May 15, 2013

Obituaries 5/15/13

5-15-13 Johnson ObitKristina Barbara Johnson

Kristina Barbara Johnson died peacefully on April 18, 2013 surrounded by family. She leaves behind her loving daughter, Jeniah “Kookie” Johnson, son-in-law, Tom Sheeran, grandchildren, Henry and Josie Sheeran, life partner, Robert Cannon, two brothers, Gottfried Eisenführ and Gunther Eisenführ, along with many adoring friends and her faithful giant African Leopard Tortoise, George.

Kristina was a lawyer, art collector, and lover of life and all that life had to offer. She lived large; her energy inextinguishable; an energy so powerful she would often silence a room upon entering, yet her warm charm and quick wit put anyone crossing her path at ease. Guided by her heart, she left an indelible mark on everyone she met. Her presence in this physical world will be greatly missed.

Born in Berlin, Germany, Kristina came to the United States as a student. A creative soul with a brilliant eye, she soon found her way into the art scenes of New York and Paris. After a short stint as a fashion model, she soon became an artists’ agent in the advertising industry. Versed in several languages, she engaged foreign artists — Raymond Savignac being one of her larger accounts. She also represented Andy Warhol during his career in fashion illustration, before he became a pop icon.

From cowboys to classic cars, Kristina was enthralled by anything quintessentially American. Inspired by visits to Nantucket, she became enthralled by the gritty romance of its history. She began collecting original whaling journals and the whaler’s folk art, scrimshaw. She went on to amass the largest private whaling collection in the world quickly becoming a leading historian in the field, founding the Whale Research Foundation in Princeton.

In the early 1980’s she sent her scrimshaw and whaling artifacts off to be auctioned in four, two-session sales at Sotheby’s and her manuscripts were sold in two sales at Swan Galleries. She donated her extensively indexed library to The San Francisco National Maritime Museum. However, her passion for American folk art continued as she amassed a nationally respected collection of 19th and 20th century paintings, sculptures, and textiles.

Kristina served on governance boards of several arts and cultural organizations including: the American Folk Art Museum; the South Street Seaport Museum, the National Maritime Society, the NJ Ballet Company, and the Arts Council of Princeton.

Her service to the American Folk Art Museum spanned over 40 years, during which time she curated several exhibitions, inaugurated an annual lecture series, and created a scholarship fund for the Folk Art Institute. She established and contributed to The Clarion, which evolved into one of the most respected scholarly journals in the field of folk art. She became board president in 1971.

Kristina authored, contributed to, or was featured in a multitude of publications including Art & Auction (where she was an associate editor); Arts & Antiques (where she was featured as one of America’s 100 Top Collectors for 3 consecutive years); Town & Country; Forbes; Money Magazine, Life Magazine, and Time-Life Publications. She was featured in nationally televised programs including Good Morning America.

She lectured nationally and internationally including at the Smithsonian; the Melville Society; Mystic Seaport; The NY and The NJ Historical Societies; Princeton University; New York University, and the American Museum in Bath, England. Kristina was nominated for Woman of the Year for the Arts at a bicentennial celebration sponsored by the Smithsonian in 1974.

Voluntary and paid consulting and curating positions (aside from The American Folk Art Museum) included The Metropolitan Museum; The Whitney Museum; American Association of Museums; New Bedford Whaling Museum; Time-Life Publications; The White House and Gracie Mansion. She was an advisor to the Ford Foundation, American Federation of the Arts, and the Nantucket Whaling Museum. She was most proud of her renowned hooked rug show, American Classics in Princeton.

Kristina was also a political advocate. Her close affiliations included: Senator Edward Kennedy; Governor Robert Meyner; Governor William Cahill; Mayor Edward Koch; Senator Bill Bradley; Senator Fred Thompson; Congressman Rush Holt, and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora. She attended two state dinners at the White House with President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty Ford. She was awarded the title of Colonial Aide de Camp by Ned McWherter, Governor, on behalf of the people of Tennessee.

Perhaps the accomplishment of which Kristina was most proud was becoming a lawyer in 1978. She authored several legal publications and applied herself to intellectual property where she could combine her love for art with her new found education. She also loved to collect and drive vintage American cars. Football, that all-American sport, was one of her many passions from attending Princeton games to rooting for her favorite team, the Buffalo Bills.

For the past 18 years the cultural advancement of Kristina’s two grandchildren became her primary focus. Spending more time at her Princeton home, she served on the Board of the Arts Council of Princeton, co-chairing its capital campaign during a period of rapid growth. She continued to graciously open her home and collection for tours and school trips where in the warmer months, visitors enjoyed her beautiful garden and fed her 200-some year old pet tortoise, George, who had been a member of Queen Victoria’s court.

Private tribute events currently being planned are: Princeton in June; Nantucket, Mass. in August. For inquiries please contact jjohnson@artscouncilof

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Arts Council of Princeton’s Kristina Johnson Memorial Fund using the online DONATE button at or mail to Jeniah Johnson, Director of Development and Marketing, Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, 102 Witherspoon Street,
Princeton, N.J. 08542-3204


Vivian M. Morse

Vivian M. Morse, formerly of Princeton, died May 8, 2013 at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center following a stroke.

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1927, she was predeceased by her parents, Samuel and Rose Mirell.

Vivian moved to Princeton from Dayton, Ohio in 1965 with her husband and daughter when her husband, a research chemist, pursued a new job opportunity in New Jersey. While in Princeton, she returned to school at night to complete her bachelor’s degree, earning a BS in mathematics from Rutgers University in 1972. She then took a position in the sampling department at Opinion Research Corporation, where she worked until being accepted to the advanced computer science program at City College of New York, which she completed in 1978.

In 1979, Vivian moved with her husband to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania due to his transfer there from Merck’s Rahway headquarters to its Calgon subsidiary. She remained in Pittsburgh, her adopted hometown, until her death, and continued her lifelong passion for learning by earning a Master’s degree in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh in 1997, at age 70.

An avid painter, Vivian was a long-time member of the Princeton Art Association. She volunteered regularly at Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, reading advanced mathematical textbooks. She was a contributing writer of mathematical questions for the SAT exam to Educational Testing Service. A lover of classical music, she was an enthusiastic supporter of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. She enjoyed travelling with her husband after his retirement, visiting Europe, Alaska and China on numerous excursions.

Vivian will be sorely missed by her loving husband of 67 years, Lewis D. Morse of Pittsburgh, her daughter, Marjorie Morse Bell and her husband Gavin Bell of Princeton, and four adoring grandchildren, Megan E. Bell of Ottawa, Canada, and Collin, Hayley, and Sean Bell of Princeton. She also leaves behind her devoted caregiver, Maria Garcia.

Funeral services were held May 12 in Pittsburgh. Arrangements were made by Ralph Schugar, Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Vivian’s memory be made to Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, 20 Roszel Road, Princeton, N.J. 08540, or to a charity of your choice.


5-15-13 Pitts ObitZachary Stephen Dawson-Pitts

Zachary Stephen Dawson-Pitts died suddenly on May 6, 2013 in Belmar New Jersey. He was 26 years old. Zach was pre-deceased by his mother, Suzanne E. Dawson of Raleigh, North Carolina, and is survived by his father, Stephen Pitts of Princeton and his two sisters, Liza Dawson-Pitts of West Trenton and Anna Dawson-Pitts of Princeton. Zach is also survived by his grandparents, Col. and Mrs W.H. Dawson III of Palm Springs, Calif. and Oak Island, N.C. He is survived by aunts and uncles and many cousins. Zach also leaves behind the love of his life Jessa Harper of Levittown Pa. and countless friends from high and low places.

Memorial services for Zach will be held this Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 1 p.m. at Trinity Church, 33 Mercer St, in Princeton. A reception at the church will follow immediately after the service.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Zach may be sent to: Trinity Church, 33 Mercer St., Princeton, N.J. 08540; SAVE, A Friend to Homeless Animals, 900 Herrontown Road, Princeton, N.J. 08540; The 24 Club of Princeton, Inc., 1225 State Road – Rear, Princeton, N.J. 08540; or The Crisis Ministry of Mercer County, 61 Nassau St., Princeton, N.J. 08542. Please write “In memory of Zachary Dawson-Pitts” in a memo or make donations online.


5-15-13 Amirzafari ObitMohammad S. Amirzafari

Mohammad S. Amirzafari, 83 of Princeton died Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at home. He was born in Rasht, Iran. Having spent his youth by the Caspian Sea, he felt most at home on the beach. He was an avid amateur photographer and mountain climber. He was fond of the poetry of Hafez, loved classical Iranian music, and was quick to break into song. He was a procurement manager for the Iranian National Oil Company until 1980 when he left Iran for Spain. In 1982 he moved to the United States. He deeply missed Iran and the family he left behind.

He has been a resident of Princeton since 1984. He was retired from Princeton University where he worked at Firestone Library. He is the son of the late Naser Amirzafari, and Heshmat Saleh. He is survived by a son Kam Amirzafari, a daughter Shohreh Harris, a brother Naser Amirzafari, 4 sisters Fakhri Amirzafari, Nayer Amirzafari, Nezhat Amirzafari and Nahid Amirzafari, 4 grandchildren Nolan Harris, Ian Harris, Thomas Amirzafari and Luke Amirzafari.

Arrangements are private and under the direction of the Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton.


Joachim E. Parrella

Joachim E. Parrella, 83, died at his home in Cincinnati, Ohio, on April 28, 2013. He was born April 10, 1930, in New Haven, Conn., to Gioacchino Erasmus Parrella and Angelina Fera Parrella. The family moved to Trenton in 1945, and Jo lived in West Windsor from 1973 to 2010. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Nancianne; daughters Amy Noznesky (David), Hobe Sound, Fla.; and Lisa O’Connell (Terry), Loveland, Ohio; granddaughters Megan Strauss and Catherine and Madeline O’Connell; brothers Jasper E. Parrella (Connie), Morrisville, Pa., and Luigi G. Parrella of Brazil; and sisters Aurora D. Parrella, West Trenton, N.J., and Gilda C. Parrella, Chicago, Ill. He was predeceased by his brother Paul.

Jo began a career in aircraft engineering, but later went back to school to study to be a teacher of choral music. He taught first in Trenton, and then for 32 years in the Princeton Schools, retiring from John Witherspoon Middle School, where he established a successful choral program. In addition to teaching, Jo Parrella was an expert at concert logistics and recording. Along with Nancianne, he worked with renowned choral conductor Robert Shaw, with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, Pa., and from 1995-2009 as logistics coordinator for the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space concert series at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, New York City. A Memorial Mass will be held there on Sunday, May 26, at 3 p.m., 980 Park Avenue at 84th St., New York, N.Y. 10028.

A full obituary, photos, and memorial information are online at