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Alberta Feynman

Alberta Feynman

April 3, 2012

Alberta Lee Feynman, professor emerita of English with teaching specialties in Shakespeare and the dramatic arts, died March 14, 2012, in Saddle Brook, N.J. She was 91.

A native of Kingston, N.Y., Alberta was raised in Beacon and graduated from Beacon High School. She earned an A.B. degree at the New York State College for Teachers at Albany in 1942 and began teaching immediately.

She interrupted her career to enlist in the U.S. Navy’s WAVES during World War II, serving from 1944 to 1946. She was discharged with the rank of lieutenant j.g. and remained in the Naval reserves until 1954.

Alberta returned to school following military service and earned both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at Columbia University, attending with the support of the GI Bill. 

In 1954 she joined the faculty at Skidmore, and over the years she taught courses in Shakespeare and modern drama. She published articles and essays on Shakespeare, drama, and the teaching of English. She was promoted to professor in 1966.

On March 9, 1958, Alberta married Dr. Jacob Feynman (now deceased).

In addition to a number of scholarly articles, Alberta wrote three books: Touring on Two Wheels, in which she shared stories of her cycling travels through England and Europe; Random Recollections; and Letters to a Sister, which featured letters from her brother Alan to her.

Robert “Bud” Foulke, professor emeritus of English and former department chair, remembered that Alberta brought a lot of her life experiences to her students. “She was an adventurous person, and this sense of adventure continued through her middle years. She lived and worked in Europe, which made sense for a Shakespearean scholar. She biked through Europe and wrote about it. She shared so many of these experiences with her students and had a great following among them.”

Upon her retirement in 1976, then-President Joseph C. Palamountain said to Alberta, “In the very best sense, you have been the ideal of a Skidmore faculty member.” He added, “You have brought to your classroom that combination of scholarly knowledge and natural enthusiasm which has made you a favorite Skidmore teacher for all of your long career here.”

Alberta had a passion for history. Following her retirement, she led carriage tours through Saratoga Battlefield and volunteered as a docent at Grant Cottage in Wilton.

Jean Reed of Saratoga Springs was caregiver for Alberta for about a dozen years. She often took her for rides to historic sites locally and throughout New York State. She said, “I have a 2005 Honda with about 100,000 miles on it. For at least 70,000 of those miles, Alberta was in the car.” Alberta “learned and taught every day of her life,” said Jean.

Alberta’s survivors include her adopted stepson, James Feynman, two granddaughters, two great-grandchildren, two nephews, two nieces, grandnieces and grandnephews, and great-grandnephews.

Alberta was interred with military honors in the Saratoga National Cemetery.

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