In Memoriam – August 2013
By Sam Foote on Friday, September 13th, 2013
Long after their service in the Peace Corps, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) continue to demonstrate values of promoting peace, cultural understanding, teamwork, and helping others. These attitudes and actions are evident as we remember, honor, and celebrate the lives of some of the volunteers who passed this August.
Kirk E. Breed (1939-2013) led a long, impactful, and spirited public service career. In 1963, Kirk was selected in the first class of President John F. Kennedy’s Peace Corps volunteers, serving two years in Chile. Afterwards, he served as the director of the Peace Corps in Colombia for five years. Following his service with the Peace Corps, Kirk campaigned for Governor George McGovern and served in a variety of public service roles, including Director of Planning and Development with the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation, General Manager of the California Exposition and State Fair, and lobbyist for horse racing safety. Kirk enjoyed a love of horses his entire life, from his upbringing in Oklahoma to his work in California. When describing the positive impact he had on people, California Governor Jerry Brown said “Kirk was a special, unique human being, he left a mark on everybody he touched- me included.”
The Peace Corps experience of Burkina Faso RPCV John Chiasson’s (1952-2013) inspired a lifetime of travel and nurtured a love of photography and nature. After receiving a degree from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, John joined the Peace Corps, where he taught English to elementary school children. He would continue to travel the African continent, serving as a photographer and film director in Niger and as a West African correspondent for the photo agency Gamma Liaison. His photographs appeared in an array of prestigious publications, including the New York Times, Time Magazine, and Newsweek.
Brazil RPCV Stephen Browning Swigart (1944-2013) dedicated his life to helping his community. After graduating from MacMurray College with a degree in Sociology in 1966, Stephen joined the Peace Corps, serving in Niquelandia, Brazil. Upon his return home and three years of service in the U.S. Army, Stephen served as Executive Director of Wisconsin Community Services from 1977-2007. Stephen was involved in the Board of the Milwaukee Council on Drug Abuse, and was extremely active with his church, serving on the Board for University Christian Ministries, and the Board for Interfaith for Older Adults, as well as the Planning and Policy Advisory Committee of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Peace Corps service came later in life for Ecuador RPCV Marjorie Lorig Leventry (1940-2013). A graduate of Cornell University, Marjorie worked in the healthcare field as a Dietitian and college professor for over a decade. In 1993, Marjorie decided to join the Peace Corps and served three years in Ecuador, using her broad experience to develop programming in pre-natal and childhood nutrition. Upon returning to the U.S., she and her husband Robert continued to promote health and business in Ecuador, founding Inca-Organics, a business working with indigenous Ecuadorians to perfect organic farming techniques, raise heirloom grains, and to distribute their products in global markets. Their work was recognized with the Slow Food International Award for Biodiversity in 2002.
The experience Michael McIntyre (1942-2013) had as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bhopal, India served him well in his academic and professional endeavors later in his life. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1964, Michael helped his Bhopal community members build windmills and taught mathematics and English to students. Michael was a recognized authority on taxation, especially international tax laws. Michael was a consultant to the United Nations, a Professor of Law at Wayne University State, a Director of Training at the International Tax Program. Michael drew on his cross-cultural experiences in the Peace Corps to successfully negotiate a tax treaty between the U.S. and Navajo Nation.
William B. Armbruster (1953-2013) dedicated his life to serving his country abroad. After serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali, where he taught Physics to students in French, Armbruster went on to become a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. Department of State. While he was with the State Department he earned a Superior Honor award for meritorious conduct during Desert Storm. He spent five months as a detainee of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Armbruster was a board member on the St. Joseph Museums and President of the Friends of St. Joseph Symphony.
After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1983, Karen J. Stetson (1960-2013) joined the Peace Corps. Karen served in the Marshall Islands for two years. Afterwards, Karen completed her Master’s Degree in Social Work at Smith College in 1992 and worked as a social worker in Boston until 1998. Karen adopted two girls from Guatemala, and was described as an incredibly compassionate friend and family member.
Ralf Mulhopp (1945-2013) devoted his life to social work, community involvement, and helping others. Ralf was born in Bad Eilsen, Germany, and moved to Baltimore, Maryland at the age of five. After completing his B.A. and Masters degrees in Social Work and Community Planning at the University of Maryland, he and his wife Jennifer served as Peace Corps Volunteers for three years in Paraguay. Ralf was a public health worker and community organizer in rural villages lacking potable water or sanitary latrines. Upon returning to the U.S., Ralf was an Urban Planner for the city of Baltimore, specializing in housing for the elderly and disabled. Ralf’s experience in Paraguay inspired a lifelong interest in Latin American cultures and politics. In the 1970s, Ralf worked on behalf of prisoners of conscience in Argentina and Chile through the Baltimore Chapter of Amnesty International, a group in which Ralf was a founding member.