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Obituaries 12/19/12

Albert O. Hirschman

Renowned social scientist Albert O. Hirschman, whose highly influential work in economics and politics in developing countries has had a profound impact on economic thought and practice in the United States and beyond, died at the age of 97 on December 10 at Greenwood House in Ewing Township. Hirschman was professor emeritus in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, where he had served on the faculty since 1974.

“Albert Hirschman developed innovative methods for promoting economic and social growth through his study of the intellectual underpinnings of economic policies and political democracy,” said Robbert Dijkgraaf, director and Leon Levy professor at the Institute. “An impassioned observer who sought to understand the world as well as change it, Albert will be sorely missed by the Institute community and by the international community at large where his voice has influenced and guided advancement for more than half a century.”

Born in Berlin on April 7, 1915, Hirschman left Germany in 1933 for France, where he studied economics, finance, and accounting. In 1935, he received a one-year fellowship at the London School of Economics. From London he went to Barcelona to fight in the Spanish Civil War, saying, “I could not just sit and look on without doing anything.”

He completed his studies in Italy at the University of Trieste, where he received a doctorate in economics in 1938. Racial laws enacted by Mussolini compelled Hirschman to return to Paris, where he produced his first economic writings and reports, marking the beginning of a prolific publication record. In his numerous books and articles since that time, he continued to explore the complex relationships between economics, politics, social structures, values, and behavior.

Hirschman volunteered for service in the French Army and was enlisted in 1939. With the collapse of the French Army in 1940, he fled to the south of France. There he met Varian Fry, an American who had come to Marseille to organize a rescue operation to try to save the lives of endangered refugees, including Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, André Breton, and Marcel Duchamp. Fry needed a close assistant, and he found one in Hirschman, whom Fry dubbed “Beamish” for his unfailing optimism during this especially dark and dangerous time …. By the time the operation closed down in September 1941, when the French expelled Varian Fry, his group had helped some 2,000 people escape from France. The United States government recognized the Varian Fry group in 1991 for its heroic accomplishments.

Hirschman immigrated to the United States in 1941 with the help of a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley, he met and married Sarah Chapro, a fellow European émigré who was earning her master’s degree in French literature. In March 1943, Hirschman enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to North Africa and Italy as part of the Office of Strategic Services and served as an interpreter for a German general in one of the earliest World War II criminal trials. With the war’s end, the Hirschmans settled in Washington, where Albert worked for the Federal Reserve Board on European reconstruction, focusing on new initiatives within the Marshall Plan agency.

In 1952, they moved to South America, where Hirschman worked as an economic adviser to the country of Colombia. The subsequent four years there inspired his vision of economic development as a sequential and unbalanced process ….

Hirschman returned to the United States in 1956 and began his academic career, which included positions at Yale, Columbia, and Harvard Universities. In 1974, he became a professor at the Institute, where he joined Clifford Geertz in creating the School of Social Science. He became professor emeritus in 1985. It was at the Institute that he and Professor Geertz created a unique forum for the social sciences. In seeking to bridge the divides between increasingly professionalized disciplines, they favored a more “interpretive style,” a term which eventually acquired multiple meanings — not all of them consistent with Hirschman and Geertz’s original purpose to explore the interaction between culture, politics, and economics.

“There is no doubt,” says Jeremy Adelman, Princeton University historian and author of a forthcoming biography of Hirschman, “that Hirschman’s time at the Institute allowed him to become one of the great sages of our times. His unusual background, combination of intellectual traditions and ironic disposition were combined to yield some of the classic works of the social sciences.”

Hirschman was widely recognized for his work and was the recipient of many prizes and honors, including the Talcott Parsons Prize for Social Science, presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1983; the Kalman H. Silvert Award of the Latin American Studies Association in 1986; the Toynbee Prize in 1997; the Thomas Jefferson Medal of the American Philosophical Society in 1998; and the Benjamin E. Lippincott Award of the American Political Science Association in 2003. In 2007, the Social Science Research Council established an annual prize in Hirschman’s honor. The Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University selected Hirschman as a recipient of the 2013 Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought for his critical role in crossing disciplines to forge new theories and policies to promote international development. In honor of Hirschman’s exceptional contributions to economic thought, the Institute created the Albert O. Hirschman professorship in the School of Social Science in 1998.

Hirschman is survived by his daughter, Katia Salomon of Paris; two sons-in-law, Alain Salomon and Peter Gourevitch; four grandchildren, Lara Salomon Pawlicz, Grégoire Salomon and Alex and Nick Hirschman Gourevitch; nine great grandchildren, Hannah, Rebecca, Isaac, Eva, Rachel, Olivia, Ezra, Theodore, and Zackary; and a sister, Eva Monteforte of Rome. He was predeceased by a daughter, Lisa Hirschman Gourevitch, in 1999, and by his wife of 70 years, Sarah Hirschman, founder of People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos, in January of 2012.

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Gertrude Neelen

Gertrude Neelen was born on October 6, 1925 and died on February 23, 2012 at the age of 86. As a celebration of her life, and as a remembrance of this wonderful woman, we publish her obituary here for the first time.

Born and raised in Hoboken, New Jersey, both Trudie (as everyone knew her) and her brother George were avid fans and participants in the Hoboken soccer league where Trudie served as a long-time member of the Ladies Auxiliary. As a young girl, Trudie was a member of the Grace Reformed Church in Hoboken and remained inspired by and faithful to her religious beliefs throughout her life. Choosing a career in “service” as she teemed it, Trudie put her perfectionist tendencies to work as a housekeeper in various illustrious households along the Eastern seaboard, including the Rockefellers.

Finally settling in Princeton, New Jersey, Trudie lived as a longtime resident of Princeton Community Village where she was known for her love of animals and plants, exhibiting a tender and inspired way with all of the animals she rescued and the multitude of plants that bloomed, exuberantly under her watch. A shy, gentle woman, Trudy will be remembered for her generous spirit, which was manifested through her continuous lifelong support of animal organizations throughout the United States. Trudie will also be remembered for the characteristic devotion she exhibited towards her friends, her own animals, and the greenery, which always surrounded her.

Trudie is missed by her friends, her longtime animal companions, Holly and Tessie, and her family, with whom she reunited after a long absence in the final brave days of her life. Trudie is survived by her brother George and his wife, Mildred of Belvidere, New Jersey, and their three children Janet, Barbara, and George II.

In honor of Trudie, all those who knew her are encouraged to give to an animal or wildlife organization of their choice. The Mercer County Wildlife Center is a local organization that is always in need of support and supplies.

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Genevieve Somers Gorman

Genevieve Somers Gorman died Tuesday, December 11, 2012, following a long and courageous battle with cancer. She died at home in Princeton surrounded by family who love and miss her very much.

Gen was born on February 21, 1934 in Newark, New Jersey to Dr. James F. and Helen W. Somers. She was raised in South Orange, New Jersey and Peru, Vermont where she developed a life-long love of nature and the outdoors.

Following graduation with a BS degree from St. Mary of the Woods College in Terre Haute, Indiana, Gen worked for New Jersey’s Public Service Electric and Gas Company where she conducted televised cooking classes intended to educate women on nutrition and cooking. This was the first of many professional and volunteer efforts devoted to helping those less advantaged improve their lives primarily through education and nutrition.

While raising her children, Gen served as chairman of the combined Junior Leagues of New Jersey’s Legislative Task Force, successfully lobbying for legislation to protect the state’s neglected and abused children, and as president of the Association of the North Princeton Development Center, a 600 member volunteer organization dedicated to raising funds and developing programs for the Center’s mentally handicapped clients.

Between 1984 and 1993, Gen worked at the Katherine Gibbs School of New Jersey first as director of continuing education and later as director of placement. In 1993, she joined the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation in Princeton where she was director of the foundation’s Crisis Ministry Program providing grants to religious, community-based hunger relief programs across the country. While at the foundation, Gen developed an annual two day conference bringing together leaders of non-profit organizations involved in anti-hunger initiatives with the goal of sharing hunger solutions and fund raising policies. She also co-founded New Jersey’s Farmers Against Hunger Program, whose mission was to bring fresh produce to the hungry. As a result of her efforts, Gen was invited to serve on a panel advising the Clinton White House on hunger issues.

In the final years of her life, Gen was a member of the Advisory Board of Farmers Against Hunger, the Board of Princeton Pro Musica and The Present Day Club.

She is survived by her five children all of whom attended Princeton’s public schools: Kevin (Philadelphia); James (Philadelphia); Mary Singh (New York City); Robyn Savage (Boulder, Colorado); and, Sally Fitzhugh (Oakland, California). She is also survived by her daughter-in-law Megan Othersen Gorman, her sons-in-law Alok Singh, Michael Fitzhugh and Thomas Savage, eight grandchildren and her sisters Mary Moore (New York City) and Helen Somers Moses (Asheville, North Carolina). She was predeceased by her former husband, Robert P. Gorman, a grandson, Henry Gorman, and her two brothers, James and William Somers.

There will be a funeral mass and life celebration on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 11 a.m. at Aquinas House, 65 Stockton Street, Princeton, New Jersey. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Gen’s memory to HomeFront, Inc. an organization whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty for homeless families in Central New Jersey (1880 Princeton Avenue, Lawrenceville, New Jersey 08648). Memorial funds will be dedicated to HomeFront’s Healthy Food/Healthy Life Program, providing food and nutrition to vulnerable and homeless families.

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