July 31, 2013

Obituaries 7/31/13

Obit Wilder 7-31-13Gita Jane Wilder

Gita Jane Wilder, 76, of Princeton died on July 21, 2013 following an 11 month battle with cancer. She was in hospice care at the Merwick Care and Rehabilitation Center in Plainsboro, New Jersey where her family and friends provided her with constant companionship and care. Gita was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 22, 1937, the daughter of Aaron and Miriam Zabarkes. Aaron was a science teacher in the Philadelphia public school system and Miriam was a secretary in the school system as well. Gita received a BA in sociology/anthropology from Bryn Mawr College, where she also did graduate work in child development and education. She received an MA in sociology/demography from Brown University and an MA and PhD from Princeton University in psychology.

From 1959-63 she was a research assistant for a Longitudinal Growth Study at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. In 1964 she joined the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in Princeton, first in the Test Development Division and then in the Division of Education Policy Research, where she was a senior research scientist and was a director of the Research Survey Center. During her 34 years at ETS she worked on a broad spectrum of educational programs. Examples include: member of the team that carried out the original evaluation of the educational impact of Sesame Street; project director of “A Review of the Literature on Gender Differences in Test Performance”; and developer of process measurements for an evaluation of federally-funded Parent-Child Development Centers. While at ETS, she took a two-year leave of absence (1992-94) to serve as director of summative research for ghostwriter at Children’s Television Workshop where she coordinated and directed all research activities related to this new multi-media literacy project for children. From 1999-2005 she was a senior social research scientist at the Law School Admission Council in Newtown, Pa., where she was a member of the executive coordinating committee for the “After the JD” study, a longitudinal study of legal careers. She also provided oversight of the Law School Admission Council Research Grants Program. From 2005-10 she was a senior social science researcher at the National Association for Law Placement in Washington D.C., where she continued her research on the early-career experiences of lawyers.

From 1987 until she became ill in 2012, Gita also held a number of adjunct and visiting professor positions: Adjunct Assist. Prof., Department of Psychology, Bryn Mawr College; Adjunct Assist. Prof. Social Science, Mercer County Community College; Adjunct Instructor in Social Science, Somerset Community College; Visiting Lecturer, Department of Psychology, Princeton University, where she taught a number of courses and, in particular, taught in the Teacher Preparation Program.

Gita deeply enjoyed teaching each semester at Princeton University. Her course, psych 307, educational psychology, a requirement in the Program for Teacher Preparation, was very popular with students, particularly psychology majors and those interested in educational policy. She was a compassionate educator, insisting students meet her high standards, but deeply respectful of their desire to become, or at least consider becoming, educators. She also worked with teachers from local schools in QUEST, a summer elementary science course run by the University’s Teacher Prep program.

In her work with Teacher Prep, she brought a wonderful balance of wit and wisdom to the program’s work, serving as a portfolio reviewer for elementary teaching candidates, and contributing her extensive educational research experience to decisions relating to evaluation and accreditation. She also helped develop the informational feedback survey given to Teacher Prep alumni and employers. Gita’s insights, candor, and (unpretentious) point of view enhanced staff discussions and professional culture.

Gita’s comic comments on life delighted her friends and colleagues and her one-liners are often quoted by them. On wine: “I never met a Pinot Grigio I didn’t like.” On observing the P-rade (and paraphrasing F. Scott Fitzgerald): “watching the privileged classes enjoy their privileges.” Her splendid sense of humor brightened both social occasions and many a long faculty and staff meeting.

While at Princeton, Gita served, for many years, on the Institutional Review Board (IRB), which reviews all research proposals for concerns regarding safety and privacy. She also served as a student advisor for freshman and sophomore undergraduate students.

Among her many volunteer and community activities were: Member, Board of Overseers and Chair of Evaluation Committee, Governors School of New Jersey; Trustee, Mill Hill Child and Family Development Center, Trenton, New Jersey; Literacy tutor, Literacy Volunteers of America. Also, for the entire 50 years she lived in Princeton, she was active in the Bryn Mawr Club of Princeton and worked on the Bryn Mawr book sale that raised money for the school’s scholarship fund.

On a personal level, she enjoyed playing and listening to music during her entire life (she was first bass violinist in the All-Philadelphia High School Orchestra). She was also an inveterate knitter and supplied baby sweaters, hats, mittens, scarves, and afghans to what seemed like half of Princeton.

Gita is survived by her husband of 56 years, Joseph Wilder of Princeton; their daughter, Susan Wilder of Washington, D.C.; their son, Michael Wilder, his wife Elizabeth, and their daughters Isabel and Annie, also of Washington, DC; and their son David Wilder, his wife Lihi and their sons Aviv and Lev of Glendale California. She is also survived by her brother Arthur Zabarkes, his wife Irene, of New York, New York, and his children, Adriana and Rachel.

There will be a celebration of Gita’s life on Sunday, September 29 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton, 50, Cherry Hill Road.

In lieu of flowers, donations to the Bryn Mawr Scholarship Fund will be welcome.


Obit Hendershott 7-31-13Rachel E. Hendershott

Rachel Elizabeth Hendershott, 84, of Princeton Junction, passed away peacefully with family by her side on July 26, 2013, at Compassionate Care Hospice at St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton.

Born December 21, 1928 and raised Rachel Elizabeth Van Wagner in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, she spent her summers with her parents Floyd M. and Catherine Van Wagner, her twin sister Mary, and brothers Peter and Charles Van Wagner on the shores of Lac Nominingue in the Laurentien mountains of Quebec.

She moved with her husband, Bill Hendershott, and their three children, Caroline Jill, Stephen, and Catherine to Princeton and became very active as a volunteer working with the AAMH, the Eden Institute, The Girl Scouts, and the Princeton Watercolor Society. Rachel was a world traveler, photographer, and watercolor artist. She traveled from the North Pole to the African Savanna to Indonesia capturing the beauty of the world in her photographs. She spent the last seven years living at Bear Creek Assisted Living in Princeton Junction. During her final days she was tenderly cared for by her family and caregivers at the Compassionate Care Hospice at St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton.

Predeceased by her beloved husband Bill, Rachel will always be lovingly remembered by her children Caroline Jill Hendershott; Catherine Weber and husband David and Stephen Hendershott and wife Jill; grandchildren Scott Weber and his wife Stephanie; Kevin Weber and his fiancée Julie Sauer; Christopher Weber; Kyle Nosal and his wife Megan; Matthew Nosal and Rachel S. Hendershott; great-grandchildren Jackson and Colin Weber and Juliet Nosal; brothers Peter and Charles Van Wagner and twin sister Mary Waldvogel; as well as extended family in Canada and here in the United States.

Cremation services were private. Donations in Rachel’s memory can be made to the Alzheimer’s Organization, www.alz.org.

Condolences may be extended at TheKimbleFuner


MarkSweeneyFinalMark William Sweeney

Mark William Sweeney, beloved husband, father, and friend died Friday (July 19) of cancer. One thousand paper cranes, handmade by friends and family, turned gently in the sunlight of his room. He was home with his family caring for him until the end. Mark was a graphic artist and illustrator who couldn’t help but teach everyone around him something cool about Apple computers. He was 50 years old.

Born in Tucson, Arizona on December 17, 1962, Mark came home from the hospital tucked in a red stocking — fitting for his joyful outlook. His childhood was spent in Princeton, New Jersey where he attended Princeton Day School. Mark studied architecture at Syracuse University before giving in to his passion for art. He was a painter, sculptor, and gifted ceramist.

After college, Mark lived in San Francisco for nearly a decade where he created hundreds of illustrations for MacUser magazine and produced maps for several cruise lines, including Royal Viking. After settling in Upper Montclair 16 years ago, he was most proud of the many illustrations he created as part of several permanent exhibits at the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. Mark became a certified “Creative” for Apple and brought his enthusiasm and know-how to anyone he worked with. Teachers, children, and other artists were among his favorite clients.

Mark belonged to Union Congregational Church where he felt right at home and was humbled by their steadfast support throughout his illness. Mark had a twinkle in his eye, was a friend to all and never complained. He was a devoted father to Evan (17) and Heather (14) and an over the moon soul mate to his loving wife of 21 years, Catherine. Mark cherished his relationship with his father, Dr. William A. Sweeney (of Skillman, New Jersey) and his mother Jeanne Sweeney, deceased. He was a loving brother to both John A. Sweeney (of San Francisco) and Rita A. Sweeney, who preceded him in death.

The family gathered in quiet sorrow and prayer at the time of his passing and intend to celebrate his life with a memorial service in the fall. If you would like to make a gift in Mark’s name, the family would appreciate a donation on his behalf to the Montclair Art Museum where Mark spent many creative hours in the ceramics studio (montclairartmuseum.org).



Wendy L. (Halpern) Rickert, 57, died unexpectedly on July 24, 2013. Born in New York City, she was a 1973 graduate of Princeton High School. She spent time living in both Colorado and California before returning to Princeton in 1992.

Following the completion of her education, Wendy worked in the banking industry before marrying and becoming a homemaker and eventually relocating to Levittown, Pa. This year she celebrated 18 years of marriage with her loving husband Kenneth Rickert, also formerly of Princeton. The two have known each other since they were 11 years of age.

Wendy was predeceased by her parents, Henry and Gloria Halpern. She is survived by her husband Kenneth, daughter Amie Rickert as well as her sister Susan Halpern.

A celebration of life service will be held at Princeton Cemetery, 29 Greenview Avenue, on Friday August 2, 2013 at 11 a.m.


obit geiselFrances L. Geisel

Frances L. Geisel, 94, of Pennswood Village, Newtown, Pa., died peacefully on July 22, of the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Frances and her late husband Jack had lived in Princeton for 36 years until their retirement from their second career, Tennis Activities, in 2003.

Mrs. Geisel grew up in Harrisburg, Pa., the only daughter of noted architect Ritchie Lawrie and his wife Helen. She graduated from the Seiler School before going on to Vassar College, where she majored in mathematics and graduated in 1939.

While raising her family, Mrs. Geisel returned to school, earning her masters in library science from Drexel University, and then serving as head librarian at the Abington Friends School. In 1967, the Geisels relocated to Princeton, while maintaining a small apartment in center city Philadelphia, as Mr. Geisel completed the final 10 years of his career at Rohm & Haas Company, leading its social responsibility initiative.

It was during this time that the Geisels began volunteering their time coaching an inner-city team as part of their recently launched National Junior Tennis League (NJTL). But they were more than coaches. Mrs. Geisel tutored a number of the players so they could earn their GED, and the Geisels provided scholarships to help three of their players earn their college degrees. One night, one young player showed up at the Geisels’ apartment door with all of his possessions in a paper bag. His grandmother had just died and he had no place to go. Darryl continued to call Mrs. Geisel every year on her birthday and on Mothers Day.

Mrs. Geisel was devoted to her family, and the summers she and her husband spent in Stone Harbor with their children and grandchildren were especially memorable. She was just as passionate about supporting progressive political causes, particularly those promoting social justice and racial equality.

Bridge, tennis, and travel were three of Mrs. Geisel’s favorite activities. She earned Master’s status as a bridge player, and played family mixed doubles weekly on the clay court Jack and his son Ritchie built in Ritchie’s back yard. The Geisels combined tennis and travel by hosting groups of tennis enthusiasts on trips to Spain, Kenya, Russia, and Egypt, where they mixed sightseeing with friendly tennis competitions with the locals.

In 1975, Mr. and Mrs. Geisel founded the Trenton Chapter of the NJTL, and saw it grow and flourish over the years they served on the Board. The Geisels were honored on several occasions for their contributions to the sport of tennis, and following Mr. Geisel’s passing in 2008, their sons established the Geisel Scholarship Endowment at NJTL of Trenton, which annually assists a deserving participant in the program to attend college.

Mrs. Geisel is survived by sons John, Jr. and Ritchie, daughters-in-law Betsy McNamara and Pamela Geisel, former daughters-in-law Judy McGullam and Sonya Geisel Hunt, grandchildren John Geisel III, Laurie Forrer, Janelle Werdesheim, and Justin Geisel, and ten great grandchildren.

The family will hold a celebration of Mrs. Geisel’s life in the fall. In the meantime, memorial contributions may be made to the Trenton Chapter of NJTL, 439 S. Broad Street, Suite 208, Trenton, N.J. 08611 or online at www.njtloftrenton.com.


Helen B. Golden

Helen B. Golden, 92, died on Monday, July 22, 2013 at Bristol Glen in Newton. Mrs. Golden, daughter of the late Ernest and Helen Barnes was born in Yonkers, N.Y. October 14, 1920. She grew up in Kingston and was a 60 year resident of Princeton.

For many years, Mrs. Golden was the bookkeeper for Philip J. Golden Plumbing and Heating in Princeton.

Mrs. Golden was predeceased by her husband Philip J. Golden in 1999 and 2 brothers, Ernest and Thomas Barnes. She is survived by her children, Nancy Morgenstern and her husband Robert of Sparta; Walter Thomas Golden and Regina Jones of Homosassa, Fla.; Daniel P. Golden and his wife Aine of Dublin, Ireland; and Phyllis Andrews and her husband Robert of Durham, N.C. as well as 7 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

A Funeral Mass of Christian Burial was held on Friday July 26, 2013 at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of The Lake RC Church in Sparta. Friends were able to call at the church to pay their respects to the family one hour prior to the mass. An interment graveside service was held on Saturday at 11 a.m. in Princeton Cemetery, Princeton. For online condolences, please see www.fjohnram