In Memoriam – April 2013
By Jonathan Pearson on Friday, May 24th, 2013
From a career firefighter to an Emmy Award winner, the Peace Corps community lost more shining lights during the month of April, not the least of which were two volunteers who lost their lives during service.
Uganda Volunteer Danielle Gucciardo was killed during her service after being struck by an automobile. Danielle had arrived in Uganda last November, and was sworn in as and education volunteer on January 17, 2013. According to a Peace Corps announcement, Danielle “was ‘vibrant and always smiling,’ she was already well integrated into her local community, in addition to being credited for mastering and conversing in the local language with her students and community members.”
Tragically, within the same week, the Peace Corps announced the death of Ghana Volunteer Danielle Dunlap (1988 – 2013). Dani, who was serving as a Volunteer since August of 2011, passed away after suffering an illness. A graduate of Brown University, Dani received her degree in neuroscience. Her Peace Corps service as a health volunteer was part of her dual desires to participate in public service and eventually become a physician.
Claudia Galiher (1918 – 2013) devoted her life to health care, a life that included work as a health education consultant in Peace Corps’ medical program division during the formative years of the agency. Her commitment to international health included two years helping to develop health education programs in India in the late 1950’s, working with the Ford Foundation. Other highlights of her career included serving as Executive Director of the newly created Montgomery County (MD) Tuberculosis and Heart Foundation, instructor of public health and administration at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, and Senior Executive with the federal Department of Heath and Human Services.
For El Salvador RPCV Cedric William Collett, caring for others came through a different vocation. Cedric served for 30 years as a member of the Pacifica (CA) Fire Department. He was the recipient of the department’s Phoenix Award for his efforts to save a child from drowning. An avid outdoorsman and athlete, Cedric spent long hours on beach restoration projects as a member of the Pacifica Beach Coalition.
The media was the profession of choice for Swaziland RPCV Thomas Marteney Hyre (1938 – 2013). A founding member of WAMU-FM in Washington, Hyre was instrumental in developing the National Educational Radio Network, which later became National Public Radio. He also was on the ground floor of the creation of English teaching broadcasts of the Voice of America. The diversity of Hyre’s career ranged from participating in coverage of President Kennedy’s assassination to working with Jim Henson in the developmental period of the Muppets characters. Nominated for three Emmy Awards and winning one, he was pivotal to the coverage of virtually every major cultural and political event until his retirement (celebrated on “The Today Show”) in 2004.
The obituary of India RPCV Larry Ferguson (1943-2013) emphasizes his next step in life after receiving his law degree from the University of Michigan and passing his bar exam. “He then entered the Peace Corps and was assigned to southern India to promote family planning, an experience that framed his future and provided the incentive to pursue law for the good of his community.” Along with his professional accomplishments, Larry was involved in local and regional politics. Larry co-founded the Professional Volunteer Corps in Ann Arbor in the early 1990′s and spent many weekends volunteering as a laborer for nonprofits. His pro bono work included many of WashtenawCounty’s nonprofits from Performance Network to the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor to the Humane Society of Huron Valley to assisting his daughter, Ariana, in creating her national nonprofit, Military Partners and Families Coalition in 2011.
Politics was central to the life of Emma Pickett Velis, who worked for the Peace Corps in El Salvador. Along with being devoted to the Sierra Club and various humanitarian causes, she worked for former Congressman Al Gore Sr., father of the future Vice President. Emma ended up living in El Salvador for eighteen years. She eventually retired to Florida, where she had worked as Assistant Vice President for Chemical Bank in Miami.
Follow this link for news of other recent passings included on the National Peace Corps Association’s In Memoriam page.