Hazel Vivian Staats-Westover
A beautiful person died February 21, 2016 in a flood of love and peace and hopefully, a little bump of morphine. The Reverend Hazel Vivian Staats-Westover: a so-so cook, a too-fast driver, an insomniac, a giggler, a feminist, a leftist, an activist, and a Christian.
She grew up Dutch in rural New Jersey between the wars, riding horses, going to the one-room schoolhouse where her mother was the only teacher, and playing the organ in the Griggstown Reformed Church. She and her younger brother Lloyd had a musical revue that launched a lifetime of musicianship. She had perfect pitch, toured playing a silver trumpet in an all-girls brass band, and well into her 90s she would twist her face up and sight-read full scores and sing soprano alongside.
The full sweep of her life is too big for a Facebook post: there are countless interviews and citations (Feminists who Changed America, 1963-1975!) and little dictaphone tapes where she told her stories, and we’ll have to put it all together at some later date. For now, the abridged version: after her father had died young in a car crash, she went west to USC and then to Chicago Theological Seminary and Harvard Divinity School. She ministered to Japanese internment camp survivors. She housed and mentored a young Jesse Jackson in Southside Chicago while he organized Martin Luther King’s Operation Breadbasket (please listen to Cannonball Adderley’s Country Preacher, which was recorded at that time, about that time). She spoke in front of 100,000 people at a socialist antiwar rally in Paris, sharing the dais with Madame Nguyen Thi Binh. She was a chaplain and the first director of the Women’s Center at Princeton University after they began admitting women in the 70’s. When a great-granddaughter of hers had a third-grade history lesson about the Roosevelt’s, Hazel was pleased to pitch in. She had, after all, lunched with Eleanor.
She married twice in her life. Her first husband was the father of her two children Dawn and Allan, a preacher turned civil rights activist who left her during the full ardor of the free love era. Her second husband was an ex-Marine and lifelong Republican who adored her, adorably, until his death last year, even as she posted STAND UP TO THE NRA petitions all over Facebook.
As fitting for someone who worked on a version of the Bible with all the male pronouns taken out (think HERstory, but over the entire King James Bible), Hazel was a massive Hillary supporter, even if her politics were more Bernie. It’s bittersweet to think Clinton will win but Hazel won’t be here to see it. The Clintons, for their part, have a huge responsibility not to play cynical with the support of women like Hazel, who shouldered the struggle for decades. She fought a non-binary fight, for women’s rights but also for love and economic justice and inclusion of all kinds. Hazel had been officiating ceremonies for same-sex couples for years before it was legal marriage. When it came time for her to officiate a grandson’s wedding, she happily suggested that for the multi-faith non-believer couple that she could put a brown paper book cover over her Bible so the Buddhists and Jews and Christians would all feel equally welcome.
Despite her lifetime in the ministry, Hazel was never content to parrot scripture as if it held incontrovertible truths (it was, after all, written by men). She always had more questions than answers, and death was no different. She spent much of this winter at her daughter’s home in Key West dying rather cheerfully, with an out-loud sense of wonder. “This is so fascinating,” she would say. “I get to see what life is all about.”
The hospice doctor came in the week after Christmas and had the kind of warm bedside chat that hospice is so good for. Grandma told him some abbreviated version of her travels — into East Germany, the Soviet Union, to China for the U.N.’s World Conference on Women — and he asked her why she traveled so much. “I just wanted to MEET all these PEOPLE out there,” she said in the jolly all-caps emphatics she used for everything. “Just to see who they ARE, see what makes us all HUMAN.”
Her family is in awe of everything she did and saw in her life. She shaped many lives. But for family, she left a simpler example: optimism and joy to the last. “I don’t know where I’m going after this,” she said not long before she died, “but I’m sure it’s going to be great.”
In that great place, wherever it is, she might rejoin her son, Allan. She is survived by her daughter Dawn; her grandsons Charles, David, Nathan, Leslie, Robert, and Florent; six great-grandchildren; and Bob Staats-Westover’s three children; Douglas, Diane, and Bryce; grandchildren Peter, Stephen, Mark, Michael, Anna and John; and ten great-grandchildren.
Written by her grandson Nathan, transmitted with great love through Dawn Thornburgh, blessed to be her daughter ….
A Celebration of her Life and Memorial Service will be held on March 26, 2016 at 10 a.m. at the University Chapel at Princeton where she was ordained. In lieu of flowers, please contribute to your favorite charity: Hazel would encourage something to do with women’s issues, but will maintain, as always, her dedication to your right to choose.
Marilyn Murray, 81, of Princeton, died February 27, 2016. Born August 22, 1934 in South Bend, In., she graduated from Purdue University and earned a Masters degree in social work from IUPUI in 1984. She worked briefly in that field in Seattle and for 10 years in Tucson before moving to Princeton in 2001. Here, she worked as a dog-walker and care-giver, enjoying all the people and pets that she was able to help.
Predeceased by her parents, William and Mildred Gray; brother Ronald Gray and daughter Sheryl Liechty; Marilyn is survived by brother Lowell (Jean) Gray of Titusville, FL; son Brian (Becky) Liechty of Plymouth, In.; daughter Lynn (Larry) Peterson of Tucson, Ariz.; grandchildren Ryan, Kevin, and Eric Peterson; and Erica Liechty (Adam) Nagel, Jessica (Rick) Beatty, and Tristan (fiance Alexis Morgan) Liechty; great-grandchildren Carter and Hunter Beatty; and Logan, Lilah, Gage and Jase Nagel; and nieces Pat Gray and Claudia Benyon and nephew Doug Gray.
A Celebration of Life will take place on Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 3 p.m. in the community room at Spruce Circle in Princeton. All are invited to attend. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to SAVE Animal Shelter.
Phillip Amico, 57; a long time resident of the Palmer Square neighborhood in Princeton, passed away March 9, 2016 of natural causes. Phillip was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y.; the son of the late Joseph C. Amico, MD and Mildred Amico. He graduated from Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, Georgetown University, and Syracuse University. Phillip had a long and rewarding career with Pfizer Pharmaceuticals and Johnson & Johnson; traveling the world as a marketing director for the neuroscience franchise.
He is survived by his mother, Mildred Amico of Rye, N.Y.; brothers Paul of Hoboken, N.J.; Joseph of Armonk, N.Y.; Christopher of Manlius, N.Y.; and Matthew of New York City along with 9 nieces and nephews.
An event celebrating his life will be held on Saturday, March 19 from noon to 3 p.m. at Grand Vin, 500 Grand Street, Hoboken, N.J. You may contact the family for further details.
Arrangements are under the direction of The Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton.
Alice R. Davison
Alice R. “Betty” Davison, 92 of Princeton passed away Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at Park Place Center in Monmouth Junction, N.J. Born in Spring Lake, New Jersey, she was a lifelong resident of Princeton.
After graduating from Princeton High School, she enlisted in the United States Navy at the onset of World War II, being honorably discharged at the end of the war. She then joined the NJ Bell Telephone Company where she worked for many years before joining The Hun School of Princeton where she worked until her retirement.
She was a member of Trinity Church and American Legion Post 76. She was a proud charter member of the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad Ladies Auxiliary and the Engine Company #1 Ladies Auxiliary. One of her proudest accomplishments was writing “The Firemen’s Prayer” that is still read today.
Alice was predeceased by her husband Francis S. “Sam” Davison; her son, Francis S. “Booper” Davison Jr.; her parents, Pauline and Charles Rauch; a sister, Marjorie Hunt; and brothers Albert “Hooker” Rauch, Joseph Rauch, and Jack Rauch. She is survived by her daughter-in-law Ann Davison and her grandchildren Sara, Ryan, and Scott Davison, all of Princeton; her sister Marilyn Wilson of Robbinsville; special niece Linda Fugate of Columbus; and many additional nieces, nephews, and friends.
Funeral services were held Saturday, March 12, 2016 at the Kimble Funeral Home, Princeton, officiated by Rev. Catherine E. Williams, Associate Pastor of Pastoral Care, Princeton United Methodist Church. Alice was laid to rest with military honors beside her beloved husband in Princeton Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Senior Care Ministry of Princeton, PO Box 1517, Princeton, NJ 08542 or a charity of the donor’s choice.
Barbara Ann Walsh
We remember Barbara, 83, a remarkable colleague, friend, aunt, and sister who passed away unexpectedly one year ago on March 20, 2015. Now, on this first anniversary of her passing, we reaffirm our love for her and how much she touched our lives and those of all who knew her.
Barbara was brought up in New Bedford, Massachusetts and became the first in her family to attend college, graduating from Pratt Institute with a degree in food service management. She expanded her expertise in gourmet food preparation, graduating with special honors from Le Cordon Bleu Ecole de Cuisine in Paris and receiving certification in Italian cuisine in Venice. A special honor was her election as a “Life Fellow” of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.
Her career included positions in school foodservice management and acting director of food services at the Reader’s Digest Association. Along with responsibility for the service of 4,000 meals a day to staff, she was in charge of the prestigious executive dining room, hosting international celebrities, government, and corporate officials.
A highly skilled food service administrator with a top performance record, she was recruited as director of food and nutrition services for the Princeton, New Jersey regional school system where she worked until her retirement. She loved interacting with the teachers and students, inviting them to menu meetings and food tastings, and encouraging them to enjoy new foods she and her staff prepared. While adhering to the strict federal meal and budget guidelines, Barbara focused on fresh, healthy, whole foods presented in an appealing manner.
Throughout her career, she was a gourmet cook and food stylist. As president of the New Jersey Nutrition Council and the New Jersey School Food Service Association, she received awards and accolades from her colleagues and professional associations. She trained dietetic interns and medical nutrition students from Rutgers University’s food science department and was associate professor of food service management, Gloucester County College, Gloucester, N.J. She was a contributing author of quantity food preparation and sanitation textbooks, and participated in research projects with the U.S. department of agriculture nutrition and technical service.
Barbara moved to Tequesta, Florida after her retirement, where she enjoyed leisurely days in her condo by the intracoastal waterway. She loved spending time with her 3 sisters and their husbands, 7 nieces and nephews, and 16 great nieces and nephews.
She will be remembered for her spirit of adventure, her love of animals, and her secret recipe for chocolate fudge sauce! She didn’t have children, but we, her three sisters, were the beneficiaries of her kind heart, generosity, and love of travel.
We are truly blessed to have had her for a sister, and we will never forget the
wonderful memories we shared together. She will live on in our hearts forever.
Her loving sisters,
Christine, Carol, and Sandie.
Shang Wen Yuan
Shang Wen Yuan, 87, of Princeton died Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at home surrounded by his loving family. Born in Shanghai, China, he moved to the United States in 1949. He received a BS and MS in civil engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1953 and 1955, respectively.
Mr. Yuan resided in Morristown for over 35 years before moving to Skillman in 2000. He retired in 1998 with over 40 years of service as a civil engineer with, and a partner of Hazen and Sawyer Consulting Engineers, New York City.
Son of the late Yuan An Pu and Jin Qian Mei, he is survived by his wife of 54 years, Pearl P. (Yao) Yuan; a son Jeffrey Yuan; a daughter Frances Yuan; two sisters Jean Yuan and Sylvaine Tam; and three grandchildren Brian and Mira Yuan, and Justin Liu.
The funeral service was held at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, March 14, 2016 at the Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, 40 Vandeventer Avenue, Princeton. Burial followed in the Princeton Cemetery.