In Memoriam – May & June 2013
By Aubrey Peterson on Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
There is no doubt that the Peace Corps inspires a lifetime of service, whether at home or abroad. The Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) below whom we lost in May and June are among those who were involved in their communities and exemplified a commitment to helping others. For many, this was highlighted through their work as educators.
St. Lucia RPCV Nancy Anderson (1946-2013) had a passion for education. She was lovingly nicknamed the “Math Lady” for her desire to teach children math using games and manipulatives, which made the subject both more fun and easier to understand. For her efforts, Nancy received the Presidential Award from the National Science Foundation as well as the Mildred Bennett Award from the Oregon Council for Teachers of Mathematics. Even after retirement, Nancy’s love of teaching remained and she created a teacher training and consultation company called “Making Math Count”.
Thomas Starr Lindersmith (1935-2013) was awarded for his educational excellence as well. After serving in the U.S. Navy, Thomas moved to Alaska to teach history and serve as president of the Fairbanks Education Association. He then received his M.A. and Ph.D., which led to his work as an education consultant and trainer in Liberia with the Peace Corps. Upon his return, Tom was named Oregon’s High School Principal of the Year and brought students abroad to England to learn more about a different culture. A well-humored man who loved his career, Tom always placed a “high value on education.”
Antigua RPCV Dana Gerhardt (1943-2013) also served our nation both in the Peace Corps and the military. Dana was a U.S. Air Force veteran. After finishing duty, she became a special education teacher’s aide with the Torrence, California school district. In her spare time, Dana loved to swim, quilt, and participate in the Trideltathon triathlon with her family.
Harris George Mirkin (1936-2013), on the other hand, was an avid cyclist who also served as a vibrant member of his community. After earning his M.A. and serving as one of Ethiopia’s earliest Peace Corps volunteers, Harris received his Ph.D. from Princeton University. He then spent the next 45 years as an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. In that post, Harris also worked as Co-Director of the UMKC Honors Program and Chairman of the Political Science Department.
Richard Henry Smyth (1951-2013) worked as a professor as well, but at the Army War College from 2006 to 2010. Before that though, this Afghanistan RPCV made a living as a Career Foreign Service Officer of the U.S. Department of State. In this position, Richard traveled all over the world, including Afghanistan, India, Iraq, Indonesia, Denmark, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Jamaica. In between his assignment, he earned a Masters in Strategic Studies and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service for his work.
Paraguay RPCV Antoinette “Toni” Tomasek (1971-2013) recently passed away in Haiti while serving as a Foreign Service Officer for USAID. A global traveler from a young age, Toni was a specialist in international public health and intercultural education and could fluently speak Spanish, Indonesian, French, and Guarani. According to a release from USAID, Toni was “driven by [her] passionate belief that individuals can make a difference”.
Charles C. Gray, Jr. (1943-2013) settled in Radnor, Pennsylvania upon return from his service in Nigeria. While there, he worked for Sesame Street and Villanova University, but devoted twenty-five years to Delaware County’s Juvenile Court as the Community Relations Specialist and Director of the Juvenile Justice Office for the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Charles’ dedication to public service continued when he moved to Chester, Pennsylvania, where he served on many boards, including The Chester Educational Foundation, The Chester Fund for the School of the Arts, and the Pennsylvania State Board of Control for Chester Upland School District.
Follow this link for news of other recent passings included on the National Peace Corps Association’s In Memoriam page.