardening.

Felicia Forsythe Humer '57

Felicia Forsythe Humer '57, a retired social worker and birthright Quaker, died Oct. 23, 2017.

A devoted mother and grandmother, Felicia was an accomplished pianist—having played by ear at age 4—and enjoyed singing in a number of chorus groups. She was also passionate about serving those in need and volunteered her time at food pantries, as a tutor, and at her local YMCA.

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Leonard Willinger Jr. '58

Leonard Willinger Jr. '58, a devout associate pastor who served Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., died March 10, 2017.

He left Swarthmore after a year and found his direction when he converted to fundamentalism in 1959. After completing his education at Christian institutions and devoting his life to religious service, he frequently corresponded with the College on matters of faith.

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Virgil McKenna M’59

Virgil McKenna M’59, a popular, award-winning psychology professor emeritus at—and undergraduate alumnus of—the College of William and Mary, died Aug. 2, 2017.

An ardent admirer of horses and wire fox terriers, he passionately followed College of William and Mary news and sports, drawing pride in its past as well as its future.

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Halcyon photo of Martha Merrill Pickrell '60

Martha Merrill Pickrell '60

Martha Merrill Pickrell '60, who eventually earned her bachelor’s in history from Indiana University South Bend in 1970 and worked as an archivist, writer, and editor, died Sept. 20, 2017. 

A prolific but unpublished poet who enjoyed writing and recording her self-penned music, Martha was a vigorous walker, a voracious reader, a low-key cook, and a grateful, giving friend to many.

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Paul Rothman

Paul Rothman '62

Paul Rothman '62, the owner and publisher of Fred B. Rothman Law Books as well as a beloved husband, father, and grandfather, died in October 2017.

Although he treasured the experience of growing up in a large, loving family in New York, Paul decided at age 13 that his dream was to move to Colorado, and he built a beautiful life there, drawing immense pleasure from skiing, hiking, and enjoying the mountains.

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David Bartlett

David Bartlett ’63

David Bartlett ’63, a beloved pastor, professor, and pillar of the Yale community—among others—died Oct. 12.

The author or editor of nearly 20 books and 50 articles, David served churches as well as schools and applied everything he learned to enhancing the work of parish ministry.

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Linda LaMacchia '65

Linda LaMacchia '65, a teacher and researcher, died July 31, 2017.

Beloved by her large family, Linda is also remembered as the author of Songs and Lives of the Jomo, about Tibetan Buddhist nuns living in northern India.

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photo of Judith Walenta '66

Judith Walenta '66

Judith Walenta '66, a gifted and accomplished nurse practitioner and healer who went above and beyond to improve the health and lives of her patients, died Sept. 2, 2017.

In addition to her Swarthmore bachelor’s, she held degrees from Stony Brook University and New York University and completed training as a family nurse practitioner at Community General Hospital in Syracuse, N.Y.; she was loved by many.

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Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter '66

Ann Coulter '66, who worked as an inner-city social worker in Washington, D.C. and was the director of volunteer services at Frankford Hospital in Philadelphia, died Sept. 20, 2017.

Active in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, Ann volunteered in retirement for the League of Women Voters of Jefferson County, W.Va., and the Eastern Panhandle Single Payer Action Network, a group founded to advocate for Medicare for All.

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Jill Hays

Jill Hays '67

Jill Hays '67, a seasoned traveler, prolific writer/editor, and accomplished poet with an enviable rare-book collection, died Sept. 4, 2017. 

A lifelong learner who loved exploring different cultures, Jill spoke several languages, including Irish, French, and Japanese, and selflessly arranged to have her body donated to the University of Vermont for medical research.

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Eric Brown

Eric Brown '67

Eric Brown '67, who learned six languages and loved running his own management consulting business for more than 30 years, died Aug. 28, 2017.

Passionate about international travel, bicycling, and his family, Eric made friends wherever he went—his ability to find something in common with anyone made him unforgettable to so many.

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Mary "Molly" Wood '74

Mary Wood '74, who was born and raised in Swarthmore and later became a respected paralegal, died July 15, 2017.

As comfortable working on complex transactions for high-powered clients as she was at home with her beloved English sheepdog Tess, border terriers Lucy and Jake, and her standard poodle RosyLou, Molly read extensively and delighted in the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle.

Helene Abramowitz

Helene Abramowitz '77

Helene Abramowitz '77, a freelance proofreader and medical editor who also attended law school, died June 23, 2017.

Remembered for her sense of humor, Helene volunteered with New York Cares, coaching job seekers through interview prep, supporting the city's library projects, and securing clothing for impoverished children.
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photo of Elizabeth Singreen Racina '04

Elizabeth Singreen Racina '04

Elizabeth Singreen Racina '04, who transferred from Swarthmore to Tulane University and then conducted postgraduate studies in France, died May 10, 2016.

Fiercely loyal, a devout Catholic, a lover of the arts and French language, a writer, painter, poet, and creator of many things, Liz married and had a baby daughter, Olivia, in 2015 and cherished her family.

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