LuxEsto - The Digital Magazine of Kalamazoo College

In Memory

InMemory Winter 2024

Virginia (Taylor) Hilf ’44 on December 23, 2022. Jinny was the first female editor of The Index, the student newspaper of Kalamazoo College, and received a B.A. in English from K.

Dorothy “Jane” (Prout) Bolenbaugh ’45 on April 11, 2022. After graduating from high school in 1941, Jane took typing classes at college in order to work for the U.S. Army and help in the war efforts for World War II. While working and continuing her studies, she met Ed Bolenbaugh, and they were married in August 1947. Ed and Jane later finished their college degrees at Purdue University. In 1951, Ed and Jane moved to their home on Clear Lake in Forest Lake, Minnesota, and had two children, Gary and Lynn. Ed passed away in 1967, and Jane started a new career working for the Girl Scouts before working at the Bible Book Shop (owner), Grace Alliance Church and the Yellow Bus Children’s Shoppe. She spent her free time tatting and selling her work at craft fairs, traveling abroad, and volunteering. She loved to play games, bird-watch and follow the Minnesota Twins.

John Learman

John Learman ’46 on January 4, 2023. Jack attended Kalamazoo College, where he played varsity tennis, before serving in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II, after which he graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in industrial mechanical engineering. In 1951, he obtained a Juris Doctor degree from George Washington University Law School, where he met and married his loving wife, fellow law student Pat Lattimer. He received the Order of the Coif and practiced for over 50 years as an intellectual property lawyer. During his career, he served as a director of many civic and business organizations. Jack was a longtime winter resident of the John’s Island Club in Vero Beach, Florida, and a summer resident of Lake Huron’s Sanctuary Bay, north of Harrisville, Michigan, where he enjoyed downtime with four generations of extended family. He was preceded in death in 2022 by his wife of 71 years, Patricia Lattimer Learman. He is survived by three children and five grandchildren.

Alice Joyce (Bell) Brown

Alice Joyce (Bell) Brown ’47 on June 18, 2020, at home in Bloomington, Indiana. Alice graduated from Kalamazoo College with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in June 1947. She married Douglas Burton Brown in December 1946. The couple moved to Illinois, where Douglas studied for the ministry at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. During their nearly 62 years of marriage, Douglas pastored seven churches and served as general director of the Conservative Baptist Association of Pennsylvania for five years. After years of devoting herself to caring for their four children, Alice taught chemistry at Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte, Michigan, earned a master’s degree in guidance counseling from Eastern Michigan University, then served as a high school guidance counselor in Wyandotte and later as a middle school science teacher in Reed City, Michigan. Alice lived to give glory to God as a wife, mother and teacher. Her calm, cheerful and confident outlook on life strengthened and assisted her husband and was an example to all of diligence, excellence and contentment. She cultivated beauty and order in her surroundings and gratitude to God in her heart. Her reliance on the goodness and faithfulness of God was the foundation of her life. She was preceded in death by her husband, Douglas B. Brown. Alice is survived by four children, 15 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren.

Jane Leona (Richardson) Morgan

Jane Leona (Richardson) Morgan ’47 on July 26, 2023, in Tucson, Arizona. Jane was an insatiable, lifelong learner with a chemistry degree from Kalamazoo College and a Master of Science in library science from the University of Illinois Chicago Circle campus. Jane’s formal career was as a junior high school librarian for nearly 20 years in Park Forest, Illinois, District 163. She took great pride as the first to choose and introduce computer systems to the local schools in the early 1980s. Leisure time always included a good book. Family camping began in the early 1950s and evolved into backpacking, then RVing, traveling as far as Guatemala. Some kind of craft or sewing project could always be found underway. In Park Forest, Jane and her husband, Dean H. “Sar” Morgan ’49, were early members of the first United Protestant church in the world, Faith UP. In Sahuarita, Arizona, she and Sar literally helped to build Good Shepherd UCC. Finally, researching and finalizing the labyrinth at Rincon UCC in Tucson opened a new world for her. In each church, she actively participated in the Women’s Circle, book clubs, Bible studies and the choir. Jane was predeceased by her husband, Sar, of 56 years. Jane is survived by two daughters and a son, four grandchildren and four great-granddaughters.

Robert David Birkenmeyer

Robert David Birkenmeyer ’49 on July 9, 2023. Robert received his bachelor’s degree at K and his master’s in chemistry at Western Michigan University. He also served four years in the Navy as an airplane mechanic. Robert married his high school sweetheart, Mary Lou Wilhjelm ’47, on August 21, 1948. He was hired at The Upjohn Company as a research chemist and is credited with developing several well-known antibiotics. After a successful career, he retired from Upjohn in 1983. Robert enjoyed traveling with family and friends and had numerous beloved pets. He was active on the Galesburg school board, Galesburg ambulance, American Field Service exchange student program and Boy Scouts. Robert and Mary Lou lived in Ogden, Utah, for 15 years before moving back to Kalamazoo, where they resided in Friendship Village since 2009. Robert was active in woodworking, Wii bowling, the kitchen band and many other activities at Friendship Village. Robert was preceded in death by his wife in 2016. He is survived by his three children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, as well as two foreign exchange children.

Geraldine Virginia (Lee) Jones

Geraldine Virginia (Lee) Jones ’49 on June 7, 2023, at Juniper Village at Brookline Wellspring Memory Care in State College, Pennsylvania. Gerry earned a bachelor’s degree in music and applied violin from Kalamazoo College. She received a master’s degree from Andover Newton Theological Seminary in Christian education in 1951. In 1960, she obtained her teaching certificate from the University of Michigan. She worked as a kindergarten teacher in the Flint (Michigan) public schools and retired in 1990. Gerry actively pursued her love of classical music all her life. She was a committed member of various orchestras and many prestigious chorales, which gave her opportunities to travel the world and sing. Traveling the world with her family, grandchildren and friends was her great delight. Gerry counted her friends as true blessings and remembered her trips with them as a cherished joy. Gerry’s large family was the source of her deepest love. Gerry lived her life with purpose and in perpetual motion by doing, teaching, learning, voting, singing, traveling and loving. She actively sought fun, laughed easily and found joy. Gerry was preceded in death by her husband, Ralph Jones. She is survived by two daughters, three stepchildren, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Stanley John Chalmers ’51 on August 13, 2022. Stanley served in the U.S. Army. He then worked for General Motors for 40 years, retiring as the personnel director. He moved from Royal Oak, Michigan, to Sarasota, Florida, in 1989. He enjoyed reading, boating and spending time with his grandchildren. Stanley was predeceased by his wife, Sandy. Left to cherish his memory are his son, daughter, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Mary Jo (Rix) Horner ’51 on April 28, 2023, and Robert George Horner ’51 on September 5, 2023. Mary Jo and Robert met at Kalamazoo College, married in October 1951, and raised four daughters together in Battle Creek, Michigan. Bob enlisted in officer training shortly after their wedding and proudly served for four years during the Korean War. He then joined his father at the family car dealership, Horner-Coppin Chrysler Plymouth, where he worked for over 40 years, retiring in 1994. In retirement, Mary Jo and Bob enjoyed winters in Florida and travel to many wonderful places. Mary Jo enjoyed traveling, cooking, reading and playing bridge. She was a devoted volunteer for Leila Auxiliary/Bronson Battle Creek and St. Joseph Catholic Church Altar and Rosary Society. Bob loved being around people and socializing. He belonged to many business and social organizations over the years. He was a lifelong member of St. Joseph Catholic Church, helping with the Dad’s Club for many years. He enjoyed poker nights with the guys, playing bridge with friends and golfing. Most of all, both Mary Jo and Bob loved spending time with their family, which meant everything to them. When Mary Jo was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Bob faithfully and lovingly cared for her until her death. Mary Jo and Bob were preceded in death by their daughter, Martha. Surviving are three daughters, Carol, Nancy and Jean, four sons-in-law, 12 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren (with two more on the way).

Gloria (Wallace) Foster

Gloria (Wallace) Foster ’53 on October 31, 2022. Gloria received a B.A. in English from Kalamazoo College and subsequently an M.A. from Northwestern University. Gloria taught elementary students at Bach School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She later worked at the Health and Welfare Ministries of the United Methodist Church in Evanston, Illinois; the Institute for Living in Winnetka, Illinois; Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois; and the Mental Health Association in Evanston, Illinois. She also volunteered at the North Branch of the Evanston Public Library. Gloria was a longtime member of the Weavers Guild of the North Shore. Not only was she a proficient weaver, but she was accomplished in other textile arts. She was also an active gardener, enjoying the peace of her shady yard, where she grew a variety of native wildflowers as well as various shade-loving and pollinator-friendly plants. Throughout all, she remained a kind and gentle presence in the lives of those she touched and nurtured. She was predeceased by her husband, John (Jack) Foster ’52, in 2011. She is survived by their three children and a grandson.

Kenneth Lee Wendzel

Kenneth Lee Wendzel ’53 on July 14, 2023. He was a lifelong resident of Bainbridge Township, Michigan, and attended Kalamazoo College before he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1952. He trained to be a radio operator and served at Fort Eustis, Virginia, until he was honorably discharged. In 1956, he married Leola Weston, and they purchased an 80-acre farm where they raised their five children. He served as president of the Penn Yan school board until they consolidated with Watervliet Public Schools. In 1960, Ken went back to college at Indiana University to study income tax preparation and ran his own tax consulting business for 42 years. For 20 years, he also worked summers as a field man for Greg Orchards and Coloma Frozen Foods. In 1977, he sold the farm in order to concentrate on his tax business. Ken was elected a Berrien County commissioner in 1969 and served residents of his district for 30 years, including 20 years as chairman of the finance committee. He also served as a member of the Berrien County Building Authority and was a lifelong member of the Farm Bureau and the Michigan State Horticultural Society. At Salem Lutheran Church, Ken served as a Sunday school teacher as well as treasurer and president of the congregation. In 1981, he and Leola transferred to Grace Lutheran Church, where he served on the endowment committee. He enjoyed attending his grandchildren’s activities and sporting events and playing golf and fishing with his brother, Alton. Ken is survived by his loving wife of nearly 67 years, Leola; five children; 12 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Karen (Peterson) Fargo ’57 on December 20, 2022, in Wilmette, Illinois. Karen majored in history at Kalamazoo College.

Lois Jeanne (Meier) Williams

Lois Jeanne (Meier) Williams ’58 on July 24, 2023. Lois attended Kalamazoo College for two years. On September 6, 1957, she married Thomas Williams. She and Tom moved to Holland, Michigan, in 1964, where they raised four children. She worked for FMB and later Huntington Bank, retiring from there in 1998. She and Tom enjoyed traveling in their motor home and made many trips to northern Michigan. In the winter, they enjoyed cruising in the Caribbean. Many trips also were made with good friends to Las Vegas and local casinos—with the biggest winner buying dinner on the way home. Lois loved spending time with her family and friends. She was “mom” to many of her children’s friends, always welcoming them into her home. Preceding her in death were her husband, Tom, and granddaughter, Jennifer. She leaves behind longtime friend and companion Darrel Middlewood, with whom she reconnected in 2015, four children, 12 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Terry K. Brown ’59 on February 5, 2023.

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C. Peter Lillya ’59 on September 15, 2023. At K, he not only earned a B.A. in chemistry, he was also a member of the first group of Light Scholars to participate in the study abroad program, which eventually became a standard feature of a K education. As one of the first recipients of a National Science Foundation Fellowship at K, he earned a Ph.D. at Harvard University working with Nobel laureate E.J Corey. Peter then joined the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) Chemistry Department in 1963, where he spent his entire career. He remained an enthusiastic, supportive and involved colleague long after his formal retirement in 2002. Peter’s colleagues and students remember him as an inquisitive, caring and gracious member of the community, whose research interests spanned the intersection of polymer science and chemistry, and who embraced innovation. He remembered students who had only taken a course or two with him and remained friends with and celebrated the careers of his many graduate students. Even after retirement, he continued writing chemistry problems used by thousands of students both here and abroad on the University’s online web learning system. Peter was both a lifelong outdoorsman and athlete, pursuing hiking, camping, rock climbing and cycling. A love of travel took him around the globe, often visiting children in far-flung locations. A passion for arts, particularly music, made him a supporter and fan of many local arts organizations. His concern for justice and nature also led him to support political and nonpolitical causes, investigating issues for the League of Women Voters, being a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists and volunteering for local and statewide political campaigns. To the end of his life, Peter was devoted to his family and friends, loved good conversation and company, and remained curious about the world. He is survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Maija (Zadins) ’61; two children; and three grandchildren.

Julia Frances (Holmes) Ward

Julia Frances (Holmes) Ward ’59 on December 5, 2022, after battling Parkinson’s disease and dementia. Julia served as a counselor for three years in Northville, Michigan, then as a school counselor for three years in Fairbanks, Alaska, where she met Sam Ward, a retired Naval aviator who taught math and electronics at Lathrop High School. Julia and Sam married on December 18, 1971. Julia enjoyed fishing and the art of tatting, making countless doilies and bookmarks. Later, they moved to Kodiak Island, Alaska, to teach at Kodiak High School, and Julia gave birth to their son, David. After retiring from teaching in 1978, the family moved to a 120-acre farm near West Plains, Missouri, where they ran a small herd of Angus-crossed beef cattle, and Julia managed an extensive garden. Julia canned and preserved foods, baked bread and made her own butter and yogurt. She and Sam kept several hives of bees, processing their own honey, and maintained a small fruit orchard. From 1983 to 1985, the family lived in South America, serving as support staff for Wycliffe Bible Translators in the Peruvian jungle. Julia served as an elementary teacher while Sam repaired avionics and communications equipment for the pilots and translators. Julia’s authentic faith and love for others showed in her church and community involvement, teaching Sunday school and playing piano and organ. She served in several women’s organizations, including the Ladies Auxiliary of Gideons International, the Women’s Aglow Fellowship and the Order of the Eastern Star. Julia was preceded in death by her husband of nearly 40 years, Sam, and step-son, James Ward. Julia was the proud and loving grandmother of three grandchildren.

David G. Jacobs

David G. Jacobs ’60 on September 8, 2023. David was born in Kalamazoo to Ardell and Pauline (Kurtz) Jacobs ’24. While attending Kalamazoo College, he met the love of his life, Sandra Haefner, in her hometown of Decatur, Michigan. David later transferred to Western Michigan University to join Sandy, and they were married June 16, 1962. After a short stint as an accountant, David was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the United States Air Force and became a weapons controller. This was the beginning of an outstanding career, which spanned 22 years, taking him to numerous locations around the world, including Michigan, Mississippi, South Dakota, the Philippines, Texas, Australia, New Mexico, Korea, and Florida, where David eventually retired in 1984, with the rank of major. After retirement, David owned and managed several rental properties. David and Sandy had an abundance of friends and enjoyed bowling, dancing, kayaking, playing cards and traveling in their recreational vehicle. David was preceded in death by his brother, his sister, Mardell Arent ’51, and his son Steven. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Sandy Jacobs, his daughter, Kathy, his son Scott, and four grandchildren.

Dan Charles Pell

Dan Charles Pell ’63 on July 12, 2023. Dan received a football scholarship to Kalamazoo College, where he played for three years before joining the Army. Stationed at a missile site near Gruenstadt, Germany, he married the love of his life, Ann Meyle, on January 15, 1965. The adventurous couple embarked on a European journey, exploring the continent on a tight budget of $5 a day in their $250 Volkswagen Beetle. Upon returning to Plainwell, Michigan, Dan pursued a career as an electrician and became a proud father to two sons. Known for his resourcefulness, Dan undertook various projects, taking particular pride in constructing a mortise and pegs barn entirely by hand, using lumber salvaged from a dismantled barn. Everyone liked Dan; he was quiet, always had a smile on his face and never had an unpleasant word for anyone. Dan helped sons Jack and Jim with their athletic careers, playing basketball in the driveway, throwing the football around the backyard, and baseball catching while Jack practiced pitching and Jim worked on his swing. Dan was preceded in death by his beloved granddaughter, Cassaundra. He is survived by his wife, Ann; two sons; six grandchildren; his adored great-grandchildren; and his constant companion, his dog, Sunshine.

Raymond Stowell Blanford

Raymond Stowell Blanford ’64 on August 25, 2023. Ray majored in math at Kalamazoo College and joined the Army in 1966. He was stationed in Washington, D.C., when he met Sue while playing football outside their apartments. They were married in Lansing, Michigan, in 1967. After his military service, he was trained as a computer programmer and embarked on a lifelong career as a systems engineer and software developer, ultimately working for Northrop Grumman for 30 years on U.S. government contracts. He was a well-respected expert in the industry and became indispensable to his colleagues, finally retiring in 2022. Ray was devoted to his family and loved sharing every occasion with them, big or small. He was an ever-present supporter, playmate, consoler, joke-teller and source of wisdom. He was kind, sincere, generous and never put himself first. He volunteered for his church, neighborhood and his son’s schools. He was an exquisite present wrapper, cookie decorator and pumpkin carver. He was up for anything. He loved to travel, especially to see his grandchildren. He cared deeply about the people around him and always made sure they knew. A longtime resident of Annandale, Virginia, he is survived by his wife of 56 years, Susan Ward Blanford; his sister, Ellen Anne Teghtmeyer ’66; his son; and two grandchildren.

Keith L. Bekofske

Keith L. Bekofske ’65 on August 27, 2023. Keith was a 1965 graduate of Kalamazoo College, majoring in physics as part of the 3/2 program in engineering with the University of Michigan. He received his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan. Keith retired to Clearwater, Florida, where he enjoyed traveling and being a math tutor for many years. Keith is survived by his wife, Eileen McBride Bekofske; two daughters; and four grandchildren; as well as two brothers, including Carl Bekofske ’64 (Karen Glomp ’63); and nieces and nephews, including Nancy (Bekofske) Walkup ’95 and Laura (Bekofske) Fritz ’91.

Galen K. Pletcher

Galen K. Pletcher ’65 on September 21, 2023. Galen majored in philosophy at K and earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy at the University of Michigan. He taught philosophy and comparative religion for 45 years at the University of Michigan, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, and the State University of New York College at Potsdam. In the latter institution, he also served as dean of arts and sciences. He is survived by his wife, Helen Main McLean Pletcher. His first wife, Cecilie Ann Sewejkis, died in 2003, and their two children survive. He is also survived by his sister, Pat Conway ’72.

Richard C. Brandt ’66 on August 27, 2023, in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Richard graduated from Kalamazoo College with a B.A. in economics and received an M.B.A. in marketing and operations research from Columbia University in 1968. His extensive career focused on new product development first for Proctor & Gamble, and then for pharmaceutical companies, including Abbott Laboratories/Ross Division, Bausch & Lomb and Dahlberg (Miracle Ear Division). Later in life, Richard owned a Cottman Transmission franchise in East Syracuse, New York. Along with his quiet philanthropy, Richard’s unassailable business acumen and enthusiasm for new ideas left an enduring mark on those fortunate enough to cross his path. During his time at Ross, Richard met and married Carol E. Severance (1949–2012) and they had two children. Richard is survived by his son, his daughter and two grandchildren.

Mark Eugene Sutter

Mark Eugene Sutter ’66 on June 1, 2023, unexpectedly. In the early 1960s, after a year at Kalamazoo College, Mark joined his parents and siblings in Palo Alto, California, and completed his B.A. at San Jose State. He had a long and successful career as a quality assurance manager in the manufacturing and defense industries. In 1977, Mark married Dale Dunlap; they eventually became a family of five, establishing residency in Mountain View. Throughout his children’s school years, Mark generously volunteered his time to many extracurricular activities and committees. He possessed a quick wit, a fantastic recall for details and a sharp sense of humor. He was the go-to guy for any family member or friend who needed help building or fixing anything, and his passing leaves a void that cannot be filled. Mark leaves behind many loving family members and friends, who will forever miss his corny jokes, silly songs and remarkable mechanical superpowers.

Gretchen VanAtta Loro ’68 on July 25, 2023, after a long illness. Gretchen had a very interesting life and many adventures, including meeting and marrying a Latvian mussel fisherman and living on one of the Frisian islands in the North Sea. After her first husband passed away, Gretchen returned to the United States and met and married her second husband, Antonio Loro, a well-respected art appraiser, restorer and artist. Gretchen was a talented artist in her own right and exhibited her work in several galleries in Houston. Her husband passed away while they lived in San Diego, and then she moved back to The Woodlands, Texas, to be near her sister, Mary VanAtta Kelly ’66. She will be greatly missed, especially for her very dry but very quick sense of humor.

Judith Lee O’Loughlin ’70 on September 21, 2023. Judith was born to John ’43 and Maxine ’44 Dam and attended Kalamazoo College before embarking on a long journey of travel in order to be a woman of the world. She ended up in Staten Island, New York, where she met Eddie O. Her charm was irresistible to Ed, and they were soon married. They lived a long and happy life together, full of travel, music, friends, family and laughter. Judith graduated from the College of Staten Island with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and began master’s coursework in gerontology before she became pregnant with her only child, Meghan. Judith later returned to the workforce and was most noted for her work with Community Agency for Senior Citizens. Judith was an active member of Brighton Heights Reformed Church in Staten Island, where she ran the soup kitchen every weekend and led community outreach programs to support individuals living in poverty, then became an active member of St. John’s Lutheran Church. Judith and Ed moved to Poughkeepsie, New York, where she enjoyed her love of birds, nature and gardening. Judith encouraged her grandchildren to be creative and artistic and taught them to make a mess because life was too short to worry about it. Judy will rest in eternity with her husband, Edward, whom she lost just 10 months before her death. Judith is survived by her daughter and two grandchildren.

Daniel Jon Strehl ’70 on August 3, 2023, in Tucson, Arizona. He worked for many years for the Los Angeles Public Library. Dan had a lifelong interest in gourmet cooking and African art (after study abroad in Sierra Leone) and was survived by his beloved parrot, Charlie.

James R. Hodges II

James R. Hodges II ’73 on March 23, 2022. Jim’s career started in St. Louis, Missouri, and eventually landed him in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he was the owner of Invisible Fence of the Prairie for many years. This incorporated his love of dogs with his desire to be his own boss. He had recently retired and was enjoying planning trips and catching up with friends and family. Throughout his life, Jim was always involved with dogs, through kennel clubs, breeding dogs or installing invisible fences to keep dogs safe in their yards. Jim also enjoyed writing poetry and all things historical or political. Grateful to have shared in his life are his daughter, son, granddaughter and grandson.

John Wagner

John Wagner ’73 on October 31, 2022. Intelligent, inquisitive and with a wry sense of humor, John never shied away from supporting the underdog and putting his efforts toward doing the right thing. For 32 years, he educated and coached high school students. Beyond being a teacher of mathematics and English, he was passionate about problem-solving, curiosity, developing relationships, and preparing good humans to go out into the world. John courageously fought his own demons during his life, and he went on to support many others through 12-step programs and grief groups. He was nonjudgmental and open to hearing everyone’s story, and people freely told him theirs. John’s generosity will be missed by all those who were lucky enough to be taught, coached, tutored, fed and loved by him. He leaves behind a heartbroken family, including his wife, Jill Stefani Wagner, daughter and son-in-law, and four grandchildren.

Steven Kimberly Jackson

Steven Kimberly Jackson ’80 on June 16, 2023. Steven graduated from Kalamazoo College before moving to Bisbee, Arizona, and later settling in Tucson, where he taught high school and fulfilled a dream of coaching a sports team. Steven had a passion, combined with precision, for building. He and his brother, Kevin, completed a summer cabin and a magnificent barn on family property outside of Northport, Michigan. After retiring from Caliber Funding, where he worked in IT, he continued refining his building skills, renovating his home in historic Armory Park. With his heart set on creating a design of his own, he fell in love with a wild piece of land in Groom Creek, outside of Prescott, Arizona. Surrounded by good neighbors, he began building his cabin in his methodical and practical style that always yielded a satisfying and elegant beauty. Steven often hiked the trails out past the Desert Museum and camped up high on Mount Lemon. He wholeheartedly loved being outdoors. He took his love of sports and the outdoors to the golf course, improving his game in his relentless way. Steven is survived by his daughter and siblings.

Veronica (Horter) Mutchler

Veronica (Horter) Mutchler ’91 on June 20, 2023, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Roni graduated from Kalamazoo College with a degree in biology. She performed her Senior Integrated Project at The Upjohn Company in Kalamazoo, which led to her first job as a research scientist. She later worked at the Van Andel Institute and Zoetis. Roni was dedicated to her career and well-respected by her colleagues. She enjoyed a challenge and welcomed opportunities to learn and broaden her knowledge of both human and animal health. Roni met Joe Mutchler, the love of her life, during her sophomore year at K. They married soon after graduation and built a beautiful life together, which included three wonderful children, Nicole, Ryan and Grace. She was a dedicated wife and mother, maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal life. Roni was an exceptional hostess and truly enjoyed entertaining. Her other favorite activities included swimming in her pool, beach time and sunsets at Lake Michigan, kayaking, spending time with family and friends, and working in the yard. Ever true to her Catholic faith, Roni was selfless and always put the needs of others before her own. Roni’s courage and strength inspired those around her. She faced the gravities of cancer with a resilient and hopeful spirit, keeping her beautiful smile and kind heart through it all. She was very loved and will be greatly missed. In her memory, Roni’s K friends have created a scholarship, Roni’s Friends, to benefit a student who has been touched directly or indirectly by cancer. Classmates who would like to contribute to or learn more about the Roni’s Friends Scholarship may contact Mitch Veldkamp ’91 at

Faculty, Staff and Friends of the College

Nanette Beaton

Nanette Beaton on August 27, 2023. Nanette married John Beaton in 1954, and they emigrated from Scotland to the U.S. They settled in Kalamazoo, where she volunteered for Planned Parenthood and worked for the Kalamazoo Nature Center before joining the staff of Kalamazoo College, working there until her retirement in 1993. She had a pragmatic outlook and valued her independence, while delighting in everyday joys like fresh flowers and oatmeal cookies. Nanette was an avid naturalist and artist who loved quiet time, intellectual pursuits, reading, spending time with grandkids and great-grandkids, and exercise and sports, including tennis, golf, yoga and downhill skiing. She was preceded in death by her husband, John. Surviving are her three children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Alan E. Schwartz after sunset on July 27, 2023. A trustee of the College from 1969-1972, Alan was a founder and partner at Honigman LLP as well as a business, civic and Jewish community leader in Detroit for more than half a century. He was known for his brilliance, elegance, public service, ability to create consensus, sound advice, business acumen, and deep love of community, arts, the Jewish faith, and family, especially his wife of 67 years, Marianne. Alan was inducted into the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit Hall of Fame in 1984 and named a Detroit News Michiganian of the Year in 1987. In 2013, then Detroit Mayor Dave Bing created the Alan E. Schwartz Award, making him the first recipient of the award given annually to an individual in recognition of outstanding commitment to community service. Alan was predeceased by his wife, Marianne Shapero Schwartz. He is survived by three children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

George M. Nielsen on September 14, 2023. George was born in Wadsworth, Ohio, in 1934. After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University, George earned a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1963, he joined the faculty of Kalamazoo College as an assistant professor in the mathematics department. He was named associate professor in 1970, and professor in 1982. George taught mathematics at K for 36 years, also serving as an international student advisor for 20 of those years.

George was known for his sincere interest in all his students. In 1988, students selected George as the recipient of the prestigious Frances Diebold Award in honor of his involvement with the student body. He made numerous trips to Detroit to help solve visa difficulties, attended weddings, sent notes of congratulations on achievements, and kept in touch with many students after graduation. George served on numerous faculty committees, led senior class processionals and participated in the awarding of honorary degrees as faculty marshal, and attended countless College functions, including lectures, music, theatre and sporting events, alumni receptions and special events. He graciously opened his home to welcome former faculty, staff and students when they returned to Kalamazoo, often providing transportation to and from the airport. In 1995, George received the Weimer K. Hicks Award, which honors a current or retired employee of the College who has provided long-term support to the College beyond the call of duty, or who has provided excellent service in the performance of his or her job. George retired from Kalamazoo College in 1999.

George Nielsen with a student
George Nielsen on the phone
George Nielsen on the quad

Kathleen White Smith on March 18, 2023. Born Kathleen Nora White in Chicago, her parents Richard Joseph White and Grace Mary (Colburn) White descended from Irish immigrants. Her father was a salesman, and her mother a kindergarten teacher. Growing up on Chicago’s north side, Kathy attended Our Lady of Mercy School and Immaculata High School. In most summers, she enjoyed Chicago Cubs (close to home) and White Sox (across town) baseball games with her father and visiting her mother’s cousin and her family in Waupaca, Wisconsin. For her undergraduate education, Kathy was a student at Mundelein College, located on the shore of Lake Michigan, where she pursued majors in French and history and graduated summa cum laude in 1967. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. Kathy remained forever grateful for the mentorship of Professor Elsa Copeland, who instilled in her a lifelong love of French language and culture. Awarded a Fulbright Fellowship, Kathy spent the 1967–1968 academic year at the Université d’Aix-Marseille in France and traveled extensively throughout Europe. (She was heavily exposed to tear gas in riots in Paris in 1968.) She undertook graduate study at the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a focus on 20th-century French literature, earning her Ph.D. in 1973.

In that year, Kathy began her academic career at Kalamazoo College, where she rose to the rank of professor of romance languages and literature. She taught courses in French language and literature, first-year (writing) seminars, and, in her early years, Italian language. She served for many years as chair of the Division of Foreign Languages. Kathy was awarded the Florence J. Lucasse Lectureship for Outstanding Teaching in 1993, the highest honor bestowed by the College on its teaching faculty members. She was also the first professor appointed to the rotating position of associate provost at the College. Kathy presented numerous papers at professional conferences and often organized or moderated panel discussions. Her scholarship encompassed trauma and historical memory (motivated in part by the presence of Holocaust survivors in her girlhood Chicago neighborhood) and immigration. She spent sabbatical leaves at Harvard University and in Strasbourg, France. Kathy received fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, Camargo Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities and others. In later years, Kathy provided color commentary (history and culture) during trips to France for large and small groups.

When Kathy joined the faculty of the College, she was one of a small number of female professors and administrators. She never forgot the guidance of senior colleagues, especially Eleanor Pinkham and Caroline Ham. In turn, during her years as a senior faculty member, Kathy became an indispensable model, mentor, ally and friend to women across the College community. Throughout much of her career, Kathy gave well-received talks in Stetson Chapel. She was a much sought-after advocate for younger professors seeking tenure and promotion. Kathy retired from the faculty in 2019.

In 1984, Kathy married Tom Smith, another Kalamazoo College professor, in Stetson Chapel. That was the beginning of a happy 38-year union. Kathy and Tom often traveled to the other’s professional meetings, and they spent sabbatical leaves together. She was welcomed into Tom’s extended family and enjoyed trips to visit his relatives. Kathy looked forward to spending time at their cabin in the North Woods of Michigan, where she was surprised by how much she loved being surrounded by nature. Other interests included visiting with faculty colleagues and current and former students, hanging out with their dogs, reading mysteries, gardening and cooking, knitting, photography, and sports (watching, that is).

In January 2023, Kathy was diagnosed with vascular dementia. She died from cardiac arrest in March. Tom was with her in the hospital as she left this life. She will be greatly missed by friends and family and remembered especially for her quick mind, kindness and humor. A celebration of her life was held on September 30, 2023, on the Kalamazoo College campus.

Kathy Smith in front of a blackboard
Kathy Smith with students reading a book
Kathy Smith in graduation garb

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