October 5, 2022

Obituaries 10/5/2022

T. Leslie Shear, Jr.

T. Leslie Shear, Jr., a lifelong resident of Princeton, NJ, died after a brief illness on September 28, 2022 at the Princeton Hospital. Leslie was pre-deceased by his wife Ione Mylonas Shear, and survived by his daughters, Julia L. and Alexandra Shear, and grandchild Briar Shear.

Leslie was born on May 1, 1938 to Josephine and T. Leslie Shear, in Athens, Greece, where his father was directing the excavations at the Athenian Agora. That auspicious beginning in archaeology set him on the path which he followed for the rest of his life. After growing up in Princeton, and attending the Lawrenceville School between 1952 and 1955, his studies took him to Princeton University where he majored in Classics and received an A.B. summa cum laude in 1959. After participating in the Regular Program of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, where he held the John Williams White Fellowship, he returned to Princeton University in 1960 to start his graduate work in classical archaeology, studies which culminated in his Ph.D. in 1966. His first teaching position took him to Bryn Mawr College (1963 to 1967), and then, in 1967, Leslie returned to Princeton and taught in the Department of Art and Archaeology until his retirement in 2009. At Princeton, he ran the Program in Classical Archaeology for many years and so trained large numbers of students, many of whom followed him into Greek archaeology.

Even before Leslie received his Ph.D., he had gained extensive excavating experience at the Greek sites of Mycenae, Eleusis, Perati, and Corinth and at Morgantina in Sicily. At both Mycenae (in 1953 and 1954) and the Athenian Agora (in 1955), he assisted with the excavation photography, steps which led to his development as an excellent archaeological photographer. In 1968, Leslie became director of the excavations at the Athenian Agora, a position which he continued to hold until 1994. Under his direction, the excavated area expanded significantly to the south, east, and especially to the north of the metro line. The work in the northern sections was particularly significant because it led to the discovery of the Royal Stoa, where the trial of Socrates took place, and the Painted Stoa, an important site for the commemoration of war and later connected with the philosopher Zeno who invented Stoic philosophy. In preparation for the 1980 campaign, Leslie took the momentous decision to institute the Agora Volunteer Program: now for the first time in Greece, the actual work of excavation would be done by student volunteers, rather than by local Greek workmen, as was traditional in Greece. Instituted in the face of significant opposition, the program was an instant success that changed the face of archaeology in Greece. It provided opportunities for undergraduates to excavate, and it paved the way for the field schools that are now common.

Leslie’s scholar contributions include two important books, Kallias of Sphettos and the Revolt of Athens in 286 B.C. (1978) and Trophies of Victory: Public Building in Periklean Athens (2016), as well as many articles. He was also a dedicated teacher who patiently elucidated for his students the intricacies of ancient Athenian architecture, archaeology, and culture; for many of his students, he served as a model for their own teaching. His connection to archaeology was not only professional, but also personal. He met his wife Ione, herself a daughter of the notable archaeologist George Mylonas, in 1956 when they both excavated for Ione’s father at Eleusis, and his oldest daughter, Julia, continues in the field.

Beyond his academic achievements, he was known for his warmth and kindness that he shared with everyone from his colleagues and students to people whom he encountered on the street. He served as trustee of the William Alexander Proctor Foundation (1982-1989) and of the Princeton Junior School (1983-2015; president 1999-2006). He was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather, and he will be greatly missed.

Funeral services will be held at Trinity Church, 33 Mercer Street, Princeton on Monday October 10, 2022 at 10:30 a.m.

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David R. Mikkelsen

On Saturday, September 17, 2022, David R. Mikkelsen, a beloved husband and father, passed away at home in Princeton, New Jersey. He was 73. Born in Ames, Iowa, David grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He graduated from Caltech with a Bachelor of Science in Physics, then received a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Washington, after which he completed a post doc at Caltech under Nobel Laureate Kip Thorne. In 1977, he was hired by Princeton University as a computational physicist with the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). A consummate scientist, David probed the workings of matter and energy from the smallest to largest scale, and felt fortunate in being paid to pursue these passions. He traveled frequently for collaborations with research centers in Germany, Japan, and at MIT, and enjoyed exploring local towns and cultures when on the road. In 2018, he retired from PPPL as a principal research physicist after more than 40 years of service.

David loved playing Go, collecting reasonably priced wine, building his own telescopes from cardboard tubes, and endless photography. At 6’7” he often was called a “giant” and a “bear” by the local children, who loved the epic 20’ tree swing he installed on Murray Place in the 1980s.

David was practical, delighting in applications of scientific theory and knowledge to real-world matters, such as fixing a toaster or making the perfect cup of coffee. He was never without a mechanical pencil in his shirt breast pocket and a small notebook filled with his chicken scratch. He frequently sported a driving cap and pocket watch. Incredibly handy, David once concocted the first TV mute button in the Mikkelsen household from 10’ of wire and a simple switch. He delighted in collecting random facts and regularly beat his entire family at Trivial Pursuit, and could conjure clear explanations of black holes, cell phones, a disappearing plane, and other mysteries at the drop of the hat.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Sally, their two children, Anders Mikkelsen and Adella Kerr, and their spouses, Tennille Mikkelsen and Jared Kerr. He also is survived by his mother-in-law, two aunts and uncles, two brothers, three sisters, three sisters-in-law, three brothers-in-law, nine nieces and nephews, two cats, and his close friends Al Cavallo and Mary Harper. He will be greatly missed.

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Russell I. Fries

Russell I. Fries of Savannah, Georgia, passed away on Saturday, August 20. Born to Mills and Hester Fries in Montclair, New Jersey, in 1941, he died while on a cycling trip on a beautiful day near Smiths Cove, Nova Scotia, where he had spent happy summers since his childhood. He was 81.

As a child, Russell was inquisitive and curious — “a Russell in the bushes,” as his mother Hester joked. He graduated from Lawrenceville School in 1959, Yale University in 1963, and Johns Hopkins University, where he earned his MA, followed by a PhD in Economic History in 1972.

Throughout his varied career, Russell showed a great love for the stories and histories behind people and objects, recording and  remembering them faithfully. Following his graduation from Hopkins, he taught at Southern Methodist University, then as an Associate Professor at the University of Maine at Orono (UMO) until 1984. Beginning in 1972, he also worked summers at the Historic American Engineering Record on the Paterson Great Falls Historic District, helping to win its 1976 designation by President Ford as a National Historic Landmark.

After his time at UMO, Russell worked at the Institute for Defense Analyses in Arlington, Virginia until 2001. Later in life, he focused intensely on the history of surveying, building an important historical collection of surveying equipment and surveying the land around his homes in Nova Scotia and Savannah.

Russell loved animals all his life, and his beautiful photographs of butterflies, bobcats, woodpeckers, grouse, and more inspired others to look more closely and affectionately at the creatures around them. He was also an athlete who refused to act his age, cycling competitively with those 20 years his junior.

In his personal life, Russell was a dedicated caretaker both for his mother in her declining years and for his beloved second wife, Ann L. Fries, during her five-year battle with lung cancer. Ann and Russell were married in 1992 and traveled often, building countless loving relationships with friends and family throughout Europe and America. Russell supported numerous charitable causes, including efforts to memorialize the Women Airforce Service Pilots and the Tuskegee Airmen. An enthusiastic guitarist, singer, and pianist, Russell also contributed to music communities in both Savannah and Nova Scotia, including enthusiastic support for the Savannah Children’s Choir and participation in the annual Savannah Music Festival. He enjoyed hosting dinners for friends, serving his favorite recipes (all those who knew him will miss his mashed potatoes) and gracing his guests with his best — or worst? — puns.

Russell is survived by his two children from his first marriage, Gwyneth Marcelo Fries and Thomas Fries, and his stepdaughter Lea Marshall; Gwyneth’s husband Darwin Marcelo and daughter Norma June Fries Marcelo; Thomas’s partner Joakim Valevatn; and Lea’s husband Thomas Marshall and children Anna Marshall and Brodie Marshall. For all of them, he was always a supportive cheerleader.

Many friends and relatives have reached out to share personal stories of Russell. If you have a story about Russell to share, please reach out to his daughter Gwyneth at gwynethfries@gmail.com. Memorial services for Russell will be held in Savannah and Smiths Cove in 2023.

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Michael Curtis

Michael Curtis, public intellectual and eminent scholar on Europe and Middle East politics, died on Monday October 3, 2022. He celebrated his 99th birthday on September 11.

During the 1970s and 1980s Curtis was the spokesperson for the United States Jewish academic community on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict representing the organization he founded, American Professors for Peace in the Middle East. He initiated the APPME in 1967 during the Yom Kippur War because emotions ran high and no other organization existed to express rational discourse about the situation. The APPME counted in its several thousand membership most of the Jewish academic community from all fields and published The Middle East Review, a respected scholarly journal. Curtis was the commentator of choice on major television news networks such as PBS and CBS when there was an outbreak of hostilities between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

His interest in international politics was evident by the time he was 13 years old. In 1936 he participated in the famous incident when the Jewish population along with other residents of London’s East End prevented the Fascists led by Oswald Mosely from marching down Cable Street, one of the major thoroughfares in the East End. His service during World War II in the Royal Artillery Corps led him to stations in Germany and Trieste, further contributing to his interest in international politics.

Curtis was graduated from the London School of Economics with a double first in economics and political science. He and George Soros were in the same class (1951), but Soros ended at the bottom of the class. Curtis’s self-deprecating joke was, “So much for graduating at the top of the class. Soros was busy with other things.” Having already published his first book in the UK (it was about British politics), he came to the United States in 1954 on a Cornell University postgraduate fellowship to study American political systems. He was teaching at University College London and few in England knew anything about American politics. He met his first wife, the late Laura Goldsmith Curtis, at Cornell and eventually became an American citizen.

In 2014 he was honored by the president of France as Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor for his contributions to the study of the history of French political thought and 20th century French politics. His appointment was presented by Francois DeLattre, then French ambassador to the United Nations, who served as Macron’s Secretary General of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs from 2019-2022, and is now French ambassador to Germany. His first book after coming to the United States was Three Against the Third Republic (Princeton University Press 1959), re-issued by Transaction Press with a new introduction by Curtis (2010). This book is considered the definitive study of early 20th century French politics and the rise of the right after the Dreyfus affair. In it, Curtis focuses on three writers, Georges Sorel, Maurice Barrès, and Charles Maurras and their reactions to the deficiencies they saw in the Third Republic and in the system of French democracy. They formulated a philosophic political amalgam of the conservative, reactionary, and moralist segments of French thought that later became the rationale for the rise of rightist governments throughout Europe epitomized by German Nazism.

Inspired by the French Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld’s book of photos of hundreds of French children murdered during the Holocaust, Curtis turned to an examination of France’s complicity in that horrific event. The result, Verdict on Vichy, came out first in 2002, published in London by Weidenfeld and Nicolson (Orion Press) and was named one of the best books of the year by The Daily Telegraph. It went on to be published in the United States in 2004 by Arcade Press, and was also translated into Italian and Czech for editions in those countries. The Italian title, Francia Ambigua, expresses how Curtis explored the contradictions and the dilemmas faced by various segments of French society, particularly in relation to the Holocaust. He brought to light for the first time outside of France, the investigation of the French government commission on despoliation, the requisitioning of Jewish property.

Curtis was the author of more than 35 books. In addition to his work on French politics, his books cover the fields of political theory, comparative government, Western European politics, the European Union, and the United Nations. He has long been known for his writing on antisemitism, totalitarianism, the Middle East, and Israel. He was one of the first to discuss the tangled web of the interconnections between religion and politics in the Muslim world in Religion and Politics in the Middle East. Other significant books on the Middle East include Israel:  Social Structure and Change, Israel in the Third World, and Orientalism and Islam.

The textbooks he wrote have introduced thousands of United States college students to the study of comparative government. They were used globally, translated into other languages (for instance, Elementi di Scienza politica, published by Il Mulino for instance first in 1968 and then reissued in the 1970s). His textbook, Great Political Theories, published in the 1960s, is still in print and used throughout the U.S. After reaching at Yale, Oberlin, and other U.S. institutions he retired as a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in political science from Rutgers.

Since his mid 90s, he has been writing almost daily columns for the online, journals, New English Review, and The American Thinker, bringing to public view such issues as the fate of Christians in the Middle East or the role of the tribes in the Middle East that hold enormous power and transcend borders and official governments. A constant theme is his analysis of the ongoing political, verbal and legal attacks on Israel by various segments of the international community. In his book, Should Israel Exist? A Sovereign Nation under Attack by the International Community, published by Balfour Press in 2011, Curtis analyzes how the attacks on Israel are not only traditional physical warfare, but also political.  He shows how Israel is the subject of over half the resolutions of the UN Human Rights Council with the rest of the world’s nations compressed into the other half.

In Orientalism and Islam, published by Cambridge University Press (2009), Curtis focused on the history of European thought in creating the field of Oriental studies. He traces the invention of terms like Oriental despotism back to Montesquieu. He discusses the impact of Montesquieu’s writing on subsequent thinkers like Edmund Burke, Karl Marx, and Max Weber. Included is an important chapter on Tocqueville. Tocqueville is usually associated with his study of the new nation of the United States, but Curtis reveals Tocqueville’s contribution to Oriental studies with his analysis of France and its relation to Algeria. This book is highly regarded as revealing that Western philosophers like Montesquieu and Tocqueville were not inherently biased and could comment objectively on Oriental and Muslim societies, basing their theories on perceptions of real processes and behavior in Eastern culture and government.

Curtis has received numerous awards and commendations among them many academic honors. They include several Fulbright Fellowships and a Bellagio/Rockefeller Institute Fellowship. The American Jewish Committee honored Curtis for his contributions to the literature about Israel and antisemitism. In addition to his years at American universities, he also has taught at Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, University of Bologna, and given lectures at hundreds of institutions. He was a Summer Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study (1981) and a Visiting Fellow, Center of International Studies, Princeton University. For many years, he was a member of the Advisory Council of the Politics Department at Princeton University.

Curtis is also admired by many for his comprehensive knowledge of the history of jazz and the Great American Songbook. He often played with lines by famous lyricists like Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, or Dorothy Fields in the opening sentences of his articles. For years, he and his second wife, artist and curator Judith Kapstein Brodsky, hosted jazz greats like Fred Hersh and Bill Charlap to give concerts in their Princeton home.

In addition to his second wife, Curtis is survived by two sons. Dr. Anthony (Tony) Curtis, Champaign, IL, is a patent lawyer with Schwegman, Lundberg, Woessner, Minneapolis. His wife Dr. Susan Mertzlufft Curtis is a Senior Lecturer in Accounting in the School of Business, University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana. Michael D. Curtis is the Communications Director, Republican Party of New Mexico. His wife Sheryl Jaffe Curtis is the Investments Advisor, PNC investments, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Curtis is also survived by two step-children, John B. Brodsky and Dr. Frances M. Brodsky, six grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, and one great grandchild.

The funeral service will be held 1 p.m. on Sunday, October 9, 2022 at the Jewish Center of Princeton, 435 Nassau Street, Princeton.

Burial will follow in the Princeton Cemetery.

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