Tag Archives: Class of 1941

Bruce Nicholson VanLeer ’41

Bruce VanLeer, a longtime resident of Warwick, NY, passed peacefully away on May 2, 2020 at Park Manor Rehabilitation Center, Middletown. She was 96 years old.
Born in Hingham, MA, she was the daughter of the late Grace (Catton) and Roger Nicholson.
Bruce was a Licensed Practical Nurse with the Visiting Nurse Services of Long Island, NY.
Bruce was an avid birdwatcher and gardener. She also enjoyed art.
Married to the late William VanLeer, she is survived by her daughters, Sally Woglom and her husband, Thom of Warwick, NY, Anne Ekberg of Holden, MA, and Allison Millstein and her husband, Jeffrey of Milford, PA; six grandchildren: David Woglom, Abigail Meigh, Bonnie Woglom, Kate Laramee, Anna Millstein and Katherine Everson; and five great-grandchildren. She was also predeceased by son-in-law, William Ekberg.
The family would like to thank all of those who cared for Bruce at Park Manor during her final days.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Warwick Community Ambulance Service Inc., P.O. Box 315, Warwick, NY.
Private arrangements have been made by Lazear-Smith & Vander Plaat Memorial Home, 17 Oakland Avenue, Warwick, NY.

Ruth Jeffers Wellington ’41

Ruth Jeffers Wellington died peacefully in her sleep July 25, 2019 at her beloved “Yellow House” in Pike, NH. She was 96. Her winning smile, outgoing temperament, and boundless enthusiasm for life were obvious to all who met her.
Ruth was born at Cottage Hospital in Woodsville, NH, the daughter of Weston and Ethel Jeffers, and moved to Northampton, MA when very young. After schooling at the Northampton School for Girls she graduated from Smith College where she met her future husband, Stephen Wellington of Boston, MA. Shortly after their marriage in 1946 the couple settled in Newton, MA where they raised 5 children. But they made a summer home in Pike, NH at her family’s long-time homestead on Jeffers Hill Road where they ultimately retired in 1972.
She was a tireless volunteer and leader for women, education and the arts. She volunteered for many years for Smith College, rising to the role of Board Member and President of the Alumnae Association. She was a member of the first NH Commission on the Status of Women which led to the initial State-supported services for battered women. She was a founding member of the Women’s Fund of NH and a long-time Board member at the Circle Program–a mentoring and summer-camp program for at-risk girls. She was an early supporter of the Montshire Museum of Science; a Board Member at Canterbury Shaker Village; Board Chair at the Hopkins Center/Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College; and President of River City Arts, the precursor of Northern Stage and igniter of the creative renaissance of White River Jct, VT. Even into her 80s and 90s she continued her community involvement as a supporter of Haverhill Heritage, the Historical Society, and the Drug Court where she was a frequent attendee of graduation ceremonies.
Despite these many commitments, Ruth remained devoted to her life at the 1895 Yellow House in Pike. The house was originally part of her great-grandfather’s dairy farm, now owned by son Weston. For 25 years Ruth and Steve raised Hereford cattle and produced up to 90 gallons of maple syrup each spring.
A true matriarch, she was intimately involved in the lives of her five children, nine grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. She so enjoyed parties and nothing made her happier than a gathering of family and friends, large or small.
She adored New Orleans-style jazz and, in her later years, she traveled repeatedly to jazz festivals in Florida and New Orleans where she eagerly sought out prominent musicians for conversation and autographs. Closer to home, she frequented jazz performances in Massachusetts and NH, forming friendships with many of the performers.
For her family and friends she epitomized family and community values. To the very end, she kept making new friends of all ages, connecting to people from many different backgrounds. She shared with so many an uninhibited affection for life as it should be lived. Her infectious joy, compassion, and gratitude were an unfailing embrace that swept you up and made you want to come back again and again.
On the porch of her Yellow House this past June, celebrating her 96th birthday surrounded by 21 family members, she exhorted those present to revel in the joy that is all around us. “Take note”, she said, “of all the wonders!”

George N. Bissell ’41

George N. Bissell, age 96, of Bridgeport, CT, a WWII veteran and self-employed business man, passed away on Monday, April 30, 2018. He was born in Bridgeport and was a lifelong resident.
He is survived by his wife, Marilyn Bissell; his four children, Jay Bissell, Rebecca Rothenbulher, Elizabeth Ibos and Dr. Andrew Ziller; his daughter-in-law, Mary Ziller and his nine grandchildren. He was predeceased by his son, David Ziller.

John M. Gibbons ’41

Captain John M. Gibbons of North Falmouth, MA, passed away peacefully at home on May 8, 2018 surrounded by his loving family. He was the husband of the late Doris (McGavin) Gibbons; the two had been married for 56 years at the time of her passing in 2003. He was 95.

John Gibbons grew up in Granville, MA and graduated from Williston Academy in 1941. Having an ambition to attend Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA), he worked at Colt Firearms in Hartford, Connecticut, earning much needed money to assist his widowed mother. Granted admission in December of 1943, John arrived at the Hyannis campus for a war time accelerated matriculation that included sea days aboard the SS AMERICAN PILOT cruising in Long Island Sound. After graduating in May 1944, John was commissioned and immediately deployed as Assistant Navigator and Boat Officer aboard the USS PRESIDENT HAYES (APN 20). He was promoted to Navigator during deployment in the Pacific. Serving during the Leyte Gulf landings, John witnessed General Douglas wade ashore and earned the Asiatic Pacific 1 Star and American Area Victory Philippine Liberation 2 Stars amongst other honors. It was aboard the President Hayes, he met Doris McGavin. She was serving as a commissioned Navy Nurse. They were married on August 1, 1946 in the Navy Chapel on Treasure Island in San Francisco. The couple moved to Holbrook, MA that September.

John joined Pocahontas Steamship Lines as Second Mate aboard the coal collier SS JONANCY in May of 1947 – thus beginning a 30-year career that included promotion to master in 1952. In 1967 Captain Gibbons joined Maritime Overseas Corporation as Master aboard bulk carriers and tankers. The walls of Captain John M. Gibbons’ North Falmouth home tell the tale of a well-traveled life. Above the chair in which he often sat is a hat, one he got while he was in Leyte. He often remarked that there was only a small section between Singapore and Saigon that he hadn’t been to.

Having summered in New Silver Beach for 20 years, it was natural for Doris and John to retire to Wild Harbor in 1978. The Wild Harbor Yacht Club was a great way to sail and fish with his family. As often as possible, he would hunt. A 2015 photo shows results of his skillful deer hunting.

In January of 1978, John took on a new role as a professor at Massachusetts Maritime Academy where he became well-known for stringent adherence to every exact word in the Rules of the Road – a stance that earned an appointment to the United States Coast Guard Rules of the Road Advisory Council. He worked tirelessly in unifying the “Inland Rules of the Road” with the newly established international “Collision Regulations”. Captain Gibbons was Master of the TS Patriot State for four cruises from 1988 to 1991.

Captain Gibbons was honored by the MMA with the Alumnus of the Year Award in 1992, Gold Membership in the Boston Marine Society in 2004, the Navy League of Boston in 2009, and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy Alumni Association Special Recognition Award in 2016 for naval and merchant service.

Captain Gibbons was a member of the Boston Marine Society for 64 years. This long association included numerous committees and terms as President from 1984 until 1987. John received a gubernatorial appointment as Deputy Pilot Commissioner for Massachusetts Pilot District Three, providing oversight and commissioning of state pilots from 1993 until 2008.

John is survived by his loving children, Elizabeth Gibbons of Campbell, California and Fred Gibbons of Los Altos Hills, California; his wonderful grandson, Alexander Will and Alexandra Cole Will of San Francisco, CA; Eduard and Beth Will of Los Angeles, CA; Marco Will of Frankfurt, Germany; the O’Konski family of Bethesda, MD; Lt. JG Alex O’Konski, San Diego, CA; the Schumacher and McGavin families of Upstate New York; the Beattie families of Maryland and California; and many dear friends on the Cape, across the country and around the world. John is preceded in death by his wife, Doris Gibbons and daughter, Mary Gibbons.

Nancy White Jencks ’41

jencksNancy White Jencks, 94, of Barrington, passed away Wednesday, November 9, 2016, at Silver Creek Manor, Bristol, after a long illness. Born in Providence, March 3, 1922, she was a life-long Rhode Islander.
After graduating from Smith College, Nancy started a family and worked in the family foundry business as a draftsperson. She drew numerous pictures a day for many years, including the Veteran’s cemetery flag holders for Korean War vets. Having exceptional financial acumen and foresight, Nancy and her good friend, Rita Beaver, were inspired to start the Barrington Citizens’ Scholarship Fund in 1959. It is now known as the Community Scholarship Fund of Barrington. Finding herself a single parent in the mid 1960s, Nancy became one of the first women stockbrokers in Rhode Island. She was an active member of the Barrington District Nurse Association and a member of the Barrington Congregational Church, where she also served on the finance committee. Nancy was an avid and talented sailor. She competed in the “Tuesday Night ‘Tired Fathers’ Series,” at Barrington Yacht Club, and won often.  Another of her great pleasures was the cabin in the woods of Maine that her teenage sons built in the early 70’s.
Nancy was predeceased by her son, Ross Jencks. She is survived by her children, Randy Jencks (Nancy) of Bristol, Peter (Mary Ann) of Newport, Andrew of Barrington, fifth “son,” John Palmer of Marblehead, MA, grandchildren, Rosey Jencks of Albany, CA, Marey Jencks of New York, NY, Peter Leopold of Oakland, CA, Molly Jencks of Newport, Ben Jencks of New Orleans, LA, and great grandchildren, Miyah and Isaiah, and Sally and Walt. The five other teenagers who lived under her wing in her house will also miss her. For a very good reason, Nancy was affectionately known by many as, “Ma Jencks.”
Nancy’s family offers special thanks to the staff at Silver Creek Manor for their many years of care.

Bill McClelland ’41

McClellanDr. William K. McClelland, 92, of Colrain Road died Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at home.

He was born in Chicago, IL on May 19, 1923, the son of Dalton and Maud (Kelsey) McClelland. He grew up in India and at the age of sixteen came to the United States, to attend Williston Academy and graduated in the Class of 1941. He continued his education at Yale University obtaining a Bachelors Degree in 1944, and went on to graduate from Yale Medical School Class of 1947. He did Post Graduate training in Surgery at Hartford Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Pondville Cancer Hospital. During his time at Yale, he was a member of the United States Navy V12 program. He was a Captain in the United States Army Medical Corp during the Korean War.

He had a General Surgery practice in Greenfield for 35 years, working at the Franklin Medical Center (now Baystate Franklin Medical Center) before his retirement in 1991.

His passion was classical music, playing bassoon in the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra, Windham Orchestra, and the Four Seasons Ensemble. He played tennis and squash with a devoted group several times a week. He also enjoyed hiking on the Long Trail in Vermont. He was especially passionate about the Cleveland Indians and was anticipating a comeback to the World Series any year. He was a devoted dog lover and bird watcher.

Among his survivors, William leaves his beloved wife of 67 years, Betty Jean (Weake) McClelland; three children, Alan McClelland and his wife Patricia of Montague, MA, Jean McGowan and her husband Ed and James McClelland and his wife Terry, all of Greenfield; a brother, Dalton McClelland of Tucson, AZ; thirteen grandchildren and four great grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. Also considered as part of his family was Soni Oyekan, an exchange student from Nigeria.

William was predeceased by a brother, Harry McClelland of California,and a sister, Marion Cramer of Ohio.

William Alpert ’41

William AlpertWilliam of Woodmere passed away on July 21, 2015 at the age of 92.

He was a devoted husband to the late Helen Mills Alpert. He is survived by his brother, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), beloved father to his daughter Patricia Alpert Benson, son Peter Alpert, and grandfather to grand-daughters Rachel and Rebecca.

Graduate of Williston Academy, Dartmouth College and Boston University School of Law. Veteran of the Army Air Corp (First Lieutenant and Pilot Instructor WWII). Former Assistant Attorney General. Prominent Manhattan attorney. Former President Temple Beth-El in Cedarhurst.

Eileen Sullivan Vail ’41

Eileen Sullivan VailEileen S. Vail, 92, of Nashua, and formerly of Northampton, Massachusetts, passed away peacefully Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, in Nashua.

Eileen was born March 30, 1923, in Northampton, Massachusetts, the daughter of Neil and Viola (Sheridan) Sullivan. Eileen attended local schools, graduating from Northampton High School class of 1940. She furthered her education, and graduated from Smith College in 1945.

Eileen entered the insurance field and was a sales and insurance representative for several companies throughout the years. She met and married Thomas Vail and they began their family. They moved to Monson, Massachusetts, where Eileen taught elementary school before the family moved to New Hampshire where they settled.

Eileen was a devout Catholic and attended church in her youth at St. Mary’s in Northampton, Massachusetts, and later in New Hampshire. Family was very important to Eileen and she cherished her time spent with them at gatherings, holidays and vacations.

Eileen was predeceased by her parents, Neil and Viola Sullivan and her husband Thomas Vail who passed away in 2008. She leaves her children Laurie Casey and her husband William of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, Thomas Vail, Jr., and his wife Jennifer of Westminster, Colorado, and Shauneen Lund and her husband James of San Leandro, California, and her grandchildren Matthew, Bryan and Lillie Vail and Kim Lund. She also leaves her dear sister Barbara Laughlin of Northampton, Massachusetts, and several nieces and nephews

Vance Likins ’41

Vance LikinsMr. Vance F. Likins, Jr., age 94, died peacefully on Monday, April 20, 2015 after a lengthy illness.

He was the beloved husband of Christine (Robinson) Likins, with whom he shared 68 years of marriage.

Born in Cambridge, Vance was the son of the late Vance Likins, Sr. and Marthella (Church) Likins.

Prior to his retirement, Vance worked as an Insurance Adjuster for Aetna Insurance Co. for over 28 years. Vance and his wife spent many hours on Siesta Key and enjoyed walking the beach. He enjoyed his Jazz Music and he and wife traveled the world with the Count Basie Band.

In addition to his wife, he leaves one son: Vance F. Likins, III and his wife Beverly of Marblehead. He was the grandfather to Sandy Norris, Meri Likins and Skip Likins. He was the great grandfather to Shawn, Sarah, Shayla, Susie Emily, David, Tabitha, Isabella and Lucky. He was the brother to Priscilla Doty of Bethesa, MD and the late Sam Likins and Cynthia Vernardakis.

Stephen King ’41

KingStephen B. King, age 91, a North Chatham resident since 1989, died Feb. 14, 2015 at Cape Cod Hospital, after a brief illness.

He was the husband of Helen L. King. Mr. King was born in Northampton, MA where he attended Smith College Day School followed by Williston Academy prior to graduation from Deerfield Academy. He went on to MIT from which he graduated in 1947 with a degree in chemistry, after serving in the U.S. Army and attending the Coast Guard Academy. During his stay at MIT, he was a member of Theta Delta Chi Fraternity, the vice president of his senior class, the commodore of the MIT Sailing Association and the president of the Intercollegiate Sailing Association.

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