Category Archives: 1930s

George E. Bria ’34

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George E. Bria died March 18, 2017.  He was 101.

He is survived by his second wife, Arlette Philippous Brauer, son John Bria of Pound Ridge, NY, daughter Judy Storey of Columbia, MD, two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

To read about George’s life and his career as an Associated Press newsman, please visit:

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/03/18/us/ap-us-obit-bria.html

 

 

 

 

Ethel Ham Palmer ’33

palmerEthel Ham “Peggy” Palmer died peacefully at home on September 21, 2016 at the age of 100. Born to Charles and Ethel Ham in Flatbush, Brooklyn, she had two brothers, Charles and Ralph, who both predeceased her. Her husband, Dwight O. Palmer, Jr., predeceased her in 1987. She is survived by her nieces, Susan and Carolyn. Peggy graduated from Jamaica High School in 1933. A 1937 graduate of Smith College with a degree in Sociology, Peggy then attended the Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School. As a legal secretary at Western Union, she met her late husband, a public relations executive, and married in 1951. They first resided in Ridgewood, NJ, and then moved to Wyckoff, NJ, in 1954. Peggy was a member of the West Side Presbyterian Church, the Wyckoff Women’s Club, the Valley Hospital Auxiliary and volunteered for The Seeing Eye, training eight puppies. Peggy loved playing bridge with her friends and UpWords with her nieces.

Esther Winn Krebs ’38

KrebsGREENFIELD – Esther Winn Krebs, born August 2, 1920, died peacefully at home on July 3, 2016, just one month shy of her 96th birthday. She was born in Karuizawa, Japan, the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries Rowena (Hudson) Winn and Merle Winn.
Esther lived in Kanazawa, Japan until she was seven and then returned to the United States when her father became ill. Upon his death, her mother settled with Esther and her two brothers, Hudson and Peter, in Northampton, MA. Esther graduated from Northampton School for Girls (now Williston – Northampton) and then went on to Smith College, graduating in 1942 with a degree in economics.
On August 8, 1942 in Carmel, CA she married her true love, Max Vance Krebs. He was a Princeton University honors graduate, whom she met during her freshman year of college while visiting her mother in Cincinnati, OH. During World War II, the couple lived in Oakland, CA where Max was stationed with the army.
After the war in 1947, Max was accepted into the U.S. Foreign Service and for the next 29 years Max and Esther served as a “”diplomatic team””, living and working in 9 different countries. Their first post was Montevideo, Uruguay where their daughter Marlynn was born just 3 months after they arrived. From there they went to Bogota, Colombia and Antwerp, Belgium. In 1955, they moved to Bethesda, MD for a “”home duty”” stint at the Dept. of State. This was where their son Timothy was born in 1957. Their home duty was extended due to Max’s assignment as special assistant to Secretary of State Christian Herter.
In 1961, they returned to their diplomatic life abroad, moving to Manila, Philippine Islands, then Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, followed by Guatemala City, Guatemala, then the Panama Canal Zone, Panama and Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 1973, Max was appointed Ambassador to Guyana where they lived in the capital city of Georgetown. This post was the culmination of their distinguished career. In 1976, Max and Esther retired from the Foreign Service and settled in the quiet golf community of Foxfire Village, NC, located near Pinehurst, NC.
Esther was deeply invested in her life as a diplomat’s wife. She and Max strongly believed that they were equal partners in this career, a dedicated and interdependent team. This was the Foreign Service ethos in those days and Esther had all the qualities that made her a successful example of what the diplomat’s wife could contribute. Esther took on the many challenges of this life with her characteristic gusto, strong sense of humor and positive, take-charge attitude. She saw any challenges as adventure. She once said about this Foreign Service life, “”I made up my mind I would enjoy it, and I did!””
She was skilled at gracefully adapting to the nuances of a new culture, finding a new home, settling her family and setting up a household, all while learning a new language, which she did with almost every new post. She was an accomplished hostess, conversationalist, event planner and cook. Entertaining was a primary way that diplomats established relationships with important people in the country. Esther planned events for over 500 people, often teaching the cook how to prepare special dishes. She was accomplished at putting people at ease and her conversations with dignitaries showed her knowledge of the country, the culture and current events. She was known for her honest and intelligent interactions that showed care and respect for other values and cultural backgrounds. Esther was also an excellent leader, organizing and running many large charity events that benefited the infrastructure and those most in need in the country where she was posted. Her leadership style was to empower the people she worked with and build their skills and competence.
In her retirement years, Esther continued her life of service. As part of the Woodrow Wilson Fellow program, Esther and Max visited 9 small liberal arts colleges for a week at a time, talking with students about the pleasures and perils of living and working overseas. She loved the arts and served on the board of The Arts Council of Moore County in Southern Pines, NC for more than 10 years. She also served as its president for several years. She was instrumental in supporting the start of her local North Carolina chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and was its president for several years.
Esther was a multi-talented woman with many interests that filled her life. She was an accomplished singer and performer. She was a member of the Smith College Glee Club, sang with her church choir wherever she was, performed for charity events abroad and at home, and organized female barbershop quartets whenever she could. She was an excellent seamstress and knitter and made many clothes for herself and her family through the years. She loved the game of tennis and played it most every day in retirement. She was an avid and dangerous bridge player as many can attest. She loved to cook and when she retired she was thrilled to be able to finally grow her own garden! In spite of 29 years of travel, Esther and Max continued to have wanderlust and toured many of the parts of Europe and the Middle East that they had never visited. Through Esther’s love of art and her years of travel abroad, she was able to collect beautiful and interesting artifacts, art and furniture. Her home was like a museum.
In 1998, Esther and Max moved to Belle Meade Retirement Community in Southern Pines, NC. In 2006, Max, her husband of 63 years, died after suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease for 9 years. During those very difficult years Esther was devoted to caring for him. In 2010, Esther moved back to Massachusetts to be with her daughter and son. She was very fond of saying that after traveling the world, she had now come full circle, returning to the home where she began as a young girl.
Esther was an elegant woman who lived a rich and full life yet remained unpretentious and generous. She so often thought of others first. She was loved and admired by all those whose lives she touched, and she touched many. Once in reflecting on her life she said, “”It was exciting and rewarding while full of hard work, but as the Bible says ‘everything I have given, I have received a thousand times.'”” That was Esther Winn Krebs.
Esther leaves her daughter, Marlynn K. Clayton and her husband Garry Krinsky of Greenfield; her son, Timothy Krebs of Greenfield; her grandson, Sasha Clayton of Washington, DC; and her favorite adoring grandpuppy, Frankie. In addition to her husband, she was predeceased by her two brothers and their wives, Hudson and Nancy Winn of Slingerlands, NY and Peter and Sylvia Winn of Cambridge, MA.
Her family would like to thank Hospice of Franklin County and especially Debbie Piela for their care and support in these last months; the Eventide Singers for bringing Esther the peace and joy of music; and her wonderful caregivers from the Arbors, her devoted private care team, Linda Clarke, Shirley Underwood, and especially, Nancy Wheeler who took care of her with great love for 6+ years.

Dorothy Warner Sills ’38

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Dorothy “Dorie” Margaret Warner Sills, 1920-2016, died in Wilmette, Illinois on Sunday, June 5. She was a resident of Evanston, Winnetka, Wilmette and Wayne, Illinois, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Dallas, Texas, and Washington, D.C. She attended North Shore Country Day School, Northampton School for Girls in Easthampton, Mass. and Sarah Lawrence College in New York. She married Clarence William Sills Jr. in June 1941 and was later married to Frank Ryburn Jr. of Dallas, Texas. She led an active life, from volunteer nursing during and after World War II, heading the annual Wayne Art Show and one of her favorite activities – running the annual Christmas pageant at the Little Home Church by the Wayside in Wayne. She worked as an interior decorator for a number of years. She loved Chicago and regularly attended the theater, ballet, symphony, art shows and was an avid museum goer. She belonged to the Women’s Athletic Club, Dunham Woods Riding Club, and Lake Geneva Yacht Club. She was a devoted member of the First Congregational Church of Wilmette. She spent a lifetime gathering friends who remained devoted to her through thick and thin. She loved to entertain and did it often and well. Dorie wanted to be and always was at the head of the parade. She was a great story teller and wonderful poet of family events. She is predeceased by her beloved parents Dorothy Haskins Warner and Rawleigh Warner and her sisters, Mary Clifford and Suzanne Kenly, and brother Rawleigh Warner Jr. She is survived by five children, Peter (Andrea), Gay, Hilary and Casey (Anne) and step-son Frank S. Ryburn (Mary Jane) as well as in-laws Elizabeth Sills and Bill Hoar; eight grandchildren; and seven great grandchildren. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews who remember her with great love and affection.

Frank Conant ’35

Frank ConantFrank Priest Conant, 98, of Easthampton, died Wednesday, March 2, 2016, in his home.

He was born Oct. 28, 1917, in Littleton, the son of the late Harold W. and Dorothy Priest Conant. He was a graduate of Williston Academy class of 1935 and Wesleyan University class of 1939.

He was vice president of International Operations for the United Elastic Corporation retiring in 1969, then becoming a trust officer at the First National Bank of Northampton retiring in 1977.

Frank served in the army during World War II; a Massachusetts National Guard member federalized one day after Pearl Harbor. He served for the duration of the war, five years to the day, attaining the rank of major.

He was a member of Southampton Congregational Church, UCC serving as a church leader in various capacities. He was a trustee of Williston Academy and Williston-Northampton School in Easthampton, Ferrum College in Virginia, and Childs Park in Northampton. He served on numerous Southampton school and building committees and the cemetery commission. He was also a member of the American Legion, Franklin Harvest Club and Easthampton Rotary Club. He was the author of several local historical books including “God’s Steward” a history of Williston Academy.

Frank was predeceased by wife Jessie Phillips Conant who died in 1944 and by wife Ruby Bowlin Conant who died in 2002. He is survived by two sons, Dale B. Conant of Martinsburg, West Virginia, and John W. Conant (Sally) of South Deerfield, and two daughters, Ann C. Leatherman (Stephen) of Indianapolis, Indiana, and the Rev. Mary P. Conant (Robin) of Sunol, California; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by two sisters, Elizabeth C. Cook and Lucy H. Conant.

Phyllis “Bunny” Gavin Robinson ’37

Phyllis Gasvin RobinsonPhyllis “Bunny” Gavin Robinson, a social worker, died on February 29, 2016 in Sarasota, Florida. She was 95. The cause of death was dementia.

When she was born, her grandfather, Milo Whitaker, remarked that she looked like a cute little bunny. Thus, she got her nickname, which she used all her life. Bunny attended the Northampton School For Girls, Class of 1937. Her aunt was Sarah B. Whitaker, one of the founders of Northampton School For Girls. Following graduation she went to Smith College where she graduated cum laude with a degree in economics in 1941. During World War II, Bunny volunteered for the Red Cross and served on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.

Following the war, she married John Parker Robinson, whom she had known since childhood. As a US Embassy spouse she lived in Paris and Madrid during the reconstruction of Europe under the Marshall Plan. She also lived in Santiago, Chile, before returning to Washington, D.C. where they were divorced in 1965. She then redefined herself by getting a master’s degree in social work at the University of Maryland and subsequently worked in social services around Washington, D.C. and later in Montpelier, Vermont. In 1989, she moved to Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida. She enjoyed painting and traveling. She has always been known for her keen sense of humor and directness.

She is survived by three sons, Philip Gavin Robinson ‘66, John Preble Robinson ’68, and his wife Aya, and James Milo Robinson ’74 and his wife JoAnn, and one sister Caroline Preble Arnold ’47. Bunny also had four grandchildren, Margaret, Bridget, John and Patrick, as well three great grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made in Bunny’s memory to Sarah B. Whitaker Memorial Scholarship Fund at Williston Northampton School at 19 Payson Avenue, Easthampton, Massachusetts 01027. She will be interred in Norton, Massachusetts at a later date.

Phoebe Ferris McCoy ’37

ferrisPhoebe Ferris McCoy died peacefully on November 4th in Greenbrae, California. She was 96.

Phoebe’s keen intelligence, enthusiasm and joy were the foundation of her life. Whether she was Mother Nature at her grandson’s school, or hosting the Dalai Lama at the Sacred Art of Tibet Exhibit at the Asian Art Museum, or running her own winery, she brought a gracious zest to whatever she undertook. Notable for limericks, poetry and obscure songs from the 1930s she maintained her sense of humor and many friendships until the end.

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Janet Wolfe ’32

Janet Wolfe passed away peacefully November 30 at home surrounded by her loving family. She was 101 years old.

Born in NYC in 1914, Janet attended Dalton, Ethical Culture, and the Northampton School for Girls.

During WWII, she served in the American Red Cross in Rome. After the war, she worked with Roberto Rosselini on Paisan, toured with Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater, and taught the rhumba to Arthur Murray.

She married composer Sandy Matlovsky in 1952 and had two daughters, Alisa and Deborah.

Throughout the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, Janet was the inspiration for a series of short stories in the New Yorker’s Talk of The Town. In 1971, she founded the NYCHA Symphony Orchestra, giving opportunity and visibility to classical musicians of color. She served as its executive director for over 40 years.

Janet is survived by her two adoring daughters and two beloved grandsons, Jake and Sam.