April 25, 2018

Obituaries 4/25/18

David P. Billington


On March 25, David P. Billington, Gordon Y. S. Wu Professor of Engineering Emeritus of Princeton University, died in Los Angeles at the age of 90 from complications of pneumonia.

Born in 1927 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, David grew up in nearby Narberth. His father, Nelson Billington, was an insurance broker in Philadelphia and his mother, Jane Coolbaugh Billington, co-founded the children’s magazine Jack and Jill.

Following service in the U.S. Navy from 1945-46, David attended Princeton and graduated in 1950 with a degree in basic engineering. He spent two years in Belgium on a Fulbright scholarship to study structural engineering, where he met and married Phyllis Bergquist of Chicago, a Fulbright scholar in music. On his return to the United States, he worked for the structural engineering firm of Roberts and
Schaefer in New York, and his last projects were to design Pier 40 in Manhattan and Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral.

In 1960, Billington joined the civil engineering faculty at Princeton, where he taught full-time until 2010 and part-time until 2013. He wrote a McGraw-Hill classic textbook, Thin Shell Concrete Structures, that helped define standards for building in reinforced and prestressed concrete, and for many years was a consultant on the safety of structural designs.

In the 1970s, after studying the works of the Swiss bridge designer Robert Maillart and several other engineers, Billington identified an aesthetic tradition in modern structural engineering, independent of architecture, that he termed “structural art” in a book, The Tower and the Bridge (1983). In a popular survey course at Princeton on structures, and in several more books and museum exhibitions, he showed through examples of bridges and other structures how engineers could achieve greater elegance within the engineering constraints of safety and economy. He also gave seminars to state highway departments around the country to show how public works could be improved. In the 1980s, he began a second survey course to explain a wider range of engineering innovations, from the steamboat to the computer. The course showed how innovations built upon each other over time.

Professor Billington’s teaching emphasized the humanity of engineers. Students solved numerical problems, wrote essays and lab reports or term papers, and analyzed images, all to understand major works of engineering from the perspectives of scientific efficiency, social usefulness, and symbolic importance. The approach appealed to liberal arts as well as engineering students, and from the 1990s his two survey courses enrolled one-fifth of the undergraduates at Princeton. Professor Billington also gave over 200 lectures off campus at the invitation of other schools and groups.

Billington was active in Trinity Episcopal Church in Princeton, where he served on the vestry. In 1968, Princeton’s first African American Mayor, James Floyd, called on the University to do more for education in the community. The following year, with the help of several engineering colleagues, Billington launched a campus summer program in engineering for minority youth in Princeton. The program merged a few years later with the Princeton-Blairstown camp.

In 1999 the Engineering News-Record named him one of the five leading engineering educators of the previous 125 years. His many other honors included honorary degrees from Princeton University, Union College, Grinnell College, and the University of Notre Dame. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he received the Dana Award for Pioneering Achievement in Education, the Belgian Sarton Chair, and the National Science Foundation Director’s Distinguished Teacher-Scholar Award.

His principal summer activity for many years was to photograph bridges, often assisted by his children. He enjoyed concerts with his wife Phyllis, and both had many friends in the community. He is survived by his brother and sister-in-law, Librarian of Congress Emeritus James H. and Marjorie Billington; his sister-in-law Lynn Billington; six adult children: David Jr., Elizabeth, Jane, Philip, Stephen, and Sarah; and 11 grandchildren. The family asks that donations in lieu of flowers be given to Arm in Arm, formerly the Crisis Ministry of Mercer County.


Patricia Louise Van Ness

Patricia Louise Van Ness, the daughter of the late Richard Williams and Althea Leftwich, was born on June 16, 1932 in Trenton, New Jersey. Patricia peacefully departed this life on March 16, 2018 at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Calif. at the age of 85. She was predeceased by her loving younger brother, Richard (Bub) Austin Leftwich.

Patricia was a lifelong resident of Trenton and Lawrenceville, New Jersey until her move to California in 2010 to be near her son. In 1954, she graduated from New Jersey State Teachers College and began her teaching career at Lanning and Antheil Elementary Schools. In 1958, she married noted attorney, Stanley Van Ness and gave birth to their only child, David Carlton Van Ness of Los Angeles, Calif.

Her teaching career spanned 44 years. She taught several years in the Ewing public school system before transferring to Princeton’s Regional School system. In 1968, for about two to three years, she took a leave of absence to teach at Mercer County Child Guidance Center. It was a center for what was termed as emotionally disturbed children, primarily autistic. Patricia returned to Princeton and taught kindergarten at Johnson Park, Littlebrook, and Community Park schools until her retirement in 1998 with the distinction of never having taken a sick day for over 35 years. Patricia made lifelong relationships with many teachers, parents, and her students. She received numerous teaching and community awards including the 2002 Princeton Area Community Foundation, Leslie Bud Vivian Award for Community Service. For a number of years, she was a member of the Negotiating Committee for teacher’s salaries and benefits. Recognized for her teaching skills and service to the community, she served as an initial Board member for the Princeton Charter School.

She did not seek the limelight nor enjoy it. She was content expanding minds and helping others reach their potential. She was once quoted as saying “I was always fortunate from high school on, I never had any doubt about my vocation. I wanted to be a teacher, to make a difference.” Each one, reach one — each one, teach one was always at the center of the work she did.

Nancy Hearne, a parent and later close friend after teaching her five boys, was quoted for an article around her retirement, “Her message to all children has been: Never let anyone tell you that you cannot learn. She often picked children up who had no way to school; she used to arrive at school more than an hour early and feed them breakfast. She ate lunch in the cafeteria with her class, rather than with other teachers.”

She was a relentless consumer of politics and an avid reader. When Patricia retired at the age of 66, she spent the next several years caring for her mother who was in Assisted Living until her passing. Not too long after that, she moved to California to be closer to her son. Until the time of passing, she enjoyed the creativity of painting over 100 pictures, making scarves and jewelry.

She is survived by her beloved son, David, of Los Angeles, Calf.; son-in-law, Peter Driscoll; uncle, Edgar Bowles and wife Cindy; sister-in-law, Cheryl Leftwich; nephew, Richard Leftwich; and extended family. She leaves behind many friends from having lived a full and generous life.

Memorial service will be held Saturday, May 5, 2018 at 11 a.m. at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd 716 Bellevue Avenue, Trenton, NJ 08618 followed by repass reception at church. All are welcome.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Patricia Van Ness Educational Fund at Princeton Area Community Foundation, www.pacf.org.


Andre Maman

André Maman, Professor Emeritus of Princeton University and former French Senator, who championed French-American political, cultural, and educational relations, died at home in Princeton, New Jersey on April 13, 2018 surrounded by his family. He was born on June 9, 1927 in Oran, Algeria and completed his education at the lnstitut d’Etudes Politiques in Toulouse, France with degrees in law, economics, and politics. On September 7, 1957 he married a Norwegian, Marie (Lill) Dalane and they remained together for over 60 years.

Professor Maman started his teaching career in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada, where he taught for five years at Mount Allison University. In 1958, he was offered a position at Princeton University teaching French Civilization and Culture. Professor Maman created courses that many students considered rites of passage in their undergraduate education at Princeton. At the time it was an educational innovation to blend culture, civilization, economics, and politics, and his classes attracted students from a broad variety of disciplines to the Romance Languages Department. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he also served as Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Students for several years. Professor Maman was beloved by his students and had an extensive network of alumni with whom he maintained contact long after his retirement. He won numerous teaching and mentoring awards from Princeton. In 1991, he was among four professors to receive one of Princeton’s very first Distinguished Teacher Awards.

While he maintained a full teaching and advising role at Princeton, he also served as President of the American Association of Teachers of French in America for eight years, and he was elected to the Conseil Supérieur des Français de L’Etranger of which he also served as President. He worked tirelessly to ensure that French citizens around the world received the benefits they earned and were effectively represented in France. Under his leadership, nearly 50 French associations in the U.S. worked together for major celebrations such as the bicentennial of American Independence in 1976 and to commemorate the Battle of Yorktown in 1981. He taught at Princeton until his retirement in 1993.

In 1992 he was elected as a Senator of France representing French citizens living abroad. Senator Maman traveled the world visiting both convenient and remote locations to ensure that French schools everywhere received proper support and funding from the French government. He served as a senator until 2001, with a primary interest in improving the quality of French education globally.

In 2003, in recognition of his exemplary service to France, the president of the French Senate conferred upon him one of the highest distinctions the French government can bestow, the title of Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur.

He is survived by his wife, Lill Maman; his four children, Jean-Paul, Anne-Marie, Pierre (wife Gail) and Suzanne (husband Massai); and his ten grandchildren Mazie Stephens Sweet, Paul Stephens, Caz Maman, Pierre Maman, Henri Maman, Philippe Maman, André Maman, Emile Charles, Miles Charles and Marie Charles. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of André Maman to HomeFront in Trenton, https://www.homefrontnj.org/ or to the Southern Poverty Law Center, https://www.splcenter.org.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Mather-Hodge Funeral Home,


Sergio Bonotto

Sergio Bonotto, 92, passed away peacefully on April 11, 2018 in Princeton. Born in Torino, Italy, he and his parents moved to Princeton in 1940 after coming to the U.S. as war refugees. Son of the late Constanza Vegezzi-Bossi and Dr. Michael Bonotto. Mrs. Bonotto was the art teacher at Princeton Day School and the Princeton YMCA in the 1960s and 1970s.

He attended the Massimo D’Azeglio School in Turin and graduated from Princeton High School in 1944; held a BA degree in chemistry from Princeton University as well as a MA degree from Columbia University.

In 1945, he served in the U.S. Army 86th Infantry, and was wounded by mortar fire in Germany. He was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart.

He spent several years working as a Research Assistant at Princeton’s School of Engineering, and his business career with Union Carbide Corporation in Bound Brook, N.J., New York, and São Paulo, Brazil. His original research on ethylene copolymers was published in the ACS Journal and other technical publications. He became an executive manager for Union Carbide’s operations in Brazil for four years, afterwards marketing their plastics to Latin America from a base in N.Y.C.

Mr. Bonotto was an avid skier and sailor. A member of the Montclair Ski Club, Montclair, N.J., he was President from 1955 to 1959; he was on the National Ski Patrol for over 20 years, including at Sugarbush, Vt. and Great Gorge, N.J. As a sailor, he completed navigation courses with the U.S. Power Squadron; and chartered a 42-foot ketch to cruise the New England Coast in the 1950s and 60s.

After early retirement, his pursuits included greeting cards and watercolors; and he had exhibits in Italy and the United States. He wrote short stories with a light, dry wit. He was also a member of the “Romeo Retired Men’s” group that met in Princeton. His last interview concerned the POW camp for Italian-Americans in Belle Mead.

Mr. Bonotto is predeceased by his wife of over 50 years, Mary Farrar Bonotto; and survived by his two sons: Michael Bonotto and fiancé Michele Furyk, Robert Bonotto of Arlington, Mass. Also extended families Balbiani and Pelegrino of Italy.

A memorial service will be announced later at Trinity Church, of Princeton.

Interment will be in Princeton Cemetery.


Elizabeth Gorman Parmentier

Elizabeth (Betty) Parmentier died peacefully of natural causes on April 11, 2018 in Palm City, Florida.

Elizabeth Parmentier was born on October 1, 1921 in Princeton, New Jersey. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1943 with a major in French and a minor in Spanish. After raising four children she went back to school and received a Master of Arts degree in French from the University of Delaware and taught French in local schools. Betty enjoyed vacationing at Cape Cod, sailing the local waters, and traveling to far off ports. She also played the flute. She was predeceased by her brother Frank T. Gorman Jr.; parents Beatrice Gorman and Frank T. Gorman Sr.; her husband George (Larry) Lawrence Parmentier; and her granddaughter Antonia Elizabeth Vargas. She is survived by her sister Constance Gorman, her brother Edward Gorman, and her children James Lawrence Parmentier, Robert Amory Parmentier, Jacqueline Rose Parmentier and Carol Ann Vargas, and five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. She was a loving wife and mother and will be sorely missed.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, May 3rd at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 5150 SE Railway Ave, Stuart, Fla. In lieu of flowers persons may make a donation to St. Luke’s church. A reception will be held after the service at Sandhill Cove, 1500 SW Capri St, in Palm City, Fla.

If you would like to share your condolences online with the family, please visit the Forrest Hills website at http://www.foresthillspalmcityflorida.com.


Grace Lester Cobb Meigs

Grace Lester Cobb Meigs, 91, died Friday, April 13, peacefully at home, in the company of her family.

She was born in Dallas, Texas, to Delmore and Grace Finn Cobb in 1926. She graduated from the Hockaday School in Dallas and attended Wellesley College on a Seven Sisters scholarship. An English major, she could recite the Prologue to Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales — in Middle English — throughout her life.

Upon graduating in 1948, Lester moved to Chicago where she worked as an advertising copywriter. On a blind date engineered by her doting aunt Gladys Finn, she was introduced to a University of Chicago graduate student named A. James Meigs. They married in 1950 and had four children. Lester and Jim lived a peripatetic, but hardly rootless, life, moving from Chicago to Arkansas, St. Louis, Princeton, Claremont, Calif., and back to Princeton. In each locale, Lester cemented lifelong friendships.

Lester loved to read and always kept up to date on literature and ideas. Car rides shuttling children to the YMCA or horseback-riding lessons typically included conversations about theology, anthropology, or linguistics. When her own children were in school, she was often found auditing classes at Princeton University.

Her parenting style was simultaneously loving and laissez-faire. While unstinting with hugs, she believed children also needed freedom. Shoes were optional; tree climbing encouraged.

And Lester was quite adventurous in her own right. She and Jim were certified scuba divers and explored reefs and wrecks around the world. They also traveled widely above the high-tide line, often in the company of her beloved brother Allen Cobb and his wife, Bonnie. (Regions with vineyards were particularly prized.)

Wherever she lived, Lester was involved in charitable work, including teaching English to refugees in California, and volunteering at New Jersey’s Neuro-Psychiatric Institute. She was an active parishioner at Princeton’s All Saints’ Church for over five decades. After moving to the Princeton Windrows community in 2001, she made yet another set of friends. In her later years, she treasured the companionship of her caretaker, Patsy Nam-Foster.

She is survived by her children, Margaret Meigs (Paul Laskow) of Philadelphia; Susan Meigs (Todd Vunderink) of Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.; James Meigs (Jennifer Stern) of Yonkers, N.Y.; and Barbara Meigs Hughes (James Hughes) of Madison, N.J.; and by her 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She was predeceased by her husband, brothers Allen, Delmore, and Robert, and sisters Sarah and Anne.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 12, 3 p.m., at All Saints’ Church, in Princeton.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to All Saints’ Church or Greenwood House hospice, in Ewing, N.J.

Arrangements are under the direction of The Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton, NJ.


Robert Bruce Middlebrook

Born January 15th, 1930 in Seattle, Washington, Robert Bruce Middlebrook has lived his 88 years to the fullest. He attended Magnolia Elementary School in Seattle. After graduating Summa Cum Laude as Valedictorian of the Class of 1948 at The Lakeside School in Seattle, he moved East to Princeton where he studied engineering and architecture at Princeton University. His sophomore year at Princeton University, he met Marilyn Jean Corl on a blind date set up by his high school best friend and college roommate, Arthur Langley. Bob and Marilyn married on April 4th, 1952 in Princeton just before his graduation. In 1954, he earned his Master of Fine Arts in Architecture from Princeton University. 

For many years he commuted by train to Manhattan where he worked for several architecture firms as Chief of Design. These firms include: Kelly & Gruzen, John Graham & Company, Welton Becket & Associates, and Paul & Jarmul. He was in charge of design for many projects, including The United States Mission to the United Nations; 1964 World’s Fair pavilions for Coca Cola, Ford, and General Electric; corporate headquarters for Xerox; and the Federal Office Building and Court House in Rochester, N.Y. Then, moving closer to home, Robert worked for Rutgers University as the University Architect and Director of New Facilities during a time of expansion. He then continued this line of work at Princeton University, his Alma Mater. During his time at Princeton he coordinated facilities work on the main campus and then he moved to partner with scientists at the Plasma Physics Laboratory who were engaged with the Tokamak fusion reactor project. Throughout his career he also hand-painted beautiful functional renderings of design projects for corporate clients, and designed private homes around Princeton, including two homes for his family, to which he added numerous additions. He never stopped thinking about design!

As a husband and family man, Robert had a good life. He and his wife, Marilyn, traveled extensively. They traveled across the U.S. and Canada and visited Europe as well as the Far East and Africa. Here at home, they were active in the Princeton community. They were members of Community Without Walls (House 4) and shared many enjoyable times attending concerts and theatre events in town as well as taking advantage of courses offered by the University. The long-term friendships that he and Marilyn developed over the years enriched their sense of connection with neighbors and community. 

Robert Bruce Middlebrook passed on Sunday, April 22, 2018 at Arden Courts in Yardley, Pennsylvania where he had been struggling with dementia. He is deeply missed by his wife, Marilyn Jean Middlebrook; daughter, Carol Lynn Middlebrook of Kensington, Md.; son, Robert David Middlebrook of Lawrenceville, N.J.; daughter-in-law and Dave’s wife, Amy; and granddaughter, Alison. He is also survived by Ada Middlebrook, the wife of his deceased older brother Bill, as well as Bill’s children, Krista of Greenville, S.C.; Curt of Tampa, Fla.; and Cora of Keedysville, Md.; and his younger brother Jack Middlebrook and his wife Marci of Bozeman, Mont.; and Jack’s children, Eric Middlebrook of Ormond Beach, Fla. and Lara Middlebrook Hayes of Jacksonville, Fla.

Robert, aka “Pop-Pop”, will be fondly remembered for his warm hugs, Sheltie ear rubs, the twinkle in his eye when he would say, “why spoil a good story by sticking just to the facts.” His fireside storytelling enriched our family traditions and was fueled by memories of generations passed. 

Calling hours will be Tuesday, May 1, 2018 from 11-1 at the Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, 40 Vandeventer Ave. in Princeton. Burial will follow at Princeton Cemetery, 29 Greenview Ave. in Princeton, followed by a late luncheon and light memorial at the Italian American Club, 8 Founders Lane in Princeton. Bob’s family warmly welcomes family and friends to join them for all or any of this remembrance and celebration of a life well lived.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org.


Wesley A. McCaughan

Wesley A. McCaughan, 93, of Princeton died peacefully at his home on April 15th, surrounded by three generations of his family.

Wes was born in Hartford, Conn., in 1924, to Wesley McCaughan, Sr., and Sara Wilhelmina Adams McCaughan, soon after his parents emigrated from Belfast, Northern Ireland. The family moved to Princeton in 1926. His father, a skilled master cabinetmaker, worked for the then Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research, now the Plasma Physics Laboratory. His mother was a secretary at Princeton University when very few women worked outside the home.

A 1942 graduate of Princeton High School, he then spent one year at Trenton State Teachers College, now The College of New Jersey, before being drafted in 1943. He served three years in the Signal Corps, and reached the rank of Staff Sergeant. After an additional year in the Army, he returned to Princeton. In 1948, he married Judith Ellen Vose, whom he had met just before he was shipped to Europe, and they soon became the parents of three daughters. He finished college in 1949, earning a BS in English education, and received a Masters of Education at Rutgers in 1951, with the help of the GI Bill.

In 1955, a high school classmate told him of a job opening at Princeton Country Day School, a private school for boys, which was affiliated with Miss Fine’s school for girls. Wes taught English, reading, and ancient history, and coached the baseball team. PCDS and Miss Fine’s merged in 1965 and became Princeton Day School. He worked as admissions director for eight years, but then returned to his first love, teaching, for the remainder of his career — a total of 32 years at the two schools. Wes retired in 1987, but continued his association with PDS. He was the guest of honor at a luncheon last year.

One of the accomplishments he was most proud of was his role as the co-founder, with his friend, Marshall Clagett, of the Romeos (retired old men eating out). This group, which was established over 20 years ago, met in various Princeton locations over the years. Today, five days a week, at 10 a.m., the Romeos are a familiar sight at Bon Appetit in the Princeton Shopping Center, discussing current events over coffee.

Wes was a gentleman and a scholar, a gifted educator, and a life-long learner, interested in the world around him even in his 90s. He was revered by his students, admired by his colleagues, and cherished by his friends and family. At various stages in his life, he was an avid golfer; a photographer for N. T. Callaway Real Estate, where his wife, Judy, worked; and was a passionate surfer of the web. He was often seen in town driving his smart car, riding his bike, or taking a long stroll. He spent many happy vacations at the Jersey shore with his family.

He was predeceased by his parents; sister, Phyllis McCauley; and his beloved wife of 64 years, Judith. He is survived by three daughters, Wendy Jolley (Michael) of Princeton; Carey Hoover (Stuart) of Lawrenceville; Marny McCaughan of Riverside, Ill.; seven grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

A celebration of Wes’s life will be held on Saturday, May 5, at 3 p.m. at Princeton Cemetery. All are welcome. Following the service there will be a reception at Princeton Day School, The Great Road.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Princeton Day School Scholarship Fund which will be established in his name.

Arrangements are under the direction of The Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton.


Anne Marie Kearns

Anne Marie Kearns, age 71, passed on Monday, April 23rd, after a long struggle with Glioblastoma Brain Cancer (GBM).  She was born to Nicolas (Ben) and Eleanor (Moore) Marmo on Christmas Day 1946. Anne married her high school sweetheart William J. Kearns on May 8, 1966.

Anne earned her real estate license in 1985 and worked for more than 30 years handling real estate transactions. She was Vice President and Manager of Princeton’s Prudential, Fox and Roach office for over 20 years.  She was lovingly adored and respected by her colleagues. Beyond the National Association of Realtors, Anne was also affiliated with the NJ Association of Realtors at the Mercer County and Middlesex Board of Realtors.

She was an active member of women’s groups in both Princeton, NJ and Naples, FL. Anne enjoyed decorating her homes, marveling at sunsets with her husband and friends, and watching her grandchildren grow.  Her infectious personality made everyone comfortable and she was the bright, shining light of her family and friends.

Anne is survived by her loving husband of almost 52 years, William J. Kearns; her son and daughter in-law Bill and Beth Kearns; her daughters and sons-in-law Susan and Mark Tudor, and Dana and Jay Zampini; and seven grandchildren, Ryan and Cameron Tudor, Jack and Haley Kearns, Matthew, Michael and Ben Zampini. Anne is also survived by her mother Eleanor Marmo and her brothers and sisters-in law George and Jean Marmo and John and Ruta Marmo.

The funeral service will be held at St. Paul Parish, 216 Nassau Street, Princeton, NJ 08542 on Saturday April 28th at 1:00 p.m. with the burial to follow.  The family will greet friends in advance from 10:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, 40 Vandeventer Ave, Princeton, NJ 08542 on Saturday April 28th.

Dr. David Reardon and his team at the Dana -Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA treated Anne during her courageous journey while battling Glioblastoma Brain Cancer. Anne felt strongly that she wanted to support his research and efforts towards GBM treatment and cure.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made in memory of Anne to support Dr. David Reardon’s Research Fund at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, P.O. Box 849168, Boston, MA 02284.  Please write checks to Dana-Farber and include Dr. Reardon’s Research Fund in the memo section. To give online, please visit www.dfci.org/give