May 3, 2017

Obituaries 5/3/17

Joseph Kovacs

Joseph Kovacs, 91, died on April 27 in his home in the Meadow Lakes retirement community in Hightstown, where he had lived since 2004. Born May 20, 1924 in Budapest, Hungary, to Joseph and Katalin Hari Kovacs, he began playing the violin under his father’s tutelage when he was five years old. He exhibited such talent that all his later teachers taught him for free. He won a scholarship at the Franz Liszt Royal Hungarian Academy of Music, where Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók were among his teachers and where he won the prestigious Hubay prize. At 18, he was offered a job as a concertmaster in Germany, so with his father’s blessing he fled the strife of war on foot, to avoid being shipped to Russia to fight. He crossed through Austria and Czechoslovakia into Germany and stayed near the Denmark border, where, amid the sounds of war, he played the violin under several famous conductors. Among the hardships of the time, he spoke of having had to line his worn-out shoes with cardboard to prolong their usefulness.

In 1948, invited by relatives in New Jersey, he made his way to the United States and lived first in New Brunswick, then in Princeton. He became concertmaster of the original Princeton Symphony Orchestra under Nicholas Harsanyi in the 1950s and enrolled in the Westminster Choir College, where he taught violin and earned a degree in conducting. Among his favorite extra-academic musical pursuits he founded the Collegium Musicum of Princeton in 1972, a small chamber group including many of his own students that met weekly and gave concerts for more than 25 years in Princeton churches. In addition to the serious classical music of Bach, Beethoven, Schoenberg and others, he always offered shorter, lighter pieces to charm and touch the spirit of his listeners.

He retired as professor emeritus from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.

In 1960 he met flutist Dorothy Stritesky at a summer music camp. They married in June 1961 and they spent summers thereafter on Moosehead Lake in Northern Maine until Dorothy died in October, 2007. They had no children but left behind a host of devoted and grateful students, many of whom have their own careers in music today.

A memorial gathering will be held in the Meadow Lakes Meeting Room on Saturday, May 20 from 2 to 3 p.m. and will be followed by refreshments.

In lieu of flowers a tax-deductible donation may be made to the Education Award Fund, c/o Rev. Byron Shafer, 82 Meadow Lakes, Hightstown, NJ 08520.


Zula Bell Pemberton

Zula Bell Pemberton of Princeton, age 83, passed away April 23, 2017 at the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro. Born in Columbia, N.C., she was a resident of the Princeton community for over 60 years. She graduated from Tyrrell High School, Columbia, N.C.

Zula was employed as a library technician. She attended the First Baptist Church of Princeton. Zula was predeceased by her parents, Dwight and Justee McCleese; two brothers, Covin and Hoover McCleese; and three sisters. Zula is survived by her husband of 43 years, Logan Pemberton; one son, Larry Spruill (Fern); stepson Thomas Pemberton; two daughters, Dale Spruill-Redding and Crystal Vecchione; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

A memorial service was held on April 29, 2017 at First Baptist Church, John Street and Paul Robeson Place, Princeton. Arrangements were by the Hughes Funeral Home.


Stanley Rodland

Stanley Rodland formerly of Montgomery Township, passed away April 16, 2017, at home in Palm Desert, California. Born August 29, 1931, he was the son of Norwegian immigrants, Jennie and Arne Rodland of Brooklyn, New York.

Mr. Rodland was a veteran of the Korean War and served as a forward observer from 1951-1954. He was honorably discharged as a corporal.

His early working years were in construction as a carpenter and supervisor. He later established a successful new home construction company based in Montgomery Township. He also volunteered his skills in supervising the construction of the Evangelical Free Church on Belle Meade-Griggstown Road.

His true passion was boating on the Chesapeake Bay with both sail and power boats. He also liked to travel. Many of the trips were cruises combining his love for boating and travel.

He is survived by his wife Marie, brother Ray, sister Ellen, son Paul, daughter Donna, two grandchildren, two great grandchildren, two sisters-in-law, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held: Sunday, May 7, at 2 p.m. at Montgomery Evangelical Free Church in Belle Meade, NJ.

There will be a gathering starting at 12:30 p.m. where a light lunch will be served.


Julia H. Rhodes

Julia H. Rhodes, 77, of Princeton Junction, passed away on Tuesday, April 18th, after an 18-month battle against cancer.

Mrs. Rhodes attended the Plumfield and Thomas schools in Connecticut, graduated as a Wellesley scholar in 1961, and earned her master’s in teaching from Radcliffe in 1963. She wed Dr. Rodman Dunbar Rhodes that same year, and moved with him to Madison, Wisconsin and then to Champaign, Illinois, serving as a high school English teacher in both districts. The couple moved to Princeton in 1972.

Julia lost no time in making Princeton her home. In 1973, she began teaching English in West Windsor. In 1976, she joyfully became the supervisor of English and language arts instruction for the Spotswood Public Schools, a position that subsequently expanded to include supervising foreign language instruction. In 2001, she was named principal of Spotswood’s Austin G. Schoenly Elementary School, a post she held until her retirement in 2005. Julia then continued teaching, tutoring local students in English and completing educational consultancies in Haiti and Nigeria. She also co-authored, with her long-time friend Dr. Alice Deakins, an upcoming book entitled The Writer’s Sentence, and could be found reviewing drafts of this publication until a week before her death.

Julia was a devoted member of Nassau Presbyterian Church and of her community. She served as a Sunday school teacher for over 10 years, and particularly enjoyed helping her students organize the church’s annual fundraiser to fight river blindness in Africa. An enthusiastic community advocate, she was president of her neighborhood association. As a patron of the arts, she subscribed to McCarter Theatre and the American Repertory Ballet, and volunteered regularly at both institutions.

Teacher, mentor, faithful disciple, community leader, and arts enthusiast; these all describe Julia, and yet do not do her justice. For it was as a friend, sister, and mother that she was the most exemplary. Brimming with compassion, humor, generosity, and intelligence, she cultivated friendships with many around the world, including the Kagitcibasi family of Turkey and the Camara and Sow families of Guinea. Many of the family’s closest friends simply referred to her as “mom.” The hundreds who have brought a problem to her kitchen table, and who have listened to her calmly suggest, “Let’s figure this out,” will forever miss her guidance, laughter, empathy, and wisdom.

Julia was predeceased by her mother and father, Albert Spaulding Howe, Jr. and Dorothy Waller Hutchinson Howe of Norwalk, Connecticut; her brothers Bert and Tom; and her husband, Rodman. She is survived by sister, Doria Howe; daughters Rebecca and Sarah; their husbands Fode Camara and Nicholas Stewart; and by grandchildren Julia Fanta Camara and Autumn Dunbar Stewart.

A service in her honor will be held at the Nassau Presbyterian Church, 61 Nassau Street in Princeton, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 6. Funeral arrangements have been made by Varcoe-Thomas of Doylestown, Pa., www.varcoethomasfuneral

In celebration of her life and that of her husband, the family is designing a custom gravestone. In lieu of offering flowers, you are invited to contribute to this more lasting gift by sending donations to her executor, Mr. Kirk Bonamici, CPA, PO Box 6231, Monroe Township, NJ 08831.

May Julia rest in peace, and may her example inspire many for generations to come.


Memorial Service

Hannah Putnam Fox

Hannah P. Fox, 96, died on December 30, 2016 in suburban Washington, D.C. A memorial service to celebrate her life will be held on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. in the Princeton University Chapel. Rev. Dr. Alison Boden, Dean of the Chapel will officiate; family members will speak; music will be by Eric Plutz, University organist and by the Princeton University Marching Band. A reception will follow at Murray-Dodge Hall. Hannah’s complete obituary was published in the January 11, 2017 issue of Town Topics.