October 12, 2022

Obituaries 10/12/2022

Hildred Anderson Storey Geertz

Hildred Anderson Storey Geertz passed away peacefully at her home in Princeton, New Jersey, on September 30, at the age of 95. She was a devoted anthropologist, prolific author, beloved teacher, mentor, mother and grandmother, bold advocate for services to the elderly, and friend to many.

Hilly was born in Queens, New York, on February 12, 1927 and reared there and in Teaneck, New Jersey. A graduate of Antioch College, she received her Ph.D. from Radcliffe College in 1956. Her first book, The Javanese Family (Free Press of Glencoe, Inc.), was published in 1961. After her initial fieldwork in Java, she taught at The University of Chicago from 1960 to 1970 before coming to Princeton University in 1970. At Princeton, Hilly taught courses on the history of anthropological theory, the anthropological study of life stories, the anthropology of art, and the ethnographer’s craft.

In 1972, Hilly became the first chairperson of the Department of Anthropology at Princeton University, and thus the first woman chair of a department at Princeton, a position in which she served for many years. She was named Professor Emeritus in 1998.

Hilly did extensive fieldwork in Morocco, and in Java and Bali, Indonesia and returned to Indonesia repeatedly during her career to conduct the research which helped fuel her extensive list of publications. She completed more than two years of fieldwork research in the village of Batuan on the island of Bali. Working in the same village that was studied in the 1930s by Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, she focused on the interconnections between different Balinese art forms and how and why such forms have changed through time. She investigated the effects of economic development and tourism on Balinese artistic endeavor.

The first book from the research in Batuan, Images of Power: Balinese Paintings Made for Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead, was published in January 1995 (University of Hawaii Press). In 2004, The Life of a Balinese Temple: Artistry, Imagination, and History in a Peasant Village was also published by the University of Hawaii Press. Among her other works, Professor Geertz is co-author with her former husband Clifford Geertz of Kinship in Bali (University of Chicago Press, 1975), and co-author with Clifford Geertz and Lawrence Rosen of Meaning and Order in Moroccan Society (Cambridge University Press, 1979). Most recently, in 2017, at the age of 90, her book, Storytelling in Bali, was published by the Dutch publishing house Brill. She took great pride in sharing her final work with friends and family.

Throughout her long career, Hilly touched the lives of many with her insight, kindness, and generosity. After retirement, she became an energetic member of Community Without Walls (CWW), advocating for programs to provide needed services to the elderly community of Princeton. She is survived by her children, Erika Reading and Ben Geertz; her brother Warren Storey; and grandchildren Andrea and Elena Martinez. A celebration of her life will be announced at a future date. Donations in her memory may be sent to the nonprofit Princeton Senior Resource Center (PSRC). CWW is now an affiliate of PSRC.

The family wants to extend a special thanks to Marci HoSang, of Millenium Home Care, LLC, Michelle HoSang, and Monica Rodney, for taking such good care of Hilly, keeping her comfortable, happy, and safe in her own home.


Rudolph John Skalka

Rudolph John Skalka, 90, of Princeton, NJ, passed away at home, surrounded by his loving family.

Born in New York City to Julius and Pauline Skalka, Rudolph was a graduate of St. Ann’s Academy and St. John’s University. He began his professional career with the accounting firm of KPMG (Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co.) after returning from France while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces from 1954 to 1956. A licensed New York State Certified Public Accountant, he was a financial executive for several companies, retiring from AMREP Corporation as Vice President of Finance in 1995. Since then, he was a private Financial Consultant to several NY Stock Exchange companies and a Member of the Boards and Chair of the Audit Committees for Onconova Therapeutics, Inc. and the Catholic Charities of Trenton.

Rudy and his wife, Anna Marie Sturn Skalka (Annie), were members of Princeton University’s Aquinas Institute, and more recently of Saint Charles Borromeo’s parish in Skillman. A lifelong athlete and avid sportsman, he enjoyed canoe camping, golf, cycling, and especially skiing, the love of which he passed on to his daughter, Jeannemarie, and his son, Christian. One of the original shareholders of the Mad River Ski Area Co-op in Vermont, he and his family spent many holidays hiking and skiing in the mountains. For his wife, Annie, he was an anchor of strength, love, and best friend. For his two children, he was a source of unconditional love and a model of personal integrity.

Predeceased by his parents and brothers, Paul Skalka and his wife Doris and Robert Skalka, Rudy is survived by his wife of 62 years; his children; his daughter-in-law Susan Skalka and son-in-law Alan Calfee; his grandchildren, Kazimir and Shiloh; his sister-in-law Barbara Skalka; and his nieces and nephews, Gerald, Paul, Doris, Catherine and Mary. Rudy is also survived by extended family and friends.

Calling hours will be held on Thursday, October 13, 2022, from 5 until 7 p.m. at the Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, 40 Vandeventer Avenue, Princeton.

The funeral will be held 9 a.m. on Friday, October 14, 2022, from the Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, 40 Vandeventer Avenue, Princeton. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 10:30 a.m. at St. Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church, 47 Skillman Road, Skillman, NJ 08558 with burial to follow at Princeton Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers donations may be sent to Hands Together, PO Box 80985, Springfield MA 01138 or to Catholic Charities of Trenton.


Anita Benarde

Longtime Princeton resident and artist Anita Benarde passed away on October 5, six days shy of her 97th birthday. She is probably best known for penning and illustrating the children’s book, The Pumpkin Smasher, a beloved Halloween classic published in 1972, influenced by happenings here, but set in Cranbury to protect the guilty and the innocent.

Anita, however, was making all kinds of art long before she arrived in town with her family in 1961 when her husband, Mel, joined the faculty of Rutgers University. It’s safe to say that Princeton provided an air of inspiration, imagination, and encouragement that kick-started 60 years of creativity that lasted until her passing! Her home studio reveals the volume, breadth, and depth of her creations: oils, acrylic, watercolors, pen and ink, woodcuts, monotypes, handmade paper, and book and magazine illustrations and covers, a good deal of it chronicling Town and Gown and highlighting her family’s travels abroad. She was a mainstay of the Princeton Art Alliance, frequently organizing and contributing to its exhibitions. Her work hangs in the embassies and consulates of several countries as well as corporate offices, hospitals, and private collections.

Over the course of her life, she also worked in public relations, advertising, travel, and real estate, taught art appreciation and gave art lessons on cruise ships, and, with her husband — academic and author Mel — raised three children (Scott, Andi, and Dana), enjoyed and counseled six grandchildren (Zach, Erica, Jake, Hillary, Michael, and Shirah), and delighted in two great grandchildren (Asa and Bode). She was a talented baker and gourmet cook, whose cheese and chocolate fondues were popular and in-demand with her children’s Princeton High School friends. Her recipe for candied tongue was devoured at New Year’s Day parties.

Of her professional accomplishments, she remained most proud of The Pumpkin Smasher with its evocative, orange and black, autumnal drawings and enduring message of the importance of an inclusive community standing up to bullies if we are to live in a just and compassionate world. Original galleys and illustrations are housed in Princeton University’s Cotsen Children’s Library. (Another children’s book, Georgio, The Train that Wanted to Ride a Boat, was a sweet metaphor for triumphing over adversity, something she did herself as she overcame various medical issues, and gave the Energizer Bunny a run for its money.) Fifty years after publication, The Pumpkin Smasher still resonates with children, parents, grandchildren, and grandparents. Coincidence or something else, Anita Benarde arrived in this world in October, set her most cherished work in October, and waved farewell in October, having filled “the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run.” 

The family is planning a celebration of her life for early November.


Anne M. Fields

Anne M. Fields, the daughter of Bernard L. and Margaret (Illig) Flanagan, was born on her mother’s birthday February 17, 1939 in Wellsville, New York. She is survived by her husband Kenneth D. Fields of Peterborough, NH.

Anne received a BS Degree in Education from State University of New York at Buffalo in 1961, where she was an elected Representative to Student Congress and President of College Union Board. She was a cellist with the Orchard Park Symphony in New York State.

Anne received a New York State Regents Diploma from Wellsville High School in 1957. She was Copy Editor of her yearbook and a weekly columnist for the school newspaper. During high school she had her own weekly three-hour radio show at WLSV in Wellsville called Accent On Youth. She planned the show and presented the top fifties recordings over the air. She earned numerous New York All-State awards for solo cello, orchestra and was a soprano with the choir and the nine-member Treblettes. She received the 1957 Arion Music Award for outstanding senior in music.

She was a third-grade teacher at William Gillette School in the Rush-Henrietta School District in suburban Rochester, NY in 1961-1962. A first-grade teacher at Pajarito School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1962-1963, she was a cellist with the Albuquerque Civic Symphony.

In the fall of 1963, she moved to Palo Alto, California, where she taught first grade at Crescent Park School. She was a cellist in the Stanford Symphony and a soprano at St. Ann’s Chapel. She married the late Dennis W. Elliott in Palo Alto in 1964. They had two children: Claire born in 1965 and Mark born in 1968. The family moved to Lexington, MA, in 1971 where she taught a Foods for Entertaining class for Adult Education. During that time, she was a member of the Harvard Business School Wives Club. Relocating to Old Greenwich, CT, in 1973, she was a member of the Greenwich Junior Women’s Club Drama Troupe performing at Greenwich schools, historical houses, and events.

The family moved to Princeton, NJ, in 1976 where Anne lived for 21 years. She was a Docent at Princeton University Art Museum from 1977-1981, researching paintings and giving gallery talks that are written up and in the archives. After her children were grown, Anne studied to be a paralegal and became interested in Real Estate. She earned a GRI designation and had a 12-year career in Real Estate starting out with Gloria Nilson Realtors in Princeton and later with Richard A. Weidel Realtors in Hopewell, NJ. She was a member of the National Association of Realtors, New Jersey Association of Realtors, and Mercer County Board of Realtors. During that time, she received numerous certifications and awards in residential, land, and commercial Real Estate.

In 1997, Anne moved to Peterborough, NH. She was a soprano with the Monadnock Chorus, performing with them at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1998. She was an In The Wings volunteer with the Peterborough Players. She met her husband Kenneth D. Fields when they were both members of a church choir and later served as deacons. They were married May 4, 2003. Anne was a member of the Dublin Community Church. As a soprano in the church choir, she will be remembered for her fine melodic soprano voice. She was also one of the Readers of Scripture for services. In addition to her interests in music and art history, her reading interests were diverse including economics, politics, and history, as well as fiction. Anne has traveled extensively in Europe including England, Scotland, Sweden, France, Austria, Spain, the Canary Islands, and the Caribbean. She was on the Board of Directors of Crafts Inn in Vermont where she and her husband owned one of their timeshare weeks.

During their years together Anne and Ken shared life interests, including Ken’s love of jazz and Anne’s love of classical music and opera. They were yearly subscribers to the Boston Symphony and Tanglewood. Most years they spent time in Virginia and Hilton Head Island, SC. In 2004 they spent three weeks exploring Scotland. Anne had a love of animals, especially dogs. She had an adventurous spirit, sense of humor, memorable laugh, and a wonderful enthusiasm for all that she set out to accomplish.

As a young woman, Anne’s greatest hope was to have children. She devoted the largest part of her life to being a mother. Her children have an abundance of photo albums that tell the story of her motivation, encouragement, and support of their activities, parties, and projects that she planned and carried out with them. Throughout the years when her children visited, they always brought out photo albums to share with friends or show their children what they were like at the same age.

Anne was a continuously sober member of AA for 46 years (December 9, 1975) and had a profound influence on the many lives she touched through that fellowship. She attended the Rutgers University School of Alcohol Studies in 1982 and was a volunteer at Carrier Foundation in Belle Mead, New Jersey, from 1982-1986. Anne had a core belief in the value of gratitude for blessings in her life. The words “thank you” were instilled in her children and encouraged with her grandchildren.

In addition to her husband Ken, Anne is survived by her son Mark Elliott and wife Ewa, granddaughters Katie and Lizzie, grandson Jan; daughter Claire Elliott; stepchildren Margery Langevin, Bruce Fields and wife Chrissy, Heather Marrotte; 11 step grandchildren; and five step great-grandchildren.

Anne was pre-deceased by a brother Richard J. Flanagan in 1991, a grandson Benjamin Flanagan Elliott in 1999 and a stepdaughter Laurel Humphrey in 2021.

A Memorial Service was held at 11 a.m. on Sunday, October 9, 2022 at the MacDowell Dam.

Burial will be in the Fields Family Plot at Wayside Cemetery in Ocean, New Jersey.

Should friends desire, contributions may be sent to Alcoholics Anonymous General Service Office, PO Box 2407, James A Farley Station, New York, NY 10116-2407.