Fred Hargadon, who admitted a generation of students to Princeton University as dean of admission from 1988 to 2003, died at his home in Princeton on Wednesday night. He was 80.
Hargadon, who was once called “the dean of deans” by The New York Times, was a national leader in the field of college admissions. At Princeton, he was known for the personal attention he paid to each applicant and for his active engagement in the life of the campus. His acceptance letters were legendary for beginning with the single word “YES!” — a phrase now carved in stone in front of Hargadon Hall, the Whitman College dormitory named in his honor.
“Fred Hargadon was a legendary figure in the lives of thousands of Princetonians who will never forget the life-changing moment when they received his famed ‘YES!’ letter,” Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber said. “Fred’s standing as a national leader in the field of college admissions was well deserved. Princeton benefited greatly from the attention and care he paid to each application in shaping extraordinary classes for 15 years, and Fred built lasting relationships with those students through his enthusiastic engagement in campus life. I am happy that the beautiful Hargadon Hall stands as a testament to his tremendous impact on this University.”
Hargadon spent more than 35 years working in college admissions. He worked to make the admission process fair and equitable, and to demystify the often-stressful experience for students and parents. While Hargadon was at Princeton, the undergraduate student body became more diverse and the University adopted its landmark 2001 no-loan financial aid policy.
“Dean Fred,” as students called him, was appreciated on campus for his wisdom, wit, and energy.
“Fred Hargadon came to Princeton in 1988 as the dean of all admission deans, a reputation he enhanced significantly during 15 years of outstanding leadership at Princeton,” said former Dean of the College Nancy Malkiel, who led the search committee that recommended Hargadon and to whom Hargadon reported.
Malkiel continued: “From the Class of 1993 to the Class of 2007, he received — and read — some 207,900 applications, and he sent his signature ‘YES!’ letters to 17,400 lucky admits. When students matriculated at Princeton, he quickly demonstrated that he knew them personally and cared about them as individuals. He taught them to take the best advantage of their opportunities at Princeton, to treat their fellow students with respect and kindness, to believe in themselves and be confident about their abilities, to be humble, and to understand the difference between what was temporarily annoying and what was profoundly important.”
Before his retirement, Hargadon was selected to deliver the Baccalaureate address to the graduating Class of 2003.
“By no means is [a Princeton diploma] meant to certify that you are now a completely educated person,” Hargadon told seniors at the time. “Rather you should consider it as hard-earned evidence that Princeton now believes that you will be well prepared to continue to educate yourselves for decades to come.”
Even after Hargadon left his position, he remained part of the University community.
“He always had an enormous connection with the students, both the ones he admitted and the ones that followed,” said his son Andy Hargadon. “He was interested in their growth and development over the years. You could always count on him to be at some sporting or cultural event on campus each weekend.”
Prior to coming to Princeton, Hargadon was a senior officer at the College Board. He served as dean of admission at Stanford University from 1969 to 1984, and held the same position at Swarthmore College from 1964 to 1969.
His enthusiasm for and knowledge of college admissions made Hargadon a leader in the field. On his appointment to Princeton in 1988, he called admission “one of the most interesting jobs in a university.” A 1984 New York Times profile noted his license plate was simply “ADMITS.”
Hargadon spoke and wrote frequently on the subject of admission, including an essay in the 1989 issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly that said: “One would gather from the mail we get each year that many people view the admission process either as totally mysterious or as easy and evident. In fact, it is neither. Instead, it is complicated and complex, and if it is to be done well, enormously time-consuming.”
Lisa Dunkley, a 1983 alumna who worked in the Office of Admission from 1988 to 1994, said Hargadon’s approach to admission was “all about the applicant.”
“Fred’s approach seemed right to me: Our responsibility was to pay very sharp attention to all details and to make the playing field as even as possible for everyone, from the child of itinerant migrant farm workers to the offspring of royalty, both real and conferred,” said Dunkley, who now works in the Office of Development. “Our job was to render a reasoned opinion about how well each student took advantage of whatever resources were at his or her disposal.”
Born in 1934 in Ardmore, Pa., Hargadon had a somewhat unconventional route to college admissions. He was among the first members of his family to go to college. After high school, he worked briefly for the Atlantic Refining Co. and the post office before serving in the Army for two years. He later graduated from Haverford College, and did postgraduate work at Harvard University and Cornell University. He began his career on the political science faculty at Swarthmore.
“For his colleagues, Fred was a source of great wisdom, not only about college admissions, but about the widest range of matters of educational policy,” Malkiel said. “He was a towering presence both in physical stature and in the friendship and counsel he gave so generously.”
Hargadon is survived by brothers Bernie and John, sisters Anne and Judy, sons Steve and Andy, and grandchildren Anna, David, Kate, Caroline, and Cody.
A campus memorial service is being planned for the spring. Donations in Hargadon’s memory may be made to Princeton or Stanford universities.
Mary Thompson Wenzel
Mary Thompson Wenzel, 93, died in her sleep on December 26, 2013 at her home in Venice, Florida. From 1959 to 1980 she was a Princeton resident. Mrs. Wenzel was born in Towanda, Pa., and grew up in Bronxville, N.Y. She attended the Emma Willard School and Vassar College, where she majored in English and was an intercollegiate tennis champion. During the War she edited the acetylene welding handbook for Union Carbide in New York, where she met her future husband Orrin Wenzel. After a brief courtship the two were married in 1943.
In Princeton, Mrs. Wenzel was the Ladies Golf Champion of the Springdale Golf Club. She worked part-time for ETS writing questions for the SAT tests. She was an avid reader, public library patron, bridge champion, and crossword puzzle aficionado. She overcame her dependence on alcohol and became a life-long AA member, helping many others to stop drinking and making many friends in the process. She also gave up smoking after the Surgeon General’s Report in 1964.
Survivors include her sons, Jack of Princeton and Ted of Florence, Mont.; three grandchildren; and two great grandchildren. She was predeceased by her daughter-in-law Dominique Godet Wenzel of Princeton and her husband of 68 years, Orrin Wenzel of Venice.
Elaine Baxter Hansen, 82, died peacefully in her home in Princeton, on Friday January 10, 2014. She was the daughter of Andrew and Catherine Banker of Trenton. She was preceded in death by her brother, Andrew Banker; and her sisters, Kathryn M. Kudra, and Lorraine Steinman.
She is survived by her husband of 22 years, Col. George Hansen, MD, and her sister, Violet Jester of Washington Crossing, Pa. She was the widow of Alan G. Baxter of Princeton. She is also survived by many stepchildren, and nieces and nephews.
She was the proprietor of Les Girls Salon, a Pennsylvania landmark that first operated in Trenton and moved to Morrisville more than a half-century ago. A woman of indomitable spirit, she was strong, insightful, and always looking forward to life. She will be missed by many. Throughout the years, thousands of women and men traveled to her salon to relax and be transformed. A cancer survivor of many years, she was beacon of light and hope for many women.
Arrangements were made by FitzGerald-Sommer Funeral Home of Yardley, Pa. A private memorial service is being planned.
Dorothy “Jewel” Stiver Leback of Skillman passed away at home on January 16, 2014. Born on October 29, 1922 in New Paris, Indiana, Jewel was the daughter of the late Ora and Georgia Stiver. She was predeceased by her sisters, Carol Mills Roth, Jeri Bigler and Esther Rock Christy, her brother Stanley S. Stiver, and son-in-law Simon Sitwell of England. She is survived by her husband, Captain Warren G. Leback; three children: Warren Thomas Leback and his wife Chloe of Charlottesville, Va.; Christine Leback Sitwell of Heytesbury, England; and Karen F. Leback of Houston, Tex.; four grandchildren: Todd Leback and his wife Lisa Grove of Charlottesville, Va; Emily Leback Achin and her husband John of Lexington, Va.; Peter Leback of Houston, Tex.; and Sergey Sitwell of Heytesbury, England; and five great-grandchildren: Miles Rodi and Maude Leback of Charlottesville, Va.; and Henry, Clover, and Violet Achin of Lexington, Va.
Jewel graduated from New Paris High School in 1940 and received a General Business degree from Fort Wayne International College in Fort Wayne, Indiana. After working as a bookkeeper for Goshen Churn and Ladder, she enlisted in 1944 in the United States Coast Guard as a SPAR. Upon completing basic training in Palm Beach, Florida, she was assigned to the SPAR unit in San Francisco where she met her future husband. Her last duty station was in Ketchikan, Alaska. She was honorably discharged in 1946.
Jewel and Warren were married on January 25, 1947 in New Paris, Indiana, and began their 66 year marriage in New York City where Warren sailed for Grace Line. They also lived in Barranquilla and Cartegena, Colombia; Wyckoff, Franklin Lakes, Chatham, Princeton, and Skillman, New Jersey; New Orleans, Louisiana; Houston, Texas; and Washington, D.C. She traveled extensively with her husband throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, the Caribbean, and New Zealand.
During her life Jewel had been a deacon at Nassau Presbyterian Church, Princeton, and an active volunteer with many church groups and philanthropic organizations in New Jersey, New Orleans and Houston.
Memorial services will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, Jewel’s wish was for donations to be made to Nassau Presbyterian Church for the Dorothy Jewel Leback Deacon’s Library or to the charity of your choice. Jewel’s ashes will be buried in the New Paris Cemetery (Indiana) at a later date.
Joan Little Treiman
Joan Little Treiman, 87, of Princeton died at her home in Princeton on November 30, 2013. Born in Russell County, Kansas to the late John and the late Blanche (Bishop) Little, she was educated at Colorado Women’s College and University of Chicago. While studying in Chicago, she worked at the Orthogenic School. She met Sam Treiman in Chicago, and they married in Wichita, Kansas in 1952.
They moved to Princeton, where Sam was a professor in the physics department for many years. Joan received her EdD at Rutgers University in 1973 and worked as a psychologist in the West Windsor-Plainsboro and Montgomery Township schools. Joan was a world traveler, bird watcher, and member of numerous poetry, theatre, and book groups. She was active with the Senior Resource Center, Community Without Walls, League of Women Voters, and Audubon Society.
Joan is survived by her children Rebecca Treiman, Katherine Treiman, and Tom Treiman; their spouses Chuck McGibbon, John Britton, and Nancy Akerley; her brother John Little; her sister-in-law Janet Little, wife of her late brother Bill Little; and her grandchildren Joseph, Robert, Sarah, Eric, Anna, Greg, and Bram.
A memorial service will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at the Palmer House, 1 Bayard Lane, Princeton.
Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to the Princeton Senior Resource Center or Audubon Society.
Dr. Norma Colburn
Dr. Norma Colburn, 84, of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, formerly of Princeton, died peacefully on January 8, 2014 in Florida where she has lived since 2004. Dr. Colburn, a speech pathologist, received her bachelor’s degree at Douglass College of Rutgers University and her master’s and PhD degrees at Columbia University. She taught at Douglass College before relocating to Florida with her husband, Dr. Daniel Colburn who predeceased her in 2009. She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law Merryl and Bruce Bernstein, son and daughter-in-law Bruce and Gwendolyn Garrett Colburn, three grandsons, Jason Bernstein, Adam and Ben Colburn, and her sister Joyce Maso of Skillman, New Jersey.
Contributions may be sent in her memory to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America at (866) AFA-8484 or Hospice of Palm Beach County at (561) 303-2381.
Francis S. “Booper” Davison Jr., 54, passed away suddenly on Wednesday, January 8, 2014.
Born in Princeton, he was a lifelong resident. Predeceased by his father Francis S. “Sam” Davison and his father-in-law Thomas J. Procaccino, he is survived by his wife, of thirty years, Ann Procaccino Davison, daughter Sara, sons Ryan and Scott, his mother Alice “Betty” Davison, his mother-in law Mary Agnes Procaccino, sisters-in-law Maria Delaney, Claire Allen and their families, many aunts, uncles, cousins, and dear friends.
He was a 34 year member of the Princeton Fire Department Engine Company #1. He was also a 34-year member of UA Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 9.
The funeral was held at 10 a.m. on Monday, January 13, 2014 at the Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, 40 Vandeventer Avenue, Princeton. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at 11 a.m. at St. Paul’s Church, 214 Nassau Street, Princeton. Burial followed in the Princeton Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, North Harrison Street, Princeton, or St. Vincent de Paul Society, St. Paul’s Parish, 214 Nassau Street, Princeton.
Janet Adams Fearon
Janet Adams Fearon, 74, of Princeton, New Jersey, died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones on January 17, 2014.
Mrs. Fearon was born January 27, 1939 to Margaret Baker Adams and the Reverend Doctor Arthur Merrihew Adams. She is survived by her husband of 53 years, the Reverend Doctor H. Dana Fearon, III, their children Prof. James D. Fearon (Teal Derrer), and Mrs. Mary Fearon Jack (Wellborn Jack, III), and her five grandchildren, Benjamin and Sadie Fearon, and William, Spencer, and Sarah Jack. Her brother, the Reverend Doctor Robert Merrihew Adams lives in Princeton with his wife, the Reverend Doctor Marilyn McCord Adams.
In her early years Mrs. Fearon lived in Philadelphia, and in Albany and Rochester, New York. She graduated from Columbia School for Girls in 1956 and enrolled at Wellesley College, where she majored in history. After graduating in 1960, she moved, as a new bride, to Lawrenceville, New Jersey, where her husband was installed as the minister of the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville. Her contributions to that church were legion. She involved herself in numerous bible study groups, served as a Sunday school and vacation bible school teacher for many years, sang in the choir, and was a member of “Create and Relate.” She was a valued member of the church’s Women’s Association, where she established many meaningful lifelong friendships. She took on many projects including developing affordable daycare and housing for low income families in Lawrence Township, creating a memorial garden at the Church, and redesigning meeting rooms, kitchens, and offices. A natural architect, she particularly enjoyed serving on planning committees for the buildings and grounds. Her ability to translate ideas into concrete building plans while maintaining the historical integrity of the buildings was greatly appreciated.
Mrs. Fearon believed passionately in the importance of education. She helped found the Church’s weekday nursery school and taught there for 13 years. In 1979, she began a career in Princeton as the founding director of the Charlotte Wilson Newcombe Foundation, whose grants have funded programs of scholarship and fellowship support for many thousands of college and university students. Mrs. Fearon found lasting satisfaction in the foundation’s mission of supporting a college education for young women and men who otherwise would not be able to afford one. She led the foundation until her retirement in 2007, and served as founding trustee until her death.
A long time member of the Women’s Club of Lawrenceville, Mrs. Fearon served as president of the club and as chair of the Mary Darwin Heath Scholarship committee. She was an active member and leader of the Wellesley Club of Princeton, and for many years dedicated her time to the Wellesley-Bryn Mawr book sale.
Known for her cheerful friendliness and hospitality, Mrs. Fearon delighted in meeting and getting to know people. She reached out to all, providing a listening ear and perceptive insight. Her kind understanding, gentle manner, and eagerness to help others came through in both brief encounters and lengthy discussions. She possessed an unfailingly positive outlook and when faced with adversity, readily found productive solutions. Her generosity of spirit and graciousness were strong, true, and deep.
A woman of abundant energy, Mrs. Fearon loved a challenge, whether it was a design project or the creation of a foundation. She had a remarkable intellect and curious mind. She read avidly, with a passion for history.
For several decades Mrs. Fearon spent part of the summer in Big Moose Lake, New York. She loved the Adirondack mountains, lakes, and landscape. She enjoyed canoeing and boating on Big Moose Lake and walking its trails; here she found herself truly relaxed and with full heart. In her later years, she enjoyed summer vacations in Hyannis Port and West Barnstable, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. These were highlighted by wonderful visits of family and friends. In her spare time she enjoyed playing tennis, golf, and mah-jong with a group of longtime friends.
Mrs. Fearon often said that she felt blessed to have lived a life filled with love, kindness, faith, dear friends, meaningful work, and a close, loving family. She adored her children and grandchildren, and she delighted in an enduring, happy, and loving marriage to her greatest friend and champion. She will be dearly missed by many.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 11 a.m. at The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Fearon Fund at The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, 2688 Main Street, Lawrenceville, N.J. 08648.