October 17, 2012

Obituaries 10/17/12

Ian Gallagher Zelazny

Ian Gallagher Zelazny, beloved son of Marian and Olek Zelazny of Lawrenceville, New Jersey, grandson of the late Helen and Henry Gallagher of Princeton, and Stanislaw and Marianna Zelazny of Czestochowa, Poland, passed away in his home in New Orleans on Thursday September 27, 2012. He is survived by his grandmother in Poland, his parents, his sisters Kaya Zelazny and Iga Chitwood, his brother-in-law Zachary Chitwood, his nephews Gregory and Gabriel Chitwood, his aunts and uncles Jane and Ann Gallagher, Wiesia and Romuald Mecmajer and Horacio Furlong, and his cousins Lilah and Clara Steece, Patrick and Andrew Furlong, and Agnieszka and Maciej Mecmajer, and by many dear friends. He was 21 years old.

Ian received his diploma from the Chapin School in 2005 and Lawrence High School in 2009. Before his untimely death, Ian attended Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and was expected to graduate in 2013. He was the beneficiary of a four-year Presidential scholarship at Tulane, where he was majoring in English and philosophy, with a minor in psychology. He was a talented and dedicated student, and was in Tulane’s honors program. Ian was an involved member of the Tulane community, acting as special events chair on the Literary Society executive staff, as a member of the juggling club, and for some time as a writer for Tulane’s student newspaper, ‘The Hullabaloo.’

Ian will be remembered as an artist-philosopher-seeker of truth, a man who lived life to the fullest and inspired those around him to do the same. He brought compassion, love, openness, and unparalleled kinship to each relationship he formed. He led a rich life — one that was far shorter than those who knew and loved him would have liked. His energy, intellect, and kindness will be sorely missed.

The Zelazny family has established the “Ian Zelazny Library Fund” at Tulane University in honor of Ian’s love of ideas and the written word. Ian’s family hopes the fund will enable a project that encompasses Ian’s love of reading, of learning, and of the warm and generous nature of New Orleans in a way that will give back to a community he appreciated deeply. In lieu of flowers and condolences, the Zelazny’s prefer donations to the Library Fund. Gifts to the fund may be sent to: Tulane University P.O. Box 61075 New Orleans, LA 70161-9986. Please put “The Ian Zelazny Library Fund” on the memo line of your check.

Alternatively, gifts can be made online at http://tulane.edu/giving/. Please specify that the gift designation is for the “Ian Zelazny Library Fund” in the “Other” box. Ian’s family is thankful for the support of family, friends, and loved ones, and hopes that the fund will channel that goodwill into a cause worthy of Ian’s memory. For further information about plans for the fund see www.ianzelazny.org.

A celebration of Ian’s life, in the form of a poetry reading, will take place at the Grounds for Sculpture at 18 Fairgrounds Road in Hamilton on Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 6 p.m. in the East Gallery. All are welcome. Participants may enjoy the grounds beforehand as our guest by registering at the entrance gate anytime that day as part of the life celebration of Ian Zelazny.


Barbara J. Suess

Barbara J. Suess, 74, died on October 5, 2012 at Stonebridge, Montgomery Township, due to complications related to frontal lobe dementia. Ms. Suess lived in Lawrenceville after spending the majority of her career as a teacher and administrator in the Department of Defense dependent schools in Germany.

An adventurous spirit, she brought respect and happiness to all she encountered in both her professional and personal life. A lover of the arts and the outdoors, an eclectic cook, Ms. Suess was someone who genuinely cared about the welfare of others.

Raised in Vineland, Ms. Suess held a bachelor’s degree from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) and a master’s degree from Montclair State College (now a University). Her 30-year-long career in education began in Fairlawn as a guidance counselor in middle school. In 1969, she joined the Department of Defense dependent schools in Frankfurt, Germany where she was the guidance counselor at the American High School. Subsequently, she became principal of several schools connected with American military bases, including Würzburg and Karlsruhe, and concluded her career as education staff developer in Wiesbaden, Germany. She had an excellent command of the German language, which gained her a reputation as an extraordinary organizer of relationships and friendships between Americans and Germans through school and community programs. Her life in Europe allowed her to pursue her passion for travel, to enjoy other cultures, and to know people from around the world.

In 1996, Ms. Suess retired from the Department of Defense with an officer rank of GS13 and continued to serve as a consultant. After her return to New Jersey, she joined the Literacy Volunteers of Mercer County, first teaching people how to read, and then as a coach, helping young volunteers become tutors. Ms. Suess lived the last 6 years of her life at Stonebridge. She faced her illness openly, and through her high intellect, excellent coping skills, and positive outlook, as well as the wonderful care and help she received from the Stonebridge staff, she lived her life with gusto and joy until her passing.

Ms. Suess is survived by her daughter Katja Suess-Nimeh (Vienna, Austria) and her three sisters Ingrid Reed (Princeton), Doris Schwartz (Okemos, Mich.), and Susan Levin (Port Hueneme, Calif.), and by her companion of the past 16 years, Rick Glazer (Lawrenceville).

She also leaves her two granddaughters, Julia and Antonia, who will have her legacy of love, laughter, caring, and joy to inspire them as do the more than 20 nieces and nephews who knew her as Aunt B. She will be greatly missed by her friends and family here and abroad.

A memorial celebration and reception for remembering Ms. Suess will be held on Saturday, November 17 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Stonebridge, on Hollinshead Spring Road in Montgomery Township.

Contributions in her memory may be made to the Literacy Volunteers of Mercer County, 3535 Quakerbridge Road, Trenton, NJ 08619.


Evelyn Wicoff

Evelyn Wicoff passed away peacefully at her home in Princeton surrounded by family on the afternoon of August 30, 2012 after a brief illness.

Born in the house built by her grandparents, John and Catharine Britton Wicoff, Evelyn was the last surviving child of John Van Buren Wicoff and Lavinia Applegate Wicoff.

Her father was a 1900 graduate of Princeton University, a Trenton lawyer, and bank president. He was a prime mover in establishing Plainsboro as an independent township. There he served as president of the Township Committee and School Board most of the years from the Township’s founding in 1919 until his death in 1952. Evelyn attended the Plainsboro Elementary School (now the J. V. B. Wicoff Elementary School) through the eighth grade before attending one year at Princeton High School and subsequently Miss Fine’s School (now Princeton Day School) where she graduated in 1934. She received her Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Wellesley College in 1938, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa. She, then, continued her schooling at Radcliffe College (now Harvard). Evelyn was employed briefly in the New York City Public Library before settling in Princeton. There she worked for the Gallup organization — as director of the American Institute of Public Opinion (AIPO) and later, Universal Pictures at Audience Research Institute (ARI). Subsequently, she joined the Educational Testing Service (ETS) where she played an important role in researching and planning for that organization’s transition to a computer system that would meet its scientific and data processing requirements.

Despite living and working in Princeton, her love was Plainsboro. Evelyn was a long time prominent member and trustee of the Plainsboro Historical Society. The Wicoff family home was purchased by the Town of Plainsboro for township offices and later became the home of the Plainsboro Historical Society’s Museum. Evelyn proudly participated in each Plainsboro Founder’s Day events. Evelyn was very active in the First Presbyterian Church of Plainsboro, the church she attended all her life. There she served in a variety of volunteer positions for over 40 years including church treasurer.

Evelyn was devoted to her family and they to her. To her forty-two nieces and nephews she was simply known as “Aunt Evie”, someone interested in all facets of their lives, excited to share their experiences, view their endless pictures, and engage in a mean game of Parcheesi. Her sharp intellect led to insightful discussions and unique viewpoints but most importantly, she took time to listen. Her family will cherish the memories and moments spent with their very loving aunt.

Evelyn was preceded in death by her parents John V. B. and Lavinia A. Wicoff; brothers John and Doug; sisters Dorothy Bennett, Catharine, Marjorie Cooper, and Lavinia; nieces Jean Wicoff Line and Evelyn Cooper Sitton; and nephew Douglas Wicoff. She is survived by many nieces and nephews: June Bennett McCracken of LaClede, Idaho; William Bennett of Sandpoint, Idaho; Anne Wicoff Carvajal of Bakersfield, Calif.; John Roberts Wicoff of Titusville; and Barbara Cooper Neeb of Mt. Laurel; fifteen grand-nieces and nephews, and nineteen great-grand-nieces and nephews.

A service to celebrate her life will be held at the First Presbyterian Church, of Plainsboro, at 11:30 a.m. on October 20, 2012.

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made in her memory to the First Presbyterian Church of Plainsboro, 500 Plainsboro Road, Plainsboro, N.J. 08536 or to Doctors Without Borders, 333 7th Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10001-5004.

Arrangements are under the direction of A.S. Cole Son Funeral Home, 22 North Main Street, Cranbury.


Robert Joseph Litz

Robert Joseph Litz, 62, of Los Angeles and Berkeley, Calif. and Princeton died October 10, 2012 at his home in Los Angeles. He was born October 3,1950 in Cleveland, Ohio to Mary Millik Litz and the late William E. Litz. He is survived by his mother, several cousins and many close friends including Michael Nylan. Mr. Litz was raised in Cleveland’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood and graduated from St. Ignatius High School in 1968. He completed his undergraduate degree at Boston University, where he was editor of the literary magazine. He earned a MTS in American Studies from Harvard University in 1975. Mr. Litz entered the theater world as a press agent for the New England Repertory Theatre in Worcester, Mass. Eventually he had roles in several productions. In the early 1980s, Mr. Litz shifted to writing plays, gaining acclaim in 1983 for his play, Great Divide, which was subsequently produced off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop in 1984. Mr. Litz wrote seventeen produced plays for Off, Off-off Broadway, the regional theatres, and for the Elephant Theatre Company where he was playwright in residence beginning in 2005. Much of his work focused on social and political themes. Mr. Litz wrote several television shows for A&E, History and Discovery including the A&E biographies George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Jackson, and Emmy-nominated John Travolta. For A&M Films, he wrote the original screenplay for Twister. Other produced films included House of Cards, Medium Straight and Rappin’. He produced the indie film Ten Tricks. Theater highlights included: One World (NAACP Best Play & Best Ensemble nominee); Douglas (Portland Critics, Best Play); Playing the Room (Juno Award nominee for Best Film on a Musical Subject); Mobile Hymn (Dramalogue Award, Best Play) and Cycles (Best of 2012 Hollywood Fringe Festival). Cycles won rave reviews and had just completed a successful run at The Asylum Theatre and Lab on October 7, 2012. Mr. Litz was simultaneously working with Michael Nylan on a children’s book set in Han China, plays about the United States Supreme Court and had a feature documentary, Madaraka & Jaffar Climb Kiliminjaro (Becketfilms) in post-production. Mr. Litz won the 2012 Burger Prize for writing on the theater. He was a member of the Actors Studio (Playwrights/Directors Unit), the WGAW, and LA Stage Alliance. Expressions of sympathy or tribute may take the form of contributions to Feeding America, www.feedingamerica.org.


Karen Panicaro

Karen Panicaro (nee Wright) 63, of Seaside Park died on Monday, October 8, 2012 at her home. She was born and raised in Princeton, moving to Seaside Park 5 years ago.

She was pre-deceased by her parents Harry J. Wright, Jr. and Helen (nee Sullivan). She is survived by her brother Harry J. Wright III (“Skip”) of Princeton and Seaside Park, her sisters Margaret “Jill” Michaels of Kingston, and Katherine “Kitten” Jameson of Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.

Donations in memory of Karen may be made to the charity of your choice. Timothy E. Ryan Home for Funerals, located at 809 Central Avenue in Seaside Park is in charge of the arrangements.


Gertrude Dubrovsky

Gertrude Dubrovsky, a longtime Princeton resident who taught Yiddish at Princeton University and was the author of three books, died in Jamaica Plain, Mass. on October 13 at the age of 86.

Dubrovsky was one of four children of Benjamin and Rose Wishnick, who immigrated to the United States from Poland around the turn of the last century. Early in their marriage, they operated a hand laundry in New York’s Lower East Side before moving to Farmingdale, N.J., with the help of a land grant from Jewish charities set up for that purpose, to join a community of Jewish farmers. Many of them, including her parents, were Yiddish-speaking immigrants from Eastern Europe via New York who had little knowledge of farming before arriving in the New Jersey countryside and learned to raise chickens and other livestock.

Dubrovsky had hoped to go to college but was discouraged from doing so by her father. In 1946 she married Jack Dubrovsky, also a son of Jewish chicken farmers in Farmingdale. She didn’t give up on the idea of college, however, and when her second son Steven started kindergarten, she began taking classes at Georgian Court College, a Catholic women’s school in nearby Lakewood, where Dubrovsky earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts in 1956.

Although she was embarrassed and confused on the first day when the class recited the “Hail Mary” prayer, she credited the religious and philosophical education she got from the nuns with helping her rediscover Judaism and its commonalities with Christianity. “Although I never worried that my Jewish identity would be weakened in any way, I hardly expected that it would be strengthened,” she wrote in a New York Times article on April 16, 1978, describing the unusual experience of being a secular Jewish woman in her 30s attending a Catholic college.

In 2008, Georgian Court University inaugurated its Court of Honor, including Dubrovsky among its 100 most distinguished alumnae.

Dubrovsky was a teacher in public schools from 1956-1961 and an assistant professor at Trenton State College from 1964-1966. After she and her husband separated, she moved to Princeton in 1971 with her son Benjamin.

Dubrovsky earned a master’s degree from Rutgers University and a doctorate from Columbia University Teachers College in 1972. For her dissertation project, she translated Kentucky, a book-length series of poems written shortly after World War I by famed Yiddish poet I.J. Schwarz about the impact of America on Jewish ethnic identity among immigrants in the rural south after the Civil War. The University of Alabama Press later published the translation.

Dubrovsky was a Yiddish instructor at Princeton University from 1974-1995 and also worked at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. She was active in local politics and Princeton’s Jewish community. In the 1980s she was municipal chairperson of the Mercer County Democratic Committee and a member of the Committee on Aging. She was a candidate for Mercer County freeholder in 1982 and, with her teenage son as her campaign manager, she ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1974.

With a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Dubrovsky conducted a detailed oral history of Farmingdale and would later publish a history of that community in her second book, The Land Was Theirs: Jewish Farmers in the Garden State (1992).

Though she had no background in film and very little funding, she was also determined to make a documentary based on her book, and her perseverance paid off in 1993 when PBS broadcast The Land Was Theirs, which also won a prize at the Berkeley Film Festival.

She was awarded a fellowship at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies in 1984 and spent a year there. While in Oxford, Dubrovsky traveled to Cambridge, England where, by chance, she met Greta Burkill. Burkill helped found the Cambridge Refugee’s Committee, which organized kindertransport convoys that brought thousands of European Jewish children safely to England from Nazi Germany in the late 1930s.

After finishing The Land Was Theirs, Dubrovsky took on the project of documenting Burkill’s work, and pursued that work as a Life Fellow of Cambridge University’s Clare Hall. That work culminated in the publication of Six From Leipzig, an account centering on a group of six kindertransport cousins, in 2004.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Dubrovsky wrote a series of articles and “Speaking Personally” columns for The New York Times on the topic of long-term care of the aging. Those columns earned Dubrovsky the ire of several nursing home facilities and a lawsuit from one, though she and the Times prevailed. In an article published in 1980, she described a visit with her stepmother Hilda Wishnick, who was in a nursing home suffering from dementia. “You let go of memory, and you forget. What else is there to do?” Hilda says.

“I leave, taking the images [of residents with dementia] with me. I want to let go of them and forget. But I cannot. I’m not old enough,” Dubrovsky wrote in a haunting foreshadowing of her own struggle with Alzheimer’s disease — a diagnosis she refused to accept even as she worked on what would be her last writing project, a journal she kept during the first months of her stay at Rogerson House, an Alzheimer’s facility in Massachusetts.

Dubrovsky leaves her son Richard and daughter-in-law Leora of Howell; her son Steven and daughter-in-law Ann of Bethel, N.Y.; her son Benjamin and daughter-in-law Alice of Lincoln, Mass.; a brother, Arnold West of Bradenton, Fla.; six grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. Her second husband, Sidney Gray, died in 1999. Burial took place on October 16 in the Freehold Jewish Center Cemetery in Freehold, N.J.


Patricia Phipps Jones

Patricia Phipps Jones of Princeton Junction and Hutchinson Island, Fla, passed away peacefully at the home of her son in Orlando, Fla. on October 9, 2012. She was 83 years old. Born In San Pedro, California, Patricia lived in West Chester, Pa. before moving to Princeton. She retired as a travel agent at Kuller Travel in Princeton. Prior to Kuller Travel, Patricia worked at The Princeton University Store and the Columbus Boychoir School (in 1980 it became the American Boychoir School).

Patricia loved her family and loved to travel. She enjoyed her winters at her Florida home and the many friends she had there. Patricia is survived by her husband of 60 years, Harold B. Jones and her three children, Holly Aragon and her husband, Francisco of Pompano Beach, Fla., Mindy May and husband, Robin of Hamilton, and Tyler Jones and his wife, Linda of Orlando. She also had 7 grandchildren of whom she was very proud. Jennifer Hanson and her husband, Matt, Christopher Jones, Chelsea and Mallory May, Alexander, Fabiola and Francine Aragon, and four great grandchildren.

Services will be private. Donations can be made in Patricia’s memory to the Samaritan Hospice, 1300 North Semoran Blvd. Suite 210, Orlando, Fla. 32807.


Mary Ellen Burroughs Snedeker

Mary Ellen Burroughs Snedeker died Monday, October 8, 2012 at her home in Grovers Mill after a lengthy illness. She was 83. She is survived by her husband of 60 years Richard S. Snedeker of West Windsor, their three children, daughter Mary Jenkins Snedeker of Essex Junction, Vermont, son James Peter Snedeker of Sunderland, Mass, daughter Amy Elisabeth Snedeker of Plainsboro, two grandchildren Laurel Tentindo and her husband Luis of Los Angeles, Calif., and Peter Dugan and his wife Angela of Hopkinton, Mass. and her brother Peter Van W. Burroughs and his wife Nancy of Fort Mill, South Carolina and several nieces and nephews.

A 1951 graduate of Douglass College, Mary Ellen had a long career as a school social worker in the Pennington and East Windsor school districts. She also worked for the New Jersey State Bureau of Child Welfare and taught kindergarten at the Chapin School in Princeton. She retired in 1994. She was particularly fond of traveling, and over the years visited over 50 countries around the world. She was a regular supporter of organizations that benefit small animals.

Visiting hours were held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, October 12 with services that followed at The Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, 40 Vandeventer Avenue in Princeton. In lieu of flowers please make a donation to the charity of your choice.