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In Memoriam – August 2019

It’s no surprise that members of the Peace Corps community possess and develop a wide range of skills and talents. Among those who recently passed away, we honor founders of humanitarian organizations, teachers of English around the world, and individuals committed to vocations ranging from music to herpetology.

Vincent H. Beckman III devoted his distinguished law career to enabling social justice. Vincent received a bachelor of arts from Notre Dame University, a masters in Sociology from the University of Chicago, and a juris doctorate from Northwestern University. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru from 1966-1968, he helped organize community development projects. Later, he worked with the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) in Puerto Rico, and as a VISTA Volunteer. In 1970, Vincent served in Peru helping with earthquake relief. Upon return to Chicago, Vince taught ESL classes at Chicago City Colleges and taught sociology at YMCA Community College. While in law school, he worked at the Northwestern Legal Clinic. He joined the firm of Zeitlin & Schwab, and worked with Legal Aid Foundation Chicago (LAF) as a staff attorney in the Migrant Project. He accepted a position as Executive Director of Michigan Migrant Legal Assistance Project then returned to LAF as Supervisory Attorney of the Migrant Project. After leaving state employment, he continued this service by co-founding a nonprofit called Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project, aka FLAP (Ayuda para Trabajadores del Campo y Jardineros).

Robert Taylor (1941-2019) served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia and Brazil and was an accomplished musician. Robert graduated from Grinell College with a major in music. While there, he was also active in theater. Throughout his life, Robert was always a musician: trombonist, composer, arranger, a player in groups big and small. Jazz became his first love in high school. At Grinnell College he played in a group led by the great Herbie Hancock. While serving in the Peace Corps, he learned from the Latin jazz musicians with whom he lived and played. Once back in the States, he did graduate work in ethnomusicology, first at Wesleyan, then at Indiana University. From there it was the hardscrabble life of a musician, ready to play what was set before him: in a band that backed Motown groups (Temptations, Supremes, Spinners, Four Tops); on tour with Broadway show companies (Fiddler on the Roof, Company, No No Nanette, Seesaw); summers in the Catskills (Grossinger’s and the Deville) and at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island; in Grand Rapids with the Bruce Early Big Band, the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra, and the Midtown Horns; and, showing again his versatility, as part of a brass choir for the Roman Catholic Bishop of Grand Rapids. When he settled into a “day job,” he taught Spanish and TEFL at Grand Rapids Community College.

Terese (Schirmer) Piccoli (1929-2019) was an international traveler for many of her 90 years. She had a self-professed “awakening to feminism” in the 1960s while being a wife and mother to seven children, and soon became politically active. In 1977 Terese earned a masters in public administration from the University of Pittsburgh. She co-founded MC Consultants, a management consultant group supporting small businesses, especially those run by women and people of color. In 1990, at the age of 61, Terese was among the first Peace Corps volunteers to serve as teachers in then Czechoslovakia. After three years in Prague at Charles University, she taught for a summer in Egypt, then for a year at the Universitas Katolik in Bandung, Indonesia. From there, she taught in Hohhot, China, at the Inner Mongolia Polytechnic University, in Pohnpei at the College of Micronesia, and for a year in Ghana with the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help/Teachers for Africa Program.

Benjamin “Ben” Edison Trumble (1956-2019) was a world traveler and said to be most-likely-to-sneak-a-snake-on-a-plane. An avid herpetologist, Ben worked at the Bronx Zoo before serving with the Peace Corps, where he worked in agricultural sectors on the coastal villages outside Tela, Honduras. Back in the U.S., Ben established his lifelong connections to zoos and circuses, as later documented in his A Mudshow Season blog, where he traveled for several seasons as an assistant manager for Carson & Barnes, Culpepper & Merriweather, and Kelly Miller, the big three of America’s surviving tent circuses. In 1994, Ben settled in California where he became an Internet pioneer, helping to set up Sports Illustrated’s website and producing live internet events for the Sci-Fi Channel and People Magazine.

Van Roy Southworth (1949-2019) will be remembered for his irreverent humor, his unwavering optimism, and his open heart. Van’s love for international service was born when he served in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia after college graduation. He earned a bachelor of arts in economics from Washington State University in 1971, and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Upon returning from the Peace Corps, Roy earned a masters and doctorate from the Food Research Institute at Stanford University. Following a brief research stint in Ghana, Roy accepted a role at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. where he spent the remaining 29 years of his career. While at the World Bank, he lived and worked in Tanzania and Croatia, before ultimately retiring in the country of Georgia in 2008. Roy and his wife Cathy, along with a local partner in Georgia, co-founded The McLain Association for Children (MAC), benefiting vulnerable children and adults in Georgia. As country manager for the World Bank, Roy was instrumental in founding ISET, an economic university in Tbilisi.

Richard James Sands (1943-2019) was a Peace Corps Volunteer who taught English in Eritrea from 1965-1967. He was a graduate of St. Thomas University and the University of Minnesota Law School. In 1964, he did research in India with the Student Project for Amity among Nations (SPAN). After law school, he worked as a Minnesota Senate Counsel, then with the firm of Peterson, Popovich, Knutson & Flynn, and later in his own private practice. In St. Paul, he became a Senior Revisor of Statutes at the Minnesota Legislature, where he helped write and edit many laws on education and governance. He was particularly proud of his major project to make all Minnesota statutes gender neutral. He loved books and had a large collection on writing style, biographies, golfing, theology, and American literature. In retirement, he got a certificate in Teaching of English as a Foreign Language, and taught briefly in Italy.


Below is our In Memoriam list for members of the Peace Corps community who recently passed away:



Ann Michael Mathews, 7/12/19



Braxton Luther Combs (Morocco; Tunisia), 8/19/19

Jane Lindsey (Thailand; Sri Lanka; Belize), 7/31/19

Josef Stagg (Dominican Republic; Sierra Leone), 8/6/19

Robert Taylor (Brazil; Colombia) 8/19/19



Terese (Schirmer) Piccoli (1990-1993), 7/26/19



Carol Beal (1963-1965), 8/9/19



Richard James Sands (Eritrea 1965-1967), 7/29/19

Van Roy Southworth, 7/23/19



Benjamin Edison “Ben” Trumble, 8/18/19



Virginia Bodner, 8/5/19

Wallace Edward Tyner (1966-1968), posted 8/25/19



Jessica Nguyen Davidson, 8/5/19



Daniel Joseph “Jay” Glenney IV, 8/16/19

Vernon Madison (staff), 7/30/19



Thomas Frank Woolley, 7/19/19



Joey Jeter, posted 8/21/19



Jean Elizabeth Boyd (1966-1968), 8/1/19

James McNamara (staff 1966-1968), 8/10/19



Raymond Wyss Neiger (1963-1965), 7/28/19



Vincent H. Beckman III (1966-1968; 1970), 7/24/19



Nicole O’Brien Stone, 7/26/19



Gary Engelberg (1965-1967), posted 8/19



Norma McCarroll Hacker (1996-1998), 8/3/19



Michelle Lyon (1986-1988), posted 8/4/19



Roger H. Evans (1968-1970), 8/8/19



Judith Ann Morhar (1966-1969), 6/8/19



John Alec Morgan, 8/8/19



If you have information you would like to share for our monthly In Memoriam post, contact [email protected].

Thanks to Betty Pyle for her assistance in preparing this month’s In Memoriam page.

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