Stuart Duncan, 93, died peacefully at his home on April 30, 2021. Born in 1927 in New York City, he began his schooling at St. Bernards and Trinity. At age 14, he moved to Ridgefield, Conn., and finished his preparatory education at Wooster School in Danbury. As so many did during that time, he deferred his admittance to Princeton University to serve in the U.S. Navy during WWII, returning to his education in 1946.
When he graduated in 1950, he had already embarked on three associations that would last him his lifetime. He had begun ushering at Trinity Episcopal Church in Princeton, a relationship that would endure for 70 years; he had developed a bond with his university that led to decades of happy service as a Marshal at the P-rade, culminating in his years as Grand Marshal. He commissioned the Frank T. Gorman ceremonial mace in 1979 to honor his good friend’s prior service. Stuart was the first to carry it in 1980 and it has been carried in the P-rade by every Grand Marshal since. He was honored in 2012 with an induction into The Society of the Claw, a membership given to those who have contributed to the University in a significant way.
But most importantly, as a senior, while pursuing his passion for the theater in a student production at Miss Fine’s School, he met his future bride, Nellie May Oliphant. They were married in 1951, a union that would last for 65 years until “Petie’s” passing in 2016. By 1954, the couple had returned to the area for the birth of the first of their four children and Stuart’s expected career in the family business. For four generations, beginning in 1839, the Duncan family had owned the U.S. distribution rights to the Worcestershire sauce Lea & Perrins. Sales and marketing were a perfect fit for Stuart’s outgoing personality, and he rose quickly to Vice President of Sales.
But his interest and passion for the theater had never waned and by the late ’60s, Stuart was ready to create something for himself. Partnering with Edgar Lansbury (brother to Angela), the duo found immediate success producing Off-Broadway revivals of Waiting for Godot, followed in 1971 by an award-winning revival of Long Day’s Journey into Night, starring Robert Ryan and two young, at that time unknowns, Stacy Keach and James Naughton.
Throughout 1970, the duo were also developing an unusual project — a master’s thesis by a Carnegie Mellon student based on The Gospel according to St. Matthew. They brought in a recent Carnegie Mellon graduate, Stephen Schwartz, to write the music and lyrics (leading to Schwartz’s first Grammy) and in May of 1971, the rock-gospel hit Godspell opened in New York City. Producing the subsequent road shows around the world kept Stuart busy for several years.
Stuart never lost his commitment to the importance of community theater and spent his later years as a well-regarded theater critic for The Princeton Packet and U.S. 1. Winning countless awards from The New Jersey Press Association for his reviews, his two-decade career as a theater critic was lauded in 2015 when he received a Perry Award from the New Jersey Association of Community Theaters for his outstanding contributions.
He had an ebullience for life, a quick wit, a sharp, inquiring mind, and a delightful spirit. He will be missed by many. Burial at All Saints’ Church in Princeton will be private, and a memorial service will be held at Trinity Church, Princeton, N.J., in the future.
Arrangements are under the direction of Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton.
Susan Ellis Waskow
Susan Ellis Waskow was a woman of action whose adventures ended at age 59 on May 17, 2021. She was born in Syracuse, NY, on November 17, 1961 to Eric Ellis, Ph.D., and Barbara Ellis, M.A., both of blessed memory. From 1964 on, she spent her formative years in idyllic Sewanee, Tennessee. She graduated from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, in 1983. Always independent, she lived in diverse locales such as Anchorage, AK; Buffalo, NY; Coconut Grove, FL; and Princeton and Hopewell, NJ.
She was a creator. She had a fulfilling first career as a costume designer and seamstress. It was while working at the Alaska Repertory Theatre that she met the love of her life, Darryl Waskow. Darryl and Susan were married for more than 30 years.
Nothing surpassed Susan’s love of her husband and her two wonderful children, Harry and Dorothy.
She worked for numerous Princeton University organizations, including the Office of Religious Life, Engineering, the Art Museum, and Outdoor Action.
Susan’s lifelong love of Judaism led her to be an active leader at Congregation Kehilat Shalom in Belle Mead, NJ, where she chanted Torah, served as adult education chair, ritual committee chair, and ultimately as Synagogue President.
Fueled by a deep sense of justice, Susan dove into projects with passion and gusto. She took part in numerous political campaigns and activism including the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, DC, where she took pride in engineering the tallest possible signs for herself and fellow marchers.
Her husband Darryl introduced her to sailing, and they enjoyed racing Snipes and Lightnings in regattas at the Jersey Shore and Caribbean. She enjoyed the sailing community as much as the competition. With her passion for the outdoors, she also delighted in camping, hiking, and kayaking.
Susan lived with great enthusiasm and a can-do attitude. She learned how to play flute in her 40s. She knitted numerous blankets for Project Linus, loved learning new dance steps, and cooked Iron Chef-style concoctions.
Like her father, she was the family storyteller. Once prompted, she could animatedly retell a story ripe with nuances and long forgotten details.
Susan was a protector. As the sibling closest in age to her special needs brother, Richard, she once confronted a bully, armed with only her trusty metal lunch box. As an adult she continued to take care of him through the remainder of his life, including through her service on the board of directors of Franklin County Adult Activity Center in Winchester, TN.
She had close relationships with her siblings, both biological and through marriage. She maintained lifelong friendships and made new friends wherever she was.
Susan was always giving to others. In tribute to her father, a heart transplant recipient, Susan made her intent to become an organ donor clear.
She lived life to its fullest. She was predeceased by her parents Barbara and Eric Ellis and her brother Richard.
The memory of her inimitable personality will be a comfort to her survivors. They include: her husband Darryl Waskow, her son Harry and his fiancé Samantha Davidson, and daughter Dorothy all of Hopewell, NJ; her brother Ralph Ellis and his wife Angie of Peachtree City, GA, and their children Abigail and Samuel; her sister, Beatrice Ellis Fine and her husband Steve of Leawood, KS, and their children Benjamin and Eric; brother-in-law Steven Waskow and his wife Valerie of Princeton, NJ; and sister-in-law Rosalind Hansen and her husband Michael also of Princeton, NJ.
A memorial gathering will be held on Thursday, May 20, 2021 from 12-3 p.m. at the Star of David Memorial Chapel of Princeton, 40 Vandeventer Avenue, Princeton, NJ 08542.
In lieu of flowers you may make contributions to the charity of one’s choice, Congregation Kehilat Shalom, 253 Belle Mead-Griggstown Road, Belle Mead, NJ 08502; or the Sourland Conservancy, 83 Princeton Avenue, Suite 1A, Hopewell, NJ 08525.
Donations may also be made to help train individuals preparing for careers working with special needs clients through The Richard Ellis Memorial Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City, 5801 West 115th Street, Overland Park, Kansas 66211.
Hortenzia (Dolly) Benchea Rapking
Hortenzia S. Benchea (Dolly) Rapking passed away at her home at Princeton Windrows, Princeton, NJ, on May 14, 2021, at the age of 97.
Dolly is predeceased by her husband of 67 years, Aaron H. Rapking, Jr., her first husband Charles Raezer, her parents, Myron and Margareta Benchea, and her brothers Hortenziu and Septemiu Benchea. Dolly is lovingly remembered by her son and daughter-in-law Michael and Linda Raezer of Tucson, AZ, and by her five daughters: Triana Bruso of Galloway Twp., NJ; Christine Cox of Longboat Key, FL; Frances and Steve Piesbergen of Florissant, MO; Caroline Rapking and David Hemingson of Reston, VA; MaryMarie and Frank Quigley of Annapolis, MD; niece Michele Henderson of Pensacola, FL; grandchildren Kellie, Stephanie, Charles, Sheryl, and Lisa; and great-grandchildren Katelyn, Karoline, Kathryn, Alana, Elyse, Christine, Henry, and Steven.
Born in Wheeling, WV, on October 17, 1923, Dolly grew up there and experienced several “adventures” during her youth, including in 1939 being with her brothers on a ship headed to Europe to study in Romania, when it was announced over the public address system that Poland had been invaded and WWII had begun. The ship was able to safely maneuver its way back to Nova Scotia, where they traveled by train to be reunited with relatives in the United States. After graduating from high school, Dolly attended the University of St. Mary in Leavenworth, KS, where at a social event with soldiers from Fort Leavenworth, she met her first husband, Charles Raezer. They got married and soon son Michael was born. 1st Lieutenant Raezer was deployed to Europe and, sadly, lost his life in the Battle of the Bulge.
Eventually Dolly returned to Wheeling, WV, to live with her parents, and enrolled at WV University where she completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and Biology. It was at WVU that she met graduate student Aaron H. Rapking, Jr. They were married on November 27, 1946, and over the next 16 years were blessed with five daughters. During this time, the young family first lived in Morgantown, WV, then moved to St. Albans, WV, and finally to Charleston, WV. When the youngest girls were a bit older, Dolly went to work as a Library Assistant for the Kanawha County Public Library in Charleston, WV. Additional career advancement required a master’s degree in Information Science, so at age 46, and with the full support of her family, Dolly attended Catholic University in Washington, DC, even living in the residence hall! Upon graduation, Dolly obtained a position with the WV Library Commission as Director of Services for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in coordination with the Library of Congress, and also oversaw the Library Services for the WV Prisons and Penitentiaries. During this time, she was active at Christ Church United Methodist in Charleston, WV, and also served a term as President of the Pilot Club of Charleston.
She retired from the Library Commission in 1983, and she and Aaron moved to Palm Harbor, FL, to live near her mother and brothers. While there, Dolly got involved in the Auxiliary for the Mease Hospital in Dunedin, FL, and served a term as the President of the Auxiliary. In 1998, Dolly and Aaron moved to NJ to be near to many of their children and found a home in the Princeton Windrows community. Dolly kept herself busy with reading, caring for her home, making wonderful friends throughout the Windrows community, and keeping up with her large family. She will be sorely missed.
A private celebration of her life was held with her family and close friends. Memorial donations to the Rapking Family Scholarship Fund may be sent to the Advancement Office, WV Wesleyan College, 59 College Avenue, Buckhannon, WV, 26201, or online donations may be made at wvwc.edu.
Arrangements are under the direction of Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton.
Carol J. Barkann
Carol J. Barkann, of Princeton, passed away at her home on Monday May 17, 2021, at the age of 90.
Born in Newark, Mrs. Barkann was a former resident of East Brunswick. She was a graduate of Syracuse University and was an associate professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology for 18 years before retiring.
Wife of the late Jeremy Barkann, she is survived by a daughter Susan Barkann, two sons Michael (Ellen) Barkann and Peter Barkann (Julie Szukalski), and three grandchildren: Emily, Matthew, and Phoebe.
Private funeral services and burial will be held at Cedar Park Cemetery in Paramus, New Jersey.
The family respectfully requests memorial contributions to The Barkann Family Healing Hearts Foundation (thebarkannfoundation.org).
To send condolences to the family, please visit Carol’s obituary page at OrlandsMemorialChapel.com.