In Memoriam – November 2013
By Jonathan Pearson on Monday, December 30th, 2013
A community center. Historic preservation. Combating childhood asthma. In so many ways, on so many fronts, members of the Peace Corps community we lost in November were active in professional or civic endeavors that will better the lives of so many who live on. In several cases, these individuals were able to witness some of their accomplishments prior to their passing.
The service and activism that inspired Leonel Castillo (1939 – 2013) to join the Peace Corps in the Philippines also caused him to devote his energy to community organizing for more than forty years in Houston, Texas. Leonel’s early work focused on integration and educational opportunities for all children of Houston. A Board member for Catholic Charities and other organizations, Leonel also helped found the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Houston International University. His ongoing public service included becoming the first Latino elected to citywide office in Houston. In 1977, he was appointed by President Carter to serve as a Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Leonel passed away just several days before the opening of a new community center in Houston named in his honor.
Architectural heritage and historic preservation were key themes to the life and work of James R. Weir (1943 – 2013). Designing buildings as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia is said to have renewed James’ interest in the field. During the last three decades of the 1900’s, James and his family lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He served as a board member of the Boston Preservation Alliance, a non-profit organization with a mission to protect architectural heritage, prevent the dissolution of historic neighborhoods and influence future development. Starting in the mid-1980’s, James and his wife devoted much of their next thirty years towards renovating and restoring the 300-year old village of Tiverton Four Corners in Tiverton, Rhode Island. Shortly before his death, the Tiverton Town Council took steps to expand historic protections to the Four Corners.
The Peace Corps path for Dr. Geza Kadar (1920 – 2013) was different from that of many others. Born in Budapest, Hungary, Dr. Kadar faced the perils of World War II and post-World War II Hungary. This included his opposition to the growing fascism and anti-semitism in the lead-up to the war, and his arrest and detention in 1947 when communists overthrew Hungary’s first democratically elected government. Ten years later, he was able to emigrate with his family to California, where he eventually became a professor of Germanic studies and humanities at Napa College. When the Peace Corps announced plans in the late 1980’s to begin a program in Hungary, Dr. Kadar was among the first to volunteer. He remained in the country of his birth following his service, to provide consulting support to Hungary’s fledgling democracy.
For Dale Bethane Clutter (1922-2013), her service to our nation began when she enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II, until her honorable discharge in 1945. More than forty years later, Dale joined the Peace Corps to assist with a librarian mentorship program in Fiji. At various points in her life, Dale was involved in additional forms of service and causes, including teaching U.S. citizenship courses, prison ministry courses, advocacy for veterans and other charitable causes.
Among her many accomplishments, Nigeria RPCV Judith Hart Smith (1944 – 2013), was a longtime advocate for women’s rights. While studying for her doctorate at the University of Texas, Judy’s activism included writing for an underground newspaper (“The Rag”) and establishing a women’s center to support reproductive rights. This work continued when Judy moved to Missoula, Montana and founded the Blue Mountain Women’s Clinic. She also founded other organizations designed to empower women to move forward in their lives, expand business grants and workforce training, and the promotion of home ownership and affordable housing.
The short life of Peru RPCV Sarah Stinebaugh (1986 – 2013) was not without accomplishment and fulfillment. Prior to serving as a community health volunteer in the northern Andes Mountains, Sarah also served her nation as an Americorps Volunteer, providing health services at a community clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado. Sarah was pursuing a Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology at Tulane University, and was involved in research to combat childhood asthma.
Like so many others who served, Harold Payne (1927 – 2013) found his Peace Corps service leading to future international endeavors. In his case, soon after two years of service in Chile during the mid-1960’s, Harold was asked back to his country of service to further assist with the development of that country’s manufacturing sector. He spent several additional years in Chile, where his work included translating technical manuals used by Chilean manufacturers.
Participating in the 1963 March on Washington for Civil Rights was one of the catalysts that led to Sue Elizabeth Moore’s (1941 – 2013) decision to join the Peace Corps. Soon after, she became a volunteer in Colombia. Sue’s Peace Corps experience led to a lifetime of travel, with extensive travel to South and Central America, and Europe. When home in the Philadelphia suburbs, she worked at the Chestnut Hill Rehabilitation Hospital.
Environmental protection was central to the life of Vickie Ann Powell (1947 – 2013), who lived in the Santa Cruz, California region since the early 1980’s, not long after returning from her Peace Corps service in both Nicaragua and Colombia. Her work in Santa Cruz earned her recognition when she was named Environmentalist of the Year by the California Sierra Club. The award was given for her leadership in stopping a major development project that led to preservation of property that is part of New Brighton State Beach.