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In Memoriam – August 2022

In Memoriam – August 2022

As we mourn the loss of members of the Peace Corps community, we celebrate the lives they led with a commitment to service.

 

By Catherine Gardner and Molly O’Brien
 

Our tributes include Joyce M. Bowden (pictured), an early Peace Corps Volunteer who helped treat leprosy in Bolivia and authored over 600 endnotes about four generations of her mother’s family in South Carolina. We remember William Chris Jeffers, co-founder of the Science Teaching Enrichment Programme that has boosted science education in Nepal. We also recognize a committed elementary school teacher with 30 years of experience teaching and advocating for the education of young children everywhere.

We honor the wide range of contributions made by members of the Peace Corps community who recently passed away.

 

Joyce M. Bowden (1938–2022), an early Volunteer of the Peace Corps, graduated from Florida State University before joining the service in 1963. She served in Bolivia 1963–66 at a leprosarium. Since there was no effective treatment for leprosy until the 1940s and more effective drugs were only discovered in the 1960s, people were still very afraid of the disease. Though scared at first and with little idea of what leprosy truly was, Bowden retained a positive attitude through training and helped leprosy patients in Bolivia rejoin their families and their normal lives. She emphasized that complex situations such as Peace Corps service were not something to be afraid of, rather they should be viewed as a way to learn more about the world and one’s own self. “I think you don’t know your capability, your real capability, until you’re faced with very difficult circumstances … and it’s a great thing to learn that you’re far, far more than you thought, than you have ever imagined.” After her time in the Peace Corps, Bowden went on to earn a master’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She then served as a Central American field representative for a League of Women Voters education project, a women-led political grassroots network with a dedication to empowering voters and encouraging people of any political opinion to exercise their freedom to vote. Her dedication to helping better the lives of others remained apparent throughout her life.

 

Adam D. Goldberg Cohen (1992–2022)often described by friends and family as “many people’s favorite person,” graduated from Tulane University in Louisiana with a degree in anthropology. After college, he joined the Peace Corps and served in Togo 2014–16. While there, he worked with farmers, women’s groups, and youth organizations to implement sustainable farming practices. He also founded Cadeau de la Terre, an agribusiness that helped local coffee farmers to package and retail their coffee beans. Additionally, he worked in food preservation and security, and toured surrounding villages to help train other Volunteers and Togolese partners. Cohen made consistently positive impressions on those he met, especially in regard to his determination. While in Togo, he made the rare effort to learn Akebu, the local language spoken in his host village of Kougnohou. This served as testament not only to his respect for the local culture, but also his linguistic ability, being conversant in at least five languages. He was adored by the local Togolese community, often serving to bridge the gap between Togolese and Peace Corps Volunteers through his warmth and humorous nature. After returning from service, Cohen earned a master’s at Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He then moved to Washington, D.C., where he published articles in Smithsonian magazine while working as a writer for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He moved to Tel Aviv in 2021 where he worked as a content writer for Wix.com.

 

William Chris” Jeffers (1941–2022), renowned for his positive spirit and ability to connect with people of all backgrounds, grew up in Long Island before graduating from the University of Colorado in 1964. After graduating, Jeffers joined the Peace Corps, serving in Nepal 1964–67. Though he graduated with a degree in chemistry and music, he always held interest in travel and children’s education. His Peace Corps service in Nepal allowed him to combine these two interests with his science background. While in Nepal, he rewrote the country’s middle school science curriculum alongside a local Nepali science specialist. The method of science teaching they developed was novel in Nepal and was dubbed the Science Teaching Enrichment Programme (STEP). Scientific principles and processes had previously been taught by rote, but with the new model scientific theory was taught by experiment and discovery. STEP was a quick success in Nepal, encouraging curiosity in students and increasing the level of science education in the country. It is still largely in use in Nepal to this day. In 1968, Jeffers moved to Washington, D.C., where he served on the Peace Corps Headquarters Staff for two years and helped train and prepare many groups for their Peace Corps service in Nepal. Jeffers was a man of many interests and talents, and he loved to make music wherever he went. His many areas of expertise allowed him to inspire the many lives he touched.


John G. Kovac (1938–2022)
renowned for his hardworking nature and love for music, graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University and Seton Hall University School of Law in New Jersey. During the intense Blizzard of 1977 that hit upstate New York, he read the entire Whole Earth Catalog. This sparked his interest in the Peace Corps, which he joined that same year. He served in Colombia 1977–79. Kovac continued his career in law after his service, working for Blue Ridge Legal Services until 1991. It was at this point he made a career switch, choosing to do what he called “[giving] up the practice of law for the practice of music.” He made a legacy for himself as an avid harpist, having instruments in all seven continents of the world. Kovac became a music teacher, lectured at the Library of Congress, and recorded with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra while traveling in Cyprus. He was also a harp-maker, founding John Kovac Harps. He was a beloved mentor to many harpists who respected him not only for his ability, but also for his kindness and humility.


Joan (Ward) Shaffer Swee (1924–2022), a
 strong proponent of the saying “Peace Corps is the toughest job you will ever love,” was an advocate for education, especially at the elementary level. She graduated from Bowling Green State University in Ohio with a degree in elementary education in 1945. She taught first grade for 30 years, in schools from the Birmingham School in Alabama to Brownhelm Elementary School in Ohio. She retired from teaching in 1980 and spent the time traveling, visiting Israel, Australia, and Greece. At the age of 64, she joined the Peace Corps, serving in Liberia 1988–89. While there, she continued to demonstrate her dedication to education, monitoring schools supported with funding from the World Bank. Upon returning stateside, Swee continued to live a life committed to service and education betterment. She volunteered at Meals on Wheels, United Way, the Oregon History Museum, and the Children’s Museum. She also consistently donated to charities, especially the Trinity Lutheran Church of Vermilion, Ohio, and Doctors Without Borders. Her life was full of advocacy and adventure, and she is fondly remembered for the impact she made on her students.


Thomas Warren (1933–2022), a
 natural born leader, graduated from David Lipscomb College in Nashville with a degree in accounting before going on to Peabody Vanderbilt with the intent to earn a master’s degree. While enrolled, he was recruited as business manager for Peabody’s AID project in Korea. The focus of this project was rebuilding the Korean education system in the aftermath of the Korean War. This project sparked new interest, inspiring him to return to Peabody Vanderbilt to earn a Doctor of Education degree. This fascination and dedication to the betterment of education continued throughout his life, opening a junior high and high school in Maryland. After the opening of Wootton High School in 1970, he took a leave of absence to serve as director of Peace Corps Micronesia for two years. As country director, Warren was responsible for the management and direction of Peace Corps activity and Volunteers in Micronesia. After returning from service, Warren supervised major renovations of schools, served as principal for a school in Singapore, and opened a second high school. His dedication to education was not something only lauded by his friends and family, and in 1992 he was awarded the Distinguished Educational Leadership Award by the Washington Post. 

 

PEACE CORPS STAFF

Theodore Aranda, Ph.D. (Country Director, Belize), 7/10/22

Joseph G. Bodensteiner (U.S. Staff), 6/29/22

Joan T. Edgren (U.S. Staff — Recruiter),  8/1/22

Jay D. Gaines (Staff, Liberia), 6/12/22

William “Chris” Jeffers (U.S. Staff), 6/27/22

Peter Jenkins (U.S. Staff — Recruiter), 7/17/22

Burce T. MacDonald (U.S. Staff), 6/1/22

Anita J. Parks (U.S. Staff — Recruiter), 8/1/22

Barbara L. Schlindwein (U.S. Staff), 7/23/22

Russell J. Tershy (Deputy Director, Bolivia), 6/29/22

Thomas E. Warren (Country Director, Micronesia), 6/23/22

 

MULTIPLE COUNTRIES OF SERVICE

Susan A. Colburn (Liberia  1983–86, Jamaica 1988–90), 7/24/22

Bonnie (Ness) Hall (Tunisia 1962–64, Venezuela 1970–72), 6/10/22

 

AFGHANISTAN

Gary L. Fair (1971–73), 7/14/22

David “Michael” Hicks (1968–69), 6/6/22

Jon A. Wicklund (1963–64), 8/4/22

 

ARMENIA

George Michael Constantino (2012–14), 6/6/22

 

BELIZE

Ruth Ann Baltz (1985–87), 6/5/22

 

BOLIVIA

Joyce M. Bowden (1963–66), 6/12/22

Roger K. Mitchell (1962), 7/14/22

Robert Rosenbloom (1967–69), 6/21/22

 

BRAZIL

John H. Goddard (1967–69), 6/28/22

 

COLOMBIA

Richard A. Bartlett (1969–70), 7/23/22

John G. Kovac (1977–79), 7/6/22

Mark C. Lindsay (1965–68), 7/17/22

Richard W. Saiser (1962–64), 5/26/22

 

CÔTE D'IVOIRE

Daniel A. Olson (1973–75), 8/9/22

 

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Richard M. Cabrera (1962–64), 5/28/22

Harold “Casey” C. Case (1964–66), 7/22

Joan T. Edgren (1985–87), 8/1/22

 

EASTERN CARIBBEAN 

Neil B. Mann (St. Kitts, 1985–89), 7/25/22

 

ECUADOR 

Robert “Fred” G. Loose (1981–83), 10/20/21

 

EL SALVADOR

Mary A. (McNichol) Dick (1962–64), 7/8/22

 

ESTONIA

Hilvie E. Ostrow (1995–96), 7/27/22

 

ESWATINI

James F. Browne (1970–75), 8/11/20

Michael F. Mazzone (1985–87), 6/17/22

 

ETHIOPIA

Richard E. Heft (1965–67), 6/3/22

David W. Moore (1967–69), 7/1/22

Sylvia Rochester (1964–66), 7/25/22

 

GHANA

Sylvia C. Goins (2002), 7/20/22

 

GUATEMALA

James D. Bourcy (1985–87), 5/19/22

 

HONDURAS

Beverly (Hovendick) Tisdell (1962–64), 6/12/22

 

INDIA

Robert C. Holmes (1963–65), 8/7/22

John R. Long (1968–70), 7/9/22

 

IRAN

Patricia A. McKissick (1966–68), 7/1/22

 

JAMAICA

Kathleen N. Carson (1971–73), 7/4/22

Patricia K. Seiler (1988–90), 6/9/22

 

KENYA

Charles G. Burney (1971–73), 6/3/22

Barbara C. Deshler (1969–71), 5/23/22

Joseph G. Wcislo (1964–66), 6/30/22

 

KIRIBATI

Carol S. (Hagar) Ramsey (1995–95), 6/1/22

 

LIBERIA

Margaret D. (Holt) Sammons (1971–74), 8/3/22

Joan (Ward) Shaffer Swee (1988–89), 6/12/22

 

MALAWI

M. Margaret Castro (1966–68), 6/8/22

 

MALAYSIA

Lowell “Sam” D. Duval (1962–64), 6/26/22

Ingrid J. (Schindler) Lemarie (1966–67), 6/27/22

 

MICRONESIA

Janet M. Bennett (1968–70), 1/27/22

 

NEPAL

Daniel M. Bowler (1988–90), 5/21/22

Bernard “Buck” B. Trawicky (1968–70), 6/6/22

William “Chris” Jeffers (Nepal 1964–67), 6/27/22

 

NIGERIA

Michael C. Tighe (1964–66), 11/20/21

 

PANAMA

Leonard A. Hoge (1964–65), 5/23/22

Natalie M. Murray (2013–16), 5/14/22

 

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Ursula H. Osborne (1996–98), 2/28/22

 

PARAGUAY

Brenton E. O'Neill (1994–96), 11/27/21

Susan C. Schulz (1993–95), 8/3/22

 

PERU

James L. Firth, Ph.D. (1964–66), 8/1/22

Peter G. Moller (1965–67), 5/29/22

 

THE PHILIPPINES 

Marthlu Bledsoe (1961–63), 5/19/22

Edith A. Sihvonen (1967–69), 6/7/22

Marcia L. Weinhold (1968–72), 8/3/22

 

POLAND

Teresa “TJ” C. Johnson (1997–98), 7/1/22

Ann W. Newman (1990–92), 5/23/22

 

SAMOA

Elena Serrano (Herbst) Karr (1972–74), 6/14/22

Charles H. Morris (1985–87), 6/22/22

Eugene Wesolowski (1969–71), 8/8/22

 

SENEGAL

Christopher L. Keefe (1967–69), 12/21/21

 

SIERRA LEONE

Paul E. Holmes (1974–77), 6/12/22

Anita J. Parks (1965–67), 8/1/22

 

SOLOMON ISLANDS

Richard M. Carmean (1997–99), 5/23/22

 

SOUTH KOREA

Dennis G. Kerfien (1971–73), 7/9/22

 

TANZANIA

Eugene C. Canepa (1966–67), 6/7/22

 

THAILAND

Deborah S. Hammond (1973–76), 6/16/22

Rev. Jennifer Haynes Stiefel, Ph.D. (1966–69), 6/9/22

Winston J. Kavanaugh (1965–67), 7/2/22

John A. Nania (1981–83), 5/30/22

 

THE GAMBIA

Thomas H. Post (1967–69), 5/18/22

 

TOGO

Fr. Lawrence W. Flynn, M.M. (1962–64), 7/9/22

Adam D. Goldberg Cohen (2014–16), 6/14/22

 

TUNISIA

Abigail Arnold (1966–68), 5/26/22

Francis “Sarge” S. Cheever, Jr. (1966–68), 7/23/22

Bruce P. Isaacson (1981–82), 6/26/22

Paul W. McVey (1973–76), 7/27/22

Elizabeth J. Platt (1964–66), 8/2/22

 

VENEZUELA

Thomas DeCoursey (1968–69), 7/29/22

Don C. Rosick (1963–65), 6/23/22

 

COUNTRY OF SERVICE NOT SPECIFIED

Della “Eileen” (Shively) Ambos, 6/28/22

Jeannie L. Farman, 7/4/22

Elbert C. Ulshoeffer, Jr., 5/30/22

 

 

 

 

 

If you have information you would like to share for our monthly In Memoriam post, please reach out to us at obituary@peacecorpsconnect.org