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In Memoriam – December 2019

As the year comes to a close and we reflect, we remember the sacrifice, generosity, and benevolence of many within our Peace Corps community who recently passed away.


Dr. Pamela York Klainer (1945-2019) attended The College of St. Elizabeth, followed by a Peace Corps assignment in rural Panama. She received a Doctorate of Education from the University of Rochester. Pam was known as an adventurous spirit, lifelong philanthropist, entrepreneur, author, blogger, and loving friend, mother, and grandmother. From her first visit to Panama in the 1960s, Pam built lifelong friendships with her ‘family of the heart,’ returning to Panama regularly with friends and family. Pam cared deeply about philanthropy, establishing the Dr. Jeremy A. Klainer Entrepreneurial Scholarship Fund at the University of Rochester School of Nursing to support innovation in nursing, and helped found the Knox Clinic, providing essential medical care to the uninsured of mid-coast Maine. Pam is also the author of two books and published more than 10,000 blog entries.


Helen Armstrong‘s(1936-2019) personal grief turned her into an advocate for parents with hospitalized children. She was educated at Wellesley College, and earned a Master’s degree in teaching from Harvard. With ambition to work overseas, Helen moved to Kenya to work as a high school teacher in the late 1950s. She returned to the U.S. a few years later, met James Armstrong, who shared her interest in Africa. They married, joined the Peace Corps, and moved back to Kenya as teachers. Once back in the U.S., the eldest of their four children died of a congenital heart defect as a toddler. Helen transformed tragedy into impacting policy changes that allowed parents to accompany small children throughout hospitalizations, rather than restricting their presence to rigid visiting hours. This advocacy in healthcare continued when the family returned to Nairobi, Kenya in 1977. Helen consulted and collaborated on a variety of public health and maternal and child nutrition projects. When she relocated to Winchester, Massachusetts in 1990, Helen continued her work with La Leche League, and also became a consultant in UNICEF’s Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, which involved travel to many nations to train doctors, health care workers, and program directors.


Joseph Haratani‘s (1923-2019) life as a teen had been uprooted to a Japanese internment camp. Joe served the public good his entire life. He joined the U.S. Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II, surviving combat in Italy and France. Joe earned degrees at both Stanford University and the University of California, and joined the U.S. Department of State as a civil/sanitary engineer working in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. In 1968, Joe relocated his family from Virginia to become director of the Peace Corps in Ecuador. After two years, he made the unusual move by becoming a volunteer with his wife and family. When the U.S. government made monetary reparations in 1988 to surviving WWII internees, Joe donated his to a trust for Sonora Elementary School with the stipulation that the interest be used for education about civil rights.


Judge Richard Bender Abell (1943-2019) was a member of the Federal judiciary for twenty years. Judge Abell graduated from The George Washington University with a B.A. in 1966 and a J.D. in 1974. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1967 to 1969 in Colombia. Subsequently he volunteered for the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam in 1970. He was awarded the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal for Heroism, and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. Richard served as an Assistant District Attorney and Deputy Sheriff in Chester County, Pennsylvania, taught law school at Delaware Law School in Wilmington, Delaware, and was on the staff of Senator Richard Schweiker. During part of the Reagan Administration he served in D.C. in executive positions with the Peace Corps and also with the Department of Justice. In 1991, Richard was appointed to the Federal judiciary in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. President Reagan asked him to consult with the Federal Prison Industries Corporation, the Interagency Task Force on Adoption, the Presidential Commission on Agricultural Workers, National Crime Prevention Coalition, National Institute of Corrections, National Center for State and Local Law Enforcement Training, National Drug Policy Board Enforcement, Drug Abuse Prevention and Health, and Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.


Steven Paul Dolan (1948-2019) was a former “Gong Show” winner, a philosophy major, and Fortune 500 communications consultant. He attended Fordham University and the University of Missouri, receiving a B.A. in philosophy after serving two years with the Peace Corps in South Korea. For 28 years, Steven was a communications consultant for Fortune 500 companies. Prior to committing to corporate training, Steven began his working career in the performing arts, winning the Gong Show and appearing on “The Bob Newhart Show” and “McMillan and Wife” in the seventies, as well as traveling with “Laugh In’s” Ruth Buzzy Review. His work included writing music that was performed at the White House and creating and producing an album of 24 songs he wrote about loss and recovery.


Bruce Stark Lowney (1937-2019) was one of New Mexico’s most talented and eminent artists. He earned a B.A. from North Texas State and his M.A. from San Francisco State. Bruce served in the military from 1962-1964 before joining Peace Corps in Papua New Guinea from 1992-1994. Bruce was a stone lithographer and a painter best known for his surrealistic New Mexico skies. His work is included in private collections throughout the United States and New Mexico. Many museums, universities, and galleries have archived his paintings and prints. His amazing talent and his wondrous imagination earned him numerous fellowships and awards including an Artist in Residence Fellowship in Roswell, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and the Tiffany Foundation Award.


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



John Steven Hartwell (Kenya 1965-67; Colombia Country Director 1969-70), 10/19/19

Harriet Sue Fox Riehl (Honduras 1967-69; Costa Rica staff 1974-76), 7/19



Mary Alice Glenn, 11/11/19



Dale Edward Harris (1965-67), 11/27/19

James Otis Wright Jr. (1967-69), 11/15/19



Ernest Wayne Leonard, 10/29/19



Richard Bender Abell (1967-69), 11/21/19

C. Charles “Chuck” Benson (1970-71), 12/2/19

Nancy “Sam” (Temple) Samuels, 11/13/19



Joseph Haratani (Country Director 1968-70; Volunteer 1970-72)



David Brooks “Dave” McLane (1968-69), 12/5/19



Bessie Dalton (1972-74), posted 12/5/19

Sara Hobart Homeyer (1964-66), 12/9/19

Dr. Joseph Herbert Vogel (1971-73), 12/3/19



Richard Barber Reidinger (1965-67), 12/10/19



Pamela Dean Spencer (1965–67), 12/3/19



Helen Armstrong, 11/17/19

William Pitassy (1965-67), 11/22/19



Thomas Stovall (1992-94), 11/29/19



Allan Beiswenger (1970-72), 11/29/19

Edward Houston McMillion (1964-66), 12/2/19



Joyce Hofman McHugh (1962-64), 12/2/19

Elena Grace Wendland (1965-67), 11/25/19



Regina Plunkett Dowling, 12/5/19

Virginia “Jinny” M. Moore (1965-67), 11/18/19



Dr. Pamela York Klainer (1967-69), 9/14/19



Bruce Stark Lowney (1992-94), 10/5/19



Michael Ryan (1978-80), 11/26/19



Carol Ann Lauzon (1974-76), 8/26/19



Melissa Maese Amaro, 12/4/19



Steven Paul Dolan, 10/6/19



Marsha Goron Dragonetti (1965-67), 12/1/19

Marilyn M. McMann Kramer, 11/24/19



William “Bill” Grealish, 12/2/19



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.