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Vol. LXV, No. 47
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Margaret “Meg” Fels, 70, died November 12 after suffering from a heart attack while biking.
Vivacious, kind, generous, and just, she will be remembered by many as the person to whom they turned when a family member was ill or sick, who helped them discover living again after a cancer diagnosis, or who shared her zeal for yoga, zumba, tai chi, meditation, opera, choral music, or healthy eating. She never saw an ocean too cold to swim in or a grandchild too spoiled for another present. For over three decades, she sang in Princeton Pro Musica and could often be located in a crowded store by her persistent humming, generally of choral masterworks.
Her warmth and joy was coupled with acuity in math and science. A graduate of Wellesly College, she was a Hertz Foundation Fellow. In 1963, she became the first woman admitted to “Teller Tech,” Edward Teller’s Applied Science graduate program and the University of California, where she received her Ph.D.
As much as she loved atomic physics, she fought to avoid work that supported nuclear weapons and their development. She pursued theoretical physics and found her way into the nascent field of energy conservation in the 1970s. She was recruited first to Princeton’s Center for Energy and Environmental Studies (CEES), and then briefly joined Princeton’s engineering school faculty. As its first female faculty member, she is often credited by colleagues for suggesting the school convert one of its men’s rooms to a women’s bathroom. After three years, she resigned her faculty position to focus on research, harnessing computers’ growing power to statistically model and analyze energy use and conservation. A past board member of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), she provided important leadership in the development of energy efficiency program evaluation. She created PRISM, the Princeton Scorekeeping Method, which has been the national standard-bearer in energy efficiency scoring for over a decade. Colleagues credit her work with dramatic decreases in carbon emissions via increased building efficiency and improved transportation manufacturing and operations.
She concluded her career at Princeton by leading programs that build elementary school teachers’ competence and confidence in teaching math and science and by creating pathways for Princeton undergraduates to get involved in teaching.
Many who knew her didn’t know of her professional accomplishments, nor of the trail she blazed for women. To many, she was the woman who beat back cancer, defying all odds, for over a decade. When an earlier diagnosis of breast cancer returned as metastasis in 2002, her life briefly revolved around cancer, and then came to focus on living proudly and productively, with grace, humor, and a splash of silliness. She found healing and provided inspiration to many others through the Princeton YWCA’s Breast Cancer Resource Center and as a volunteer counselor with the national Cancer Hope Network.
She was predeceased by her husband, Stephen, in 1989; and is survived by her husband, Bill Slack; her children, Katya and Nicholas; her step-daughter, Babiche Slack; and three grandchildren.
A commemorative service will be held in spring 2012.
You can celebrate Meg by helping a child see the joy in science and math, encouraging a girl to be whatever she wants to be, kayaking or walking, or reveling in an extraordinary piece of music.
Memorial contributions can be sent to the Breast Cancer Resource Center, www.bcrcnj.org; or Princeton Pro Musica, www.princetonpromusica.org.
Margaret K. Smagorinsky, 95, died November 14 in Hillsborough of natural causes.
Born on December 23, 1915 in Brooklyn, N.Y., she was the second of four daughters of Anne and George Knoepfel.
She attended Bay Ridge High School in Brooklyn and graduated from Brooklyn College while still a teenager. She was the first member of her family to attend college.
Following college, she taught in a one-room schoolhouse in Ashland, N.Y. for four years, and then moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked for the Railroad Retirement Board as a statistician and then as the first woman statistician hired by the Weather Bureau.
After being sent to New York University for additional coursework, she met Joseph Smagorinsky in a graduate course. They married on May 29, 1948.
She was a member of the team that programmed the ENIAC computer at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where her husband worked as a meteorologist on the same project. The couple had five children: Anne, Peter, Teresa, Julia, and Frederick, to whom she dedicated her life. The family lived in Alexandria, Va. from 1953-1968, before moving to Princeton.
Her life in Princeton involved a long association with the Princeton University League, for which she served as president among other roles. She wrote several pamphlets featuring traditions at Princeton University, including The Regalia of Princeton University, Some Legends & Lore of Princeton University, and The Tigers of Princeton University, which remain available in the Princeton Public Library, in online versions, and through online vendors. Her interest in Princeton University extended to leading tours of the gargoyles on campus buildings, as well as her annual support of the university’s football and basketball programs.
She was also famous for planning and orchestrating elaborate car rallies that required participants to drive around central New Jersey, following a series of clever poetic clues hidden in obscure locations that led back to her residence where a celebratory party ensued. Among her creative endeavors were her abilities at restoring furniture bought at auctions and making gravestone rubbings, several of which are still on display.
Predeceased by her husband, Joseph, in 2005, she is survived by her five children and eight grandchildren.
She is buried in Princeton Cemetery along with her husband.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Organization for Autism Research, 2000 N. Fourteenth Street, Suite 710, Arlington, Va. 22201.
Arrangements were by The Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton.
Margaret “Peg” Eaton Taplin, 97, died November 16.
She grew up in Cleveland with her parents, Joseph Oriel Eaton and Edith Ide Eaton, and her seven siblings. In 1937 she married Herbert Sichel of London. She and Herb were often separated by war, eventually settling in London where they lived until his death in 1949. Throughout her life she kept a strong connection to Herb’s family and a love for England.
In 1953 she married Frank E. Taplin Jr. and moved back to Cleveland. Together they moved to Princeton in 1957 and in 1964 they bought a house in Vermont, where they spent much of their time. Married for more than 50 years, their life together was filled with music, art, family, and friends. Her compassion and generosity extended beyond those she knew to help many others through her involvement with charitable organizations. After her husband’s death in 2003, she moved to Vermont permanently.
The heart of her family, she was a warm and generous person whose kindness and grace was a blessing to others. To be in her company was to be reminded of the joy in living, from counting the petals on the tiniest flower, to musing about the mysteries of outer space. She believed in the importance of a sense of humor and laughed easily and often, bringing lightness to those around her.
Her deep love of nature was well nourished at her home in Vermont, where she never ceased to be moved by the turning of each season. She could be seen painstakingly rescuing a fruit fly from a drop of water on the kitchen counter, or passing a perfect leaf around the table to be admired by others. A profoundly spiritual person, she was amazed and humbled by the beauty of the world around her, and her enormous gratitude for life is a gift she leaves to her loved ones.
She greeted those she met with interest and curiosity. She saw the best in everyone, embracing each person with gentle kindness and deep compassion. Throughout her life, she actively challenged intolerance, and was guided by principles of equality and inclusiveness. As her sister Anne said, “She was the best person I ever knew.”
Predeceased by her infant daughter, Margaret Sichel; her first husband, Herbert Sichel; and her second husband, Frank Taplin; she is survived by her sisters, Martha Hickox and Anne Eaton Parker; three daughters, Jennifer Dickerman, Marty Kelly, and Susan Sichel; her stepchildren, Caroline T. Ruschell, Jennifer T. Jerome, and David Taplin; 12 grandchildren; and 10 great grandchildren.
In accordance with her wishes, there will be no service.
To honor her memory, donations may be made to any of the following: Isles, Inc., 10 Wood Street, Trenton, N.J. 08618; Third Street Music School Settlement, 235 East 11th Street, New York, N.Y. 10003; United Way of Windham County, 28 Vernon Street, Suite 312, Brattleboro, Vt. 05301; or the charity of your choice.
Lois Montgomery Dowey, of Princeton, died November 11, 2011 after a two-year battle with cancer.
Born in Parma, Idaho on September 25, 1925, she was the daughter of a Presbyterian minister and a Welsh immigrant teacher. She lived in Portland, Ore., where her father proved up on a homestead.
She graduated from Madera High School in Madera, Calif. and from Occidental College before moving to New York City where she obtained a Masters in philosophy from Columbia University.
In 1954 she married Edward Dowey in New York. They lived in Chicago for two years before moving to Princeton in 1957 when Edward started a long career at Princeton Theological Seminary. Lois raised two children, Edward (Ted) and Elizabeth.
In 1965 she started teaching middle school history and English at Princeton Day School. She was active in securing equal pay for women teachers. In the 1980s she taught at the Cathedral School of St. John the Divine in Manhattan and at Literacy Volunteers in New York.
She went back to school and received a Masters in African Studies from Rutgers in conjunction with the University of Ghana, Legon. She traveled to Ghana for a semester to study. Later, she established support for a series of students there, allowing them to continue with their education.
She was committed to helping less fortunate people in her community; especially by encouraging young people to complete their educations. She developed after-school programs in Trenton. For some students, she continued to provide financial and moral support through higher education.
Over the years, she traveled extensively in Central America, Africa, and Asia, including a trip along the Silk Road from China into India, and catching a glimpse of Everest from a plane.
She established the L. Dowey Fund, which serves to help finance the education of students in Ghana and in Trenton, fulfilling her lifetime of devotion to advancing the education of those less fortunate.
A memorial service will be held in December.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be mailed to the L Dowey Fund at 1 Markham Road, #1D, Princeton, N.J. 08540. Arrangements are under the direction of The Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 17th at 1 p.m. at the Mountain Lakes House, 57 Mountain Ave. Princeton. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be mailed to the L. Dowey Fund at: 1 Markham Rd #1D, Princeton.
Lois is survived by her two children, four grandchildren and a sister, Reba Clemens of Hillsboro, Ore.
Arrangements are under the direction of The Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton.
William “Bill” M. Smith, 89, died November 16 at the home of his daughter.
Born in Natick, Mass. on June 15, 1922, he lived for a long time in Southborough, Mass. before moving to Stoughton, Mass., and then to Princeton. He made many good friends over the years and he was a consummate family man.
From 1942-1946, he served in the U.S. Navy as a communications specialist aboard the USS Buckley. He transferred his acquired skills into a long career with the New England Telephone Company. While working to support his robust family, he earned a Bachelor’s degree from Boston College to satisfy his respect for and penchant for learning. After “retiring”, he stayed active by working as an assistant at construction sites, by walking several miles each day, and by working on home repair and construction projects.
He was very widely read and enjoyed many genres. He could almost not stop reading. In his lifetime he covered nearly a library’s worth of books.
He loved the simple things and led an honest, straightforward life in which he enjoyed and appreciated hard work, a good book and a long walk, and the large cadre of people he had long known. A generous man with a bright outlook, a hearty laugh, with always a good word or story to be told, he will be missed.
Those who have been a part of his past include 11 siblings, Leonard, James, Dorothy, Mildred, Mary, Robert, Alfred, John, Richard, Jean, and Brenda; his wife of nearly 60 years, Alberta; his children, William, Mark, Julia, Marie, and John; 11 grandchildren; and 4 great grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the MicMac Benevolent Society, www.ncns.ca.
He will be cremated.
A memorial gathering will be held at noon on Saturday, November 26, at St. Matthews parish hall, 105 Southville Road, Southborough, Mass. Please join us there for music, food, and memories.
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