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Winter 2001

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On Campus



Alumni Affairs
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Class Notes



In Memoriam



Florence Mills Jennings ’31 of Washington, NJ, died on September 20, 2000. A secretarial science major, Florence became a dedicated alumna volunteer. She served as class president, class agent, and reunion fund chair. She was active in civic associations and enjoyed church activities. Florence is survived by a son and three daughters.

Virginia Whitenack Will ’31 of Gulf Breeze, FL, died on September 22, 2000. She earned her Skidmore degree in physical education. Husband Alan predeceased her; she has no known survivors.

Francis Barkley Starbuck ’32 of Chestertown, NY, died on August 30, 2000. A home economics major, she was awarded a Lucy Scribner Scholarship her freshman year. Francis joined her classmates for their 50th reunion in 1982. Francis was an active volunteer in her church guild and local Parent Teacher Association. She is survived by husband Samuel, and two sons.

Marion Shipp Van Nest ’32 of Plymouth, MA, died on July 21, 2000. A secretarial science major, Marion was a staff writer for the Skidmore News. She subsequently held numerous alumni volunteer positions, including class president, class agent, and president of the New Jersey alumni club. Marion also served as head of the East Orange, NJ, board of elections and area Red Cross chairperson. She is survived by a daughter and several grandchildren; husband Gilbert predeceased her.

Adelma Armstrong Essertier ’37 of Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, died on August 31, 2000. She was a physical education major. Following graduation, Del kept in close touch with class secretary Agnes Dunn Mackenzie, to whom she sent letters describing her numerous trips throughout Europe and the U.S. over the years. A dedicated civic volunteer, Del served as program chair for the Ridgewood, NJ, Woman’s Club and president of an area hospital auxiliary. She is survived by two daughters, five grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren.

Barbara Roth Gordon ’44 of Carlisle, PA, died on September 9, 2000. A physical education major, Bobbie taught for several years before becoming a program director for the YMCA, where, among other initiatives, she organized and accompanied the Sound of America youth band and chorus on an overseas tour in 1992. Bobby served as chair of her 45th reunion. She was active in the Carlisle Race Relations Workshop and Sweet Adelines chorus. She enjoyed golf, bowling and church fellowship. She is survived by a son and a daughter; husband William predeceased her in 1988.

Mary Ann Hazelton Crosbie ’46 of Tarrytown, NY, died on September 16, 2000. An art major, Mary Ann worked as an graphic artist for the Houghton Mifflin Publishing Company in Boston following graduation. She most recently taught graphic arts at Tarrytown High School. Mary Ann is survived by husband William, six daughters, sister Natalie Hazelton Mata ’51, two brothers, and 15 grandchildren.

Deborah Slade ’53 of Mount Pleasant, MI, died on September 20, 2000. A physical education major, Deborah went on to attain master’s and doctoral degrees in education from Syracuse University. She became assistant dean of women students at Syracuse early in her career and served as assistant vice provost at Central Michigan University until her retirement in 1998. Deborah enjoyed membership in Zonta, the League of Women Voters, and numerous academic associations. She is survived by sister Jane Slade Prince ’46, two nephews, and one niece.

Janet Holden Hathaway ’55 of West Chatham, MA, died September 9, 2000. A physical education major, Janet served as house counselor and member of student legislative council while attending Skidmore. She went on to graduate with a certificate in physical therapy from Simmons College in Boston, MA. Janet was employed as a medical technologist for a physician’s practice in Needham, MA. An alumna volunteer, she acted as class secretary from 1958 to 1960. She enjoyed sailing, tennis, and music. Janet is survived by a daughter, two sons, and sister Barbara Holden Moulton ’53.

Jane Larson Larson ’56 of Lyme, NH, died on July 12, 2000. A business major, Jane was involved in the Big Sister program at Skidmore. Following graduation, she was employed by engineering and banking companies, and managed an interior design firm in Mystic, CT. She is survived by husband Carl, two sons, and a daughter.

Mildred Winans Thomas ’57 of Stillwater, NY, died on September 26, 2000. An English major, Mildred taught English and elementary music in Schuylerville, NY. She was a board member of the Quaker Springs Methodist Church, where she served on numerous committees and directed the junior choir. Mildred served for over twenty years as a 4-H leader and was president of the Adirondack Choral Society. She is survived by husband Melvin, one daughter, four sons including William Thomas ’77 and Richard Thomas ’80, and 12 grandchildren.

Linda LaBarba Harris-Seares ’69 of Brattleboro, VT, died on March 31, 2000, of cancer. After leaving Skidmore, she earned a master’s degree from Columbia University in 1971 and a Ph.D. from NYU in 1993. She was an instructor of English at NYU’s expository writing program and later director of communications at the Putney School in Vermont. She was a member of the Modern Language Association and National Council of Teachers of English. She is survived by husband Peter and a stepdaughter.

Carolyn Marcus ’69 of Cazenovia, New York, died on March 1, 2000. She had earned an M.B.A. from Babson College and was manager of executive information systems development for Agway Data Services, a subsidiary of Agway, Inc. She is survived by a brother.

Deborah Weil Goldfarb ’69 of Avon, CT, died on November 27, 2000. An elementary education major, she was involved in the Big Brother-Big Sister program and served as a house counselor. Following graduation, Deborah married and raised three children. She was an active volunteer in numerous civic and religious associations, including service as board member of the Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation, for which she received an Outstanding Member Award. She chaired the Avon Youth Activities Council and founded the Avon Youth Employment Project. Deborah was named Avon Citizen of the Year in 1989. A dedicated alumna, she established the Goldfarb Family Scholarship Fund for Skidmore students during the early eighties. She is survived by husband William, two daughters and a son, and two brothers and a sister.

Deborah Bagg Gee ’72 of Houston, TX, died on September 29, 2000. A history and Spanish major, Deborah spent her junior year at the University of Madrid. She earned a degree in international law from Suffolk College of Law in Boston and a master of law degree from Columbia University, where she participated in study at the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands. Deborah clerked for U.S. Court of Appeals Judges William Sessions and Thomas Gibbs Gee, whom she later married. She was an advocate for the rights of Hispanic immigrants and was writing a book on birds of the Galapagos Islands. She is survived by her mother, a brother, and three nephews; her husband predeceased her.

Kathleen Thompson Greco ’73 of Amsterdam, NY, died on September 22, 2000. A physical education major, Kathleen worked as a bookkeeper and administrative assistant for an accounting firm. She is survived by two sons, seven brothers, six sisters, one grandson, and several nieces and nephews.

Cheryl Beckles ’76 of Jamesburg, NJ, died August 28, 2000. A physical education major, she earned a master’s from the New School for Social Research in 1985 and worked as director of complex litigation for American International Group in New York City. Cheryl was a longtime alumni volunteer, serving on the nominating committee of the alumni board, alumni committee on minority affairs, and the alumni multicultural network. Cheryl’s numerous contributions to Skidmore included organizing several minority reunions, and helping to recruit and mentor minority students. She was also active in professional associations and an avid, award-winning quilter. She is survived by a brother.

Sarah O’Reilly ’79 of Utica, NY, died on July 17, 2000. An English major, Sarah went on to work as a photo researcher and art editor for Houghton Mifflin in Boston, where she was responsible for the illustration of the American Heritage Dictionary. She continued her publishing career at the New York City firm of Booze Allen Hamilton. An active alumna, Sarah served as a class agent and fund committee member. She also frequently volunteered for Boston area alumni phonations, and assisted in recruitment and advisement. She is survived by her mother, three sisters including Mary O’ Reilly Leffel ’81, four nieces, and one nephew


Otto Plaug of Greenfield Center, NY, died October 13, 2000, at the age of 102. A painter by profession who was well known to Skidmore art students, he last exhibited his work in 1999. Plaug worked as a language assistant at Skidmore in the modern language department from 1962 to 1969. A native of Dessau, Germany, he emigrated to the United States with his parents when he was a child in the early 1900s, yet he spoke excellent German and was well acquainted with German culture. At his 102nd birthday party, he recited in German from Faust and sang a Goethe song in two verses.

Plaug’s wife predeceased him, but he is survived by many close friends including professors Helga Doblin and Stuart Witt.

Rudolf Sturm, professor emeritus of Slavic languages, died on November 27, 2000, at the age of 88. He resided in Saratoga Springs.

Sturm joined the Skidmore faculty in 1958 and retired in 1982. Fluent in six languages, he taught Italian and Slavic languages, literature, history, and culture. He founded the Skidmore Employees Federal Credit Union and served the American Association of University Professors in several capacities. His tenure in the academic world was only part of a varied and distinguished career that embraced letters, diplomacy, and civic affairs.

Born April 15, 1912, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Sturm was drawn into world affairs as a young man. In 1936, he was sent to Brussels, Geneva, and Paris as a Czechoslovak delegate in a European movement attempting to preserve peace. He fled his homeland in 1939, joining the Czechoslovak government-in-exile in Paris. In 1941, the Nazi invasion forced him to flee again, this time to the United States. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and served in the North African and Italian campaigns. After liberation in 1945, he returned to join the government in Czechoslovakia, but with the communist takeover he was again forced to leave in 1948. He returned to the U.S. and worked for Radio Free Europe.

Having earned his absolutorium (master’s degree) in law and political science from Charles University in Prague in 1937, he earned his Ph.D. in Slavic languages and literature from Harvard University in 1956. He taught at Boston College, Yale University, the City College of New York, and Hershey Junior College in addition to Skidmore. A frequent lecturer and contributor to professional journals, he authored and co-authored several books on Slavic countries and cultures, including a bibliographic guide to Czechoslovakia published by the Library of Congress.

Sturm was active in the Modern Language Association and the Czechoslovakian Society of Arts and Science in America. As a member of the national executive committee of American Professors for Peace in the Middle East during 1968-75, he traveled to Arab states and Israel to confer with government and intellectual leaders. A Roman Catholic, he was honored by State of Israel Bonds and received its 1984 Tower of David Award. He lectured frequently on Israel and the diaspora. Upon retiring from Skidmore, Sturm remained active in civic affairs and professional organizations.

Survivors include his wife, Marie Neumann Sturm; daughters Lydia Sturm Castle ’64 and Toni Sturm ’80; son Rudolph; a sister in the Czech Republic; two grandsons; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Memorial donations may be made to the Church of St. Peter, 241 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. A memorial service was held on campus in December.


© 2001 Skidmore College