Martin Almas Chooljian
Martin Almas Chooljian, 90, of Princeton, New Jersey, passed away on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 from complications related to the congestive heart failure he had battled for the past four years. Until his last few days he was able to remain at his residence in the care of his devoted caretaker, Brenda Stewart.
Martin was born April 18, 1930 in Haverhill, Massachusetts, as the fourth and youngest child of Manoog and Almas Chooljian. His father owned a confectionery as well as residential rental properties. The Great Depression had a lasting effect on Martin as it battered the family’s finances. He would later recall how the local bank worked with his parents to save their rental units. Early on, Martin learned the importance of hard work and education to move ahead in the world and he spent several summers working for the Haverhill Parks Department before graduating from Haverhill High School as the class of 1948 valedictorian. Martin then attended Harvard University on a scholarship where he received both his B.S. degree as an economics major in 1952 and his M.B.A. in 1954. While at Harvard Business School he met his future wife Helen, and they were married on April 16, 1955.
The couple spent their next few years in Dayton, Ohio, where Martin was serving for two years as a Procurement Officer in the United States Air Force, HQ Air Material Command with the official rank of First Lieutenant. Their first child Anne was born here in August of 1956.
Martin next moved his young family to Palo Alto, California, after accepting a job at Litton Industries where he served as Treasurer from 1958-1964. In August of 1959 a second daughter, Cynthia, was welcomed by the family.
In the summer of 1964 the family moved to Princeton where son Andrew was born in December of 1965. Martin and his best friend from childhood, Dana Hamel, started their own business, Penn Corporation, and felt that Princeton was the ideal location for a corporate office with its proximity to the two major cities of New York and Philadelphia. As President and Director of the company Martin presided over several years of growth as the original Penn Champ manufacturing facility in Butler, Pennsylvania, was joined by Beach Products in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a paper products company that boasted the exclusive license for the Disney paper tableware line. Ritepoint, a pen and writing instruments company was the next company to enter the fold, and finally Vitronic, an advertising specialties company located in the Ozarks of Missouri was the last company to be part of the Penn Corporation conglomerate.
In 1985 the partners received an offer for their company that they could not refuse but they remained together at the same office location and founded CH Capital Corporation. Martin as President invested for various family members. The company was closed in late 2019 and Martin was proud of the fact that he was the longest lease holder of any tenant at One Palmer Square in the heart of Princeton.
Martin had many interests outside of his businesses. He was an avid walker who covered between seven and ten miles daily until the last few years of his life. His favorite walking companion was Baron, his much loved and spoiled Pembroke Welsh Corgi. He enjoyed reading the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on a daily basis, traveling, cooking, flying his Beechcraft Baron as an instrument rated pilot, deep sea fishing, skiing in Vail, Colorado and Alta, Utah, and playing tennis.
He thrived in the vast intellectual wealth of Princeton and Princeton was enhanced by his involvement in many of its local organizations. Martin and Helen were longtime members of the Nassau Club and Bedens Brook Club. They were also longstanding members and contributors to All Saints’ Episcopal Church. In addition they were major supporters of Trinity Counseling and the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad. The two organizations they had the strongest affiliations with were the McCarter Theatre and the Institute for Advanced Study. At McCarter Martin served as a Trustee and Treasurer from 1987-1994 and was named an Honorary Trustee in 1995. While serving he helped with the Phase II renovation of the Mathews Theatre. In 1992 Martin and Helen joined the Friends of the Institute for Advanced Study where they became enthusiastic supporters. Martin was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1997 and made significant contributions while serving on the Audit, Finance, Academic Affairs, Building, Development, and Public Affairs committees. After 13 years in this role Martin was named as a Trustee Emeritus. In appreciation of his service and philanthropy he was named an honorary lifetime member of the Friends Executive committee in 2016.
Martin was preceded in death by his beloved wife Helen, his two sisters, Sally Walden and Vars Adamian, and his brother Robert Chooljian. He is survived by daughter Anne Chooljian and longtime companion Raul Najar; daughter Cynthia Jost and son-in-law Dan Jost; son Andrew Martin Chooljian and daughter-in-law Laurel Chooljian; Brenda Stewart, loving caretaker and companion to Martin and Helen for 18 years; honorary grandchildren, Dr. Ingrid Stewart, Tyrone Taylor, Dr. Elizabeth Taylor, Dr. Rebecca Taylor, Joshua Taylor; and finally his honorary great-granddaughter, Stony Taylor.
Martin will always be remembered for his smile, kindness, great intellect, love of dogs, and his lifetime commitment to philanthropy. Most of all he will be remembered for his devotion to his family and especially to his wife Helen who he adored. He will be forever in the hearts of his family, numerous friends, and the Princeton community.
Private cremation was held and a memorial service celebrating Martin’s life will be held at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 16 All Saints’ Road, Princeton, New Jersey on Saturday September 11, 2021 at 11:30 a.m. to be followed by a reception at the Bedens Brook Club at 240 Rolling Hill Road Skillman, New Jersey.
Arrangements are under the direction of Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton.
John J. Wise
John J. Wise, a retired Vice President-Research at Mobil Research and Development Corporation for 44 years, died on Sunday, June 13, 2021 in Princeton, NJ. The cause was complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on February 28, 1932.
John graduated from Tufts University with a BS in Chemical Engineering and from MIT with a PhD in Chemistry. He worked at the forefront of commercialization of new technology for all facets of the petroleum industry ranging from how to find oil in the ground to making finished fuels and lubricants. He was responsible for the development and commercialization in New Zealand of technology for the conversion of natural gas into gasoline, a major advance of synthetic fuel technology. He also developed new technology now widely used for the production of the chemical intermediates for manufacturing polyester and styrene. He co-chaired a study between the auto and oil industries that developed information in a massive multi-year research study on how to minimize air pollution by reformulating gasoline and diesel fuel. This data was used by the EPA to set fuel standards used to implement the Clean Air Act. He was also recognized for his work as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
He received the Gold Medal from the Industrial Research Institute for excellence in research management. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.
John married the late Rosemary Seary Bishop in 1967. They lived in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Texas, and then Princeton, NJ.
He is survived by his two daughters, Susannah Scovil Wise and Jean Porter Wise, and one grandson, Alexander Wise Philbrick. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to LIFE Inc, 550 Lincoln Road Extension, Hyannis, MA 02601.
Arrangements are under the direction of The Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton.
Ruth Virginia Reynolds
Ruth Virginia Reynolds, “Virginia,” died peacefully on June 7, 2021. She was the loving wife of George T. Reynolds who predeceased her after 62 years of marriage. Daughter of Kenneth and Ruth Rendall, Virginia was appropriately born in Virginia 99 years ago.
During the first few years of Virginia’s life, the family traveled the country, as her father was playing tackle on one of the first professional football teams. They settled in Highland Park, NJ, when she was two, and she was soon joined by her loving brother Ken Jr.
After an active high school career, Virginia attended the New Jersey College for Women, now Douglass College. She was interested in children’s literature, and in that she became an expert. Combining her love of books with teaching, she enjoyed 20 years as head of the Lower School Library at Princeton Day School. Teachers would sometimes send troublemakers to that library to be “straightened up,” so calming and safe was that space. She worked in public libraries in Brooklyn and Trenton before marriage and afterward at the Churchill College Library (Cambridge) while on leave from PDS. She was also a volunteer on the Princeton Public Library Council and Board of the Friends.
Virginia was an accomplished storyteller, holding countless children and adults in spellbinding, delighted wonder with her presentations. She was also interested in art and was a highly respected docent at the Princeton University Art Museum.
Newlywed at age 21 Virginia and George, a physicist, spent most of the war years together at Los Alamos, until he left for the Pacific. She was initially denied residence on “The Hill” as she was not involved with the project. Saved by her degree in Library Science and George’s brash insistence, Virginia was allowed residency and worked there in the Library of Secrets.
Virginia made friends far and wide, from hometown Princeton (since 1946) to her beloved summer location in Woods Hole (since 1963) with its varied communities in marine science, arts, paddle tennis, and sailing. During several scattered years of sabbaticals in London, Cambridge, and Oxford, Virginia expanded her interests and circles of friends.
She traveled extensively in the UK, Europe, Turkey, Kenya, and Central America. Returning from a literary conference in Hawaii, she adopted a new name within the family, TuTu, Hawaiian for grandmother. And so, now as TuTu, she bestowed her knowledge and love onto her grandchildren, Justin, Ian, Allie, Jamie, Caroline, and Paige. Her brightest days over the last few years were seeing her great-grandchildren, Liva, Elijah, and Sophie-Morgan.
Virginia met any challenge with quiet optimism and an expectation of enjoyment. She and George raised four sons, Tom, Richard, Rob, and David. Above all, Virginia embodied a loving daughter, sister, wife, mother, mother-in-law (Marianne, Mary, Kris, and Pam), and grandmother.
Having had a modest upbringing, dampened by the Great Depression, Virginia always maintained caring and respect for all, making friends and inspiring confidence in those fortunate enough to meet her ready smile, which never left her. She coupled these values with a healthy dose of fun seeking and the occasional flash of mischievousness. She will be greatly missed.
The family have many to thank, particularly the staff at Stonebridge at Montgomery, for making the past several years ones of comfort and contentment.
Donations in Virginia’s memory may be made to All Saints’ Church of Princeton, 16 All Saints Road, Princeton, NJ 08540.
Arrangements are under the direction of Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton.
William L. Joyce
William L. Joyce (Bill), of West Windsor, New Jersey, a retired archivist and research libraries administrator, died on June 6, 2021, from cancer. He was 79.
The funeral service will be held on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 at 11 a.m. at the Church of St. David the King in West Windsor, New Jersey. Visitation will be held at the Chapel of the Church from 4 to 7 p.m. on Monday June 28, 2021.
Bill was born in Rockville Centre, Long Island on March 29, 1942 and grew up in Freeport, New York. A 1960 graduate of Freeport High School, he received a bachelor’s degree in 1964 from Providence College, a master’s degree in 1966 from St. John’s University, and a Ph.D. in 1974 from the University of Michigan.
Bill worked primarily as a rare books and special collections librarian, curator, and administrator. He started his career as a manuscripts librarian at the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan. Beginning in 1972, he served as Curator of Manuscripts and later Education Officer at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts. After moving back to the New York area in 1981, Bill began as the Assistant Director for Rare Books and Manuscripts at the New York Public Library. He then became the Associate University Librarian for Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton University in 1986. This was followed by his appointment as the Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair for Special Collections and Head, Special Collections at the Pennsylvania State University from 2000-2010.
Bill’s most important public contribution was his service on the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board. The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 created the Assassination Records Review Board as an independent agency to re-examine for release any assassination-related records that federal agencies continued to regard as too sensitive to open to the public. President Clinton appointed Bill to the five member Board in 1993 and he was confirmed by the Senate in April 1994. The Board finished its work in September 1998, issued a final report, and transferred all of its records to the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington.
During his retirement, Bill’s commitment to scholarship and public education led him to create two charitable funds to support these goals. The first, is the John Higham Research Fellowship awarded annually by the Organization of American Historians. The fellowship is named for Bill’s mentor at the University of Michigan, John Higham. It supports graduate students writing doctoral dissertations in American history. The second charitable fund is the William L. and Carol B. Joyce Historical Collections and Labor Archives Program Endowment for the University Libraries at The Pennsylvania State University. Its purpose is to support and enhance the Historical Collections and Labor Archives of the Eberly Family Special Collections Library at Penn State University.
Bill is survived by his wife of 53 years, Carol Bertani Joyce; his daughter and her husband, Susan and Oliver Köster; his son, Michael Joyce; his grandchildren, Alexander, Charlotte, and Marie-Louise; his sister-in-law Jacqui Joyce; his sisters and their spouses, Rosemary and David Spencer and Kathleen and Tom Sullivan; as well as many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Any memorial donations may be given to the two funds referred to above that Bill and Carol created to support scholarship and public education. Online memorial donations to the John Higham Fellowship can be made at: https://secure.oah.org/store, by checking the box “Make a donation,” completing the contact information, and selecting a donation amount. On the page where the donor inputs the donation amount, there is a drop-down box “Donation Fund Designation,” please select “Other” and indicate Higham Fund in the box immediately below. Donations are also accepted via mail to: Organization of American Historians, 112 N. Bryan Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47408; or by phone at (812) 855-9836. Any memorial donations to the William and Carol Joyce Endowment at Penn State may be made to: The Pennsylvania State University, 510 Paterno Library, University Park, PA 16802. Please indicate the “William and Carol Joyce Endowment” in the memo line.
Cantor David S. Wisnia
Cantor David S. Wisnia, 94, passed away on Tuesday, June 15, 2021.
David Wisnia was a vocalist, composer, educator, and beloved community leader. Later in life, he would use his powerful baritone to share with the world his remarkable tale of surviving the Holocaust through story and song, tracing his harrowing journey from young Polish singing star to Auschwitz prisoner to American liberator with the 101st Airborne. Cantor Wisnia’s remarkable singing voice helped save him in the Nazi concentration camp.
David was born in the town of Sochaczew, Poland, on August 31, 1926. He was a star student of the Yavneh-Tarbut Hebrew School System and he had mastered multiple languages — including German, French, Yiddish, and Hebrew — by the age of 10. He received vocal training as a pupil of director/composer Maestro A.Z. Davidovich. David also learned from renowned Cantors Gershon Sirota and Moshe Koussevitsky, mentors who taught him how to blend Jewish tradition with an operatic style.
As young David’s singing career began to flourish, he and his family — father Eliahu, mother Machla, older brother Moshe and younger brother Dov — moved to the capital city of Warsaw. David was soon performing in synagogues, in theaters, and on Polish radio. But on September 1st, 1939, Germany invaded Poland and soon after, the local Jewish population was forced into a small section of the city that would become the Warsaw Ghetto. One day, David returned home to find his father, mother, and younger brother murdered by the Nazi SS. David’s older brother had escaped the ghetto but was never seen again. Eventually David was captured and taken by cattle-car to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
David was a prisoner of Auschwitz for close to three years. He stayed alive by singing to entertain the Nazi guards and cell block leaders. While in the notorious death camp, he composed two songs that became popular with the inmates. One song is in Polish, “Oswiecim” (Auschwitz), and the other in Yiddish, “Dos Vaise Haizele” (The Little White House In The Woods), is now on display at the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. After being transferred to Dachau and surviving a Death March in December 1944, David managed to escape into the nearby woods. He was soon found and rescued by the American 101st Airborne Division. Joining with the 506th Parachute Infantry, he was adopted as their “Little Davey” and was able to put his language skills to work as an interpreter. He engaged actively in combat during the closing days of the war with Germany in 1945, transforming from a survivor to a liberator.
When the army brought him back with them to the United States in 1946, David set about building a new life in New York City. He began selling encyclopedias for the Wonderland of Knowledge company, eventually rising in the ranks to Vice President of Sales. He worked hard to support his wife, Hope, and their four children. He traveled often, but he always made sure to be home in time for Friday night Shabbat dinner — just as his father Eliahu had done for his family back in Sochaczew.
When the family moved to Pennsylvania, David and Hope helped grow a new thriving Jewish community in the Bucks County area. David served as Cantor of Temple Shalom in Levittown, PA, for 28 years, and then as Cantor for Har Sinai Hebrew Congregation of Trenton, NJ for 23 years. After retiring, he remained an active part of the community, teaching classes on cantilation and Hebrew language, leading communities in prayer, and performing countless baby namings, bar/bat mitzvah ceremonies, weddings, and funerals around the country. David also became a member of the American Conference of Cantors within the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
David would go on to perform internationally, singing in Buenos Aires’ Libertad Synagogue, Israel’s Yad Vashem, and Warsaw’s Nozik Synagogue (1986) where he officiated at the first formal Bar Mitzvah ceremony to be held in Poland since World War II – the same synagogue where Wisnia sang as a choir boy over 70 years prior. David also performed concert tours with his grandson, singer/songwriter and pianist Avi Wisnia. Most recently, David returned to Poland to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz at a 2020 event attended by concentration camp survivors and prominent heads of state, which was televised to an international audience of millions. He frequently said that one of his greatest honors was being called up to sing the national anthem at the annual 101st Airborne Snowbird Reunion in Tampa, Florida, where veterans of World War II still called him Little Davey.
Towards the end of his life, David Wisnia found it increasingly urgent to share his experiences of living through the Holocaust. He published his memoir, “One Voice, Two Lives,” (2015) to ensure that this chapter of history will never be forgotten. His story has been featured in The New York Times, The Daily Mail, The Jewish Exponent, Buzzfeed, and in many other outlets around the world.
David led presentations about the Holocaust for audiences at synagogues, schools, and museums, and he was a frequent guest lecturer at Stockton University in New Jersey, at the invitation of Professor Douglas Cervi. David loved connecting most with students and young people, taking selfies with them, and imploring them to think about the impact they have on the world around them. When asked what he hoped the students took away from his story, he would say, “Do away with hate. Prejudice and hatred leads to death. There is a saying in the Torah: God tells Abraham ‘You shall be a Blessing’ and that is my message, that each and every one of us should ‘be a blessing.’ We should do good in this world, and be good to one another. Live a life with meaning and purpose, and leave this world a better place than when you entered it.”
David will certainly be remembered for his incredible voice, but he will also be remembered for his love of hot soup, fancy cars, and making friends with anyone and everyone he came into contact with. Husband of the late Hope Wisnia, he is survived by his two sons and daughters-in-law, Rabbi Eric and Judith Wisnia, Michael and Misa Wisnia; two daughters and sons-in-law, Karen Wisnia and Kirk Wattles, Jana and Lee Dickstein; and five grandchildren, Sara (Matthew Schiffer) and Avi Wisnia, Rachel and Ethan Dickstein, and Naomi Wattles. He was also grandfather of the late Dov Benjamin Wisnia.
David will be dearly missed by so many, but his story, his voice, and his legacy will continue to resonate from generation to generation.
Private funeral services and burial were held June 17 at King David Memorial Park, Bensalem, PA. A public memorial will be held at a later date.
For more information about David Wisnia, please visit onevoicetwolives.com.
To honor the life of Cantor David Wisnia, donations may be made to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, working to preserve the legacy of and educate about the Holocaust: http://auschwitz.org/en/donate.
To send condolences to the Wisnia family, please visit OrlandsMemorialChapel.com.