Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 9
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
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Jack Cooper

Irene Bender

Penelope M. Peter

Bevin Smith

Donald Meisel

Anthony R. Turner

June R. Lewis

Katharine Higgins

Mary Applegate

Jack Cooper

Jack Cooper

The Rev. Dr. Jack Cooper, 90, formerly of Princeton, died peacefully February 20 at Pennswood Village, Newtown, Pa.

Born in Baltimore, he spent his childhood and youth on Staten Island, N.Y. as a member of a family of 12 children. He attended public schools and graduated in 1940 from Wagner College with a BA in History. In 1943, he received a ThB from Princeton Theological Seminary and enlisted in the Navy Chaplains Corps, serving in the Pacific Theatre on Peleliu Island. After World War II he was enabled by the GI Bill to study at the University of Edinburgh, where he received his PhD.

On his return to the States, he was called to serve as pastor of two churches in upstate New York, Wadervilet First Presbyterian from 1948 to 1951 and the State Street Presbyterian Church in Schenectady from 1951 to 1958. He was selected by the Albany Presbytery to be its first General Presbyter from 1958 to 1964. He was then called by Princeton Theological Seminary to organize and establish its Center for Continuing Education, where he remained until his retirement in 1984. In retirement he served interim pastorates and as a supply minister for several churches in New Brunswick and Elizabeth, and continued his participation on numerous presbytery committees. From 1991 to 1998, he led Sunday morning worship services at Pennswood Village.

While living in the Princeton area, Dr. Cooper was active in numerous civic committees including the Family Service Agency and United Way. He was a member and past president of the Princeton Rotary and received the Paul Harris Fellow Award. He was a Rotarian for more than 60 years.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Jean Ritchie Cooper; their four children, Dawn Rosso, Deborah Kruesi, John Cooper, and Ruth Sawin; and five grandchildren.

Memorial services will be held March 15 at 2 p.m. at the Miller Chapel, Princeton Theological Seminary.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimers Association, Delaware Valley Chapter, 399 Market Street, Suite 102, Philadelphia, Pa. 19106.

Irene Bender

Irene Bender

Irene Bender, 88, of Skillman, died February 17 at Stonebridge at Montgomery in Skillman. She was the wife of the late Jacob Bender, and her first husband, the late Edwin P. Flanagan.

Born in Passaic, she was the daughter of the late Alexander and Celina Zaratkiewicz.

Before attending Penn State University, she worked as an assistant to Allen DuMont, founder of DuMont Laboratories and the Dumont television network, known as “the fourth network.” She also worked for Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, and for Willson Products in Reading. Later, she became an employment relations representative for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

An avid golfer, world traveler, and reader, Mrs. Bender passed her love of adventure and literature on to her children and grandchildren.

Predeceased by a brother, Edwin Zaratkiewicz, she is survived by two daughters, Diane Zipperstein of Princeton and Barbara Flanagan of Bethlehem, Pa.; a sister, Florence Weiss; and five grandchildren.

The family is planning a celebration of her life for family and friends this spring, in Princeton.

Arrangements are by the Long Funeral Home, Bethlehem, Pa. Online condolences may be made at

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the literacy charity of the donor’s choice.

Penelope M. Peter

Penelope M. Peter

Penelope M. Peter, 71, of Princeton and Southampton, N.Y., died February 26 at the University Medical Center at Princeton after a long illness.

Known to her friends and family as “Penny,” she was born in New York City to the late Thomas and Sarah Meade McDermott.

She was a graduate of Marymount College in New York and an elementary school teacher in Montreal, Quebec and New York City.

In 1964 she moved with her husband to Princeton where she began her second career raising her four sons.

She was a past member at Bedens Brook Club, Pretty Brook Tennis Club, and the Southampton Yacht Club. She was at her best when with her friends and family regaling them with her “over the top” stories about recent events in her life and in the lives of others.

She is survived by her husband of 49 years, Dr. William J. Peter; four sons, Jonathan T. Peter, William J. Peter Jr., Christopher E. Peter, and Cornelius M. Peter; her twin sister, Patricia M. Carey; and eight grandchildren.

A memorial mass was celebrated March 3 at the Aquinas Institute, 65 Stockton Street, Princeton.

Bevin Smith

Bevin Smith, 90, of Princeton, died February 19 of respiratory failure in the nursing facility at Stonebridge at Montgomery, where he was a resident.

Born in Montclair, New Jersey, the only son of Ralph B. and Lilian D. Smith, he grew up in New York and received his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University.

Joining the Army Air Corps, he served in the Signal Corps in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, he made his career in publishing, working with McGraw-Hill and later Medical Economics for many years. His local interests included politics and the Carnegie Sailing Club.

In 1942, he married Elizabeth Braxton Dichman, who predeceased him in May 2004. He is survived by three sons, Robinson of Brooklyn, N.Y., Grattan of Greensboro, Vt., and Warren of Rhinebeck, N.Y.; a daughter, Caroline, of Kullavic, Sweden; and three grandchildren.

A memorial service will be announced for a later date.

Donald Meisel

Donald Meisel

The Reverend Dr. Donald Meisel, the former senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Princeton, died February 23. He served in Princeton from 1960 to 1973, a period he referred to as the “quiet years.” During his tenure he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. across the Edmond Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama, and was an active leader in the civil rights and anti-poverty movements. He preached at the Thanksgiving Service days after President Kennedy was shot, convened the community in front of the church after Dr. King was assassinated, and worked with Mayor Gibson of Newark during the height of that city’s riots.

Born in humble surroundings, Rev. Meisel was the son of the WPA Parks director in St. Paul, Minnesota. He grew up a block away from his classmate Charles Shultz of Peanuts fame. Despite the competition, he was named “most likely to succeed” in his senior class at St. Paul Central High School.

The Rev. Meisel first came to Princeton as an undergraduate as part of the U.S. Navy’s V-12 Officer Training Program. After being sent back to his hometown to finish his undergraduate degree at Macalester College, he returned to Princeton where he attended Princeton Theological Seminary while participating in the Navy’s chaplaincy program. He went on to do graduate work at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and served in churches in Rahway and Millburn/Short Hills before accepting the call to Princeton’s First Presbyterian Church. Soon after his departure, First Presbyterian and St. Andrew’s Presbyterian began conversations that led to an eventual merger of the two congregations and the establishment of the Nassau Presbyterian Church on its current site across from Palmer Square.

In 1973, Rev. Meisel left Princeton to return to his home state, but this time he moved across the river to serve a large downtown congregation in Minneapolis. At that time Westminster Presbyterian Church was located in a deteriorating neighborhood only blocks from a once thriving downtown. Over the next 20 years, Rev. Meisel made sure that the church was a “telling presence” in the planning of the future and the values of the present. In addition to renewing the buildings and the neighborhood, he pursued initiatives supporting the low-income residents of the community. Through food, housing, and heath care programs, the church helped lead and support initiatives that brought healing and hope to those who needed it most.

Despite being gone from Princeton for over 35 years, Rev. Meisel remained visible in the Princeton community, often returning to the church and to Princeton Theological Seminary, where he served a term on the board of trustees.

He was predeceased by his wife, Eleanor Williams Meisel. He is survived by three sons, Don Jr. of Lawrence, Wayne of Princeton, and Timothy of Boston; a daughter, Nancy Meisel of Minneapolis; and nine grandchildren.

A memorial service will be conducted at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 21 at Nassau Presbyterian Church.

Anthony R. Turner

Anthony Ray “Tony” Turner, 43, of Hamden, Conn., formerly of Princeton, died February 24 at Yale New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Conn.

Born in Newark, he was a resident of Princeton for 23 years, graduating from Princeton High School. He also attended Wilkes College in Wilkes Barre, Pa. and DeVry University of New Brunswick. He relocated to Hamden over 20 years ago and was employed as a sales representative by Honeywell, Inc.

Mr. Turner was a member of Community Baptist Church of New Haven where he served as head of the Young Men’s Ministries.

Predeceased by his father, William Turner Sr., he is survived by his wife, Vilandria Turner; two daughters, Brittany and Breanna Turner, both of Hamden; his mother, Emma Atkins-Turner of Princeton; a brother, William H. Turner Jr. of Dayton, N.J.; two sisters, Wendy Turner of Morrisville, Pa. and Sandra Turner of Trenton; and a close friend, Eddie Rice of Ewing.

The funeral service was March 2 at First Baptist Church, John Street and Paul Robeson Place. Interment was at Franklin Memorial Park Cemetery, North Brunswick.

Memorial contributions may be sent to the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, 70 Audubon Street, New Haven, Conn. 06510.

Arrangements were by the Anderson Funeral Home, Trenton.

June R. Lewis

June R. Lewis, 86, died peacefully February 25 at the Stonebridge retirement community in Montgomery. She was the wife of John P. Lewis, emeritus professor of Princeton University.

Mrs. Lewis was a native of Lebanon, New Hampshire, where she attended high school. She attended Plymouth State University.

She met her husband in San Francisco while both were serving in the U.S. Navy. They met in March 1946 and were married at Union College, Prof. Lewis’s alma mater, in July 1946.

Mrs. Lewis traveled widely with her husband, mainly for two episodes in India, first in 1959-60 and then in the mid-1960s while Prof. Lewis was the director of USAID in India. They also lived in France from 1979 to 1981 while Prof. Lewis was the resident chairman of OECD’s Development Assistance Committee.

They moved to Princeton in 1969, where Prof. Lewis was the Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.

Mrs. Lewis was a gifted artist who had an avid interest in nature and wildlife. She was predeceased by a daughter, Amanda, in August 2008. She is survived by two daughters, Betsy and Sally; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

The funeral service was February 28 at The Mather Hodge Funeral Home. Burial followed in Ten Mile Run Cemetery in Franklin Township.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the World Wildlife Federation or the Audubon Society.

Katharine Higgins

Katharine C. Higgins, 86, died Monday, March 2, at Buckingham Place in Princeton.

Born in Princeton, she was a lifelong resident, and a graduate of Princeton High School, Class of 1941. She retired in 1993 as a secretary for Alderman & Click after 40 years of service. She was a member of the Gataway Club.

Daughter of the late James J. and Julia F. (Brady) Higgins, sister of the late James J. Higgins, Jr., she is survived by a brother Robert J. Higgins of Princeton, a nephew, a niece, a great niece, and a great nephew.

A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 10, at St. Paul’s Church, 214 Nassau Street, Princeton. Burial will follow in St. Paul’s Cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of The Mather-Hodge Funeral Home.

Mary Applegate

Mary Agnes Fuller Applegate died on March 1 at the University Medical Center at Princeton. Born January 17, 1917, in Marion, Kentucky, she was the third born of eight children of Ambie Moore Fuller and T.N. Fuller. As a child, she enjoyed life in Frances, a unique farming community in western Kentucky, where she helped on the family farm, enjoyed riding horses and exploring nature. She also enjoyed music, singing in the church choir and playing the piano. The central features of the village were the Frances School, a Presbyterian Church and the Lafayette spar mine operation that provided good paying jobs and electricity to the community.

Educated in the Frances Schools and at Murray State University, she returned to teach elementary school in Frances in 1939. During a visit to the area in 2003 she met with some former students who shared memories and mementoes with their teacher.

She met her husband, Lewis R. Applegate, in college. They married in 1941 in Asbury Park, N.J. In 1947, after a series of moves due to wartime, the couple settled permanently in Princeton, where she raised three children. Though her primary focus was homemaking, she taught at the Kingston School in the early 1950s. Her talents included oil painting, sewing, gardening, and cooking. She also wrote a memoir, The Things I Didn’t Learn in Kindergarten, about her early experiences in rural Kentucky. A long-time member of Nassau Presbyterian Church, she was a member of the Present Day Club. She is survived by three of her siblings, Marjorie Fox, William Fuller and Hazel Miles, as well as her three children, Ridge Applegate, Connie Schatz, and Judy Strand; a daughter-in-law, Olivia Applegate, and son-in-law, Jack Strand, five grandchildren and four great grandchildren. She will be greatly missed.

A viewing will be held from 10 to 11:30am on Friday, March 6, at the Kimble Funeral Home, One Hamilton Avenue in Princeton, followed by burial at Trinity-All Saints Cemetery. A memorial service will be held at the Niles Chapel of the Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton at 3 p.m.

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