In Memoriam – January 2013
By Jonathan Pearson on Friday, February 15th, 2013
The Peace Corps has a special way of touching all who surround it and opening their eyes to explore and create a broader, more cultured world. As excerpts from rememberances show, we lost some special Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and former staff in January, individuals who impacted their community for the better and lived their life to the fullest.
Mary Laird Silvia (1938-2013) was described as “historian and healer, genealogist and gardener, linguist, litterata and loyal friend.” It was at Radcliffe College where Mary excelled in learning French. After traveling the world, she obtained an advanced degree in international studies at the University of Geneva and worked as a interpreter/translator for the United Nations. Soon after this, Mary was hired by the Peace Corps, working with for Sargeant Shriver in the early days of the agency. She later became Director of American Studies at the French International Lycee in Washington.
Marilyn Anita Martin (1926-2013) was a lover of languages and her teaching in the Peace Corps was only part of her past. Beginning with her graduation from the University of Washington with a Masters Degree in Romance Languages, she then went on to teach English as a Foreign Language in Ecuador, Colombia, and for the U.S. State Department. Later, Marilyn assumed leadership of the Modern Language department of Cornell University and expanded it to nine times its original size. She developed her own Master’s Degree program for Linguistic majors who desired to teach English as a Second Language. Marilyn was a beloved teacher and an inspiration to everyone she taught.
Olive “Jeanne” Brown (1922-2013) also served her community as an educator. However, Jeanne did not stop there. She served as a Red Cross Volunteer for 40 years, was a columnist for The Columbia (South Carolina) Record, docent at the State Museum and Hampton Preston House, amateur archeologist, painter, owner of The Cook’s Nook, and of course a Peace Corps volunteer. Jeanne even had the opportunity to become a great-grandmother of three children.
Melba Jo Anderson (1935-2013) dedicated her entire life to giving back to her community. Melba taught English for much of her life and when the opportunity to join the Peace Corps presented itself, she did not hesitate and joined the first group that traveled to modern day Belize. After retiring with her husband, Melba spent the rest of her days hiking in the mountains, cross-country skiing, and working as a part of the crew for the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club in Virginia.
Gerry Hirsch (1941-2013) worked in the Peace Corps as the Chief of the Program and Training Division for Latin America. Additionally, Gerry dedicated much of his life to helping the less fortunate. Gerry became a staff assistant to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and worked primarily on anti-poverty programs in New York City. Later, he became the Director of the Graduate Degree Program in International Administration and was given the opportunity to live in Europe. Gerry lived the rest of his life as one big adventure, motorcycling around Europe, climbing the Matterhorn, skiing, running for New York State Assembly, and finally following his dream and attending The Art Students League of New York to become a painter.
An early Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru, Fred Zecker (1940-2013) worked to make his community a better place. His lifelong commitment to serving others began with his career as a social worker and Community Development Coordinator at ACTION Housing Inc. Following his work in these positions, he joined the United States Air Force, where he received the Air Force Commendation Medal. Upon his return from the Air force, he served on the Department of Community Affairs state-wide, Community Services Block Grant Advisory committee, and the WorkNet Pinellas Board of Directors.
Follow this link for news of other recent passings included on the National Peace Corps Association’s In Memoriam page.