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In Memoriam – January 2018

An iconic country music songwriter. An RPCV whose journey to the Peace Corps began in Nazi Germany. Leaders in the fields of mediation and conflict resolution.

There’s a long, lifetime of accomplishments among those we honor who recently passed away, and we are especially saddened by the untimely death of a serving volunteer.


The Peace Corps community mourns the recent death of Bernice Heiderman (1993 – 2018), who passed away suddenly while serving as a volunteer in Comoros. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Bernice was an education volunteer, teaching English at a junior high school on the island of Grand Comore. Her work included starting a Junior Explorers Club, through which she introduced students to sites in their country they had never seen before. Prior to Peace Corps, Bernice was a Discovery Squad volunteer at the Field Museum, where she was a photography assistant.


According to Rolling Stone magazine, entertainer Nanci Griffith referred to Richard Dobson (1942 – 2017) as “the Hemingway of Country Music”. Born in Tyler, Texas, Richard moved with his family to the Netherlands at the age of eight. He began to take piano lessons. Twelve years later, he was playing guitar and would soon join the Peace Corps, serving in Chile. Following Peace Corps Richard moved to Nashville, and would live between Music City and his native Texas for three decades. He became a songwriter to the stars, including Griffith (who recorded The Ballad of Robert Winter-Smith), Johnny and June Carter Cash (Baby Ride Easy), Guy Clark (Old Friends) and many more. Along with music, Richard was a published writer whose works included The Gulf Coast Boys and Pleasures of the High Rhine: A Texas Singer in Exile. The latter reflected on Richard’s life in Switzerland, where he lived with his wife since 1999.


The family of Edward Lee Becker (1935 – 2017) estimate during his 50 years as an educator, he taught over 10,000 students on three continents. Edward’s teaching career began in New Orleans. Eleven years later he traveled to Manila for a year of teaching. Then it was onto California where he embarked on a 25 year career at the Fortuna and East High School systems. He would become Director at East High, and concluded his teaching at Fortuna High as Director of the Independent School Program. Edward was very active in civic and professional affairs, including a stint as President of the Fortuna Union High School Teachers Association and as a member of the Rohnerville School District. He also served as a member of the Fortuna Planning Commission, President of the the Camp Fire Boys and Girls Club, and a Board member at Humboldt State University. After concluding his work in Fortuna, Edward joined the Peace Corps in 1995, where he continued his work as a teacher in Slovakia.


After earning a degree in teaching from Wayne State University, Myra Strachan MacDonald (1939 – 2017) taught briefly in Detroit public schools.  Soon after, she began training with the Peace Corps and subsequently served in Nigeria from 1963 to 1964 as a teacher.  Dedicating her life to teaching, she returned to school and earned her MAT in special education.  She was deeply involved in community programs focused on nonviolent social change. At various points in her life, she was active with the Unitarian Church, the Nuclear Freeze Movement, and PFLAG. She also earned her M.A in Psychology and worked as a therapist. Later in life, Myra worked in private practice, helping men who had been convicted of domestic violence to learn non-violent methods of resolving conflict.
A citizen of Germany prior to World War II, Karl Eymert (1928 – 2017) was forced to join a people’s militia established by the Nazis in the final days of the war. He was later captured by the Russians but escaped and was eventually reunited with family members in Altenwalde, Germany. Karl found work at a US Army base and was befriended by a U.S. soldier who married Karl’s sister, and sponsored both as they moved to southern California. Karl joined the US Army and was stationed in Berlin, working at Checkpoint Charlie as an interpreter, military police officer, and courier.   After serving in the military, he returned to California and worked with the National Forest Service and worked as a ranger.  After his retirement, Karl served in Costa Rica with the Peace Corps for two years.  Shortly following his service there,   he worked as a tour guide in California.  He traveled to many different countries and could speak German and Spanish fluently.

Roger C.Wolf was graduate of Harvard College and the George Washington University School of Law. He served as as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia from 1962 to 1964, and dedicated his life to service to others.  He taught for 30 years at the University of Maryland Law School.  He spent many years studying mediation and training students to be mediators and conducted training programs in Maryland for lawyers and judges.  He was a trailblazer in the field of mediation, by drafting standards for ethics and practices.  His extensive work in these fields was recognized when Roger received the Chief Judge Robert Bell Award for Outstanding Contribution to Alternative Dispute Resolution in Maryland 2007. He was also honored as a Leader in the Law in 2004. Along with the law, Roger was also a passionate farmer, tending to 10 acres of wine grapes, Christmas trees, a large flock of sheep, and cattle. He was a founding board member of the Maryland Grape Growers Association’ and was appointed by the Governor to the Maryland State Winery & Grape Grower Advisory Board.


After receiving his Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of California – Davis in 1967, Jerry Allin Brownfield (1942 – 2017) and his wife Beth joined the Peace Corps, serving in Honduras for two years. Following his Peace Corps service, Jerry was hired to work for the General Mills company in Minnesota. In 1971, he began a 30-year career with the Minneapolis based transport refrigeration company Thermo King. Two of his years with Thermo King took Jerry, Beth and their family to Ireland. In 2004, Jerry and Beth moved to Bellingham, Washington where he was active in the community, serving as a volunteer with the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center and member of the city’s Human Rights Film Festival Task Force.


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



Ward J. Cromer, 11/17/17

Lionel Epstein, 4/5/17

John G. Hay (Kenya), 12/14/17

Stuart Stegner (Ecuador/Venezuela), 12/14/17


William Richard Hicks (1963-65), 12/26/17


Mary O’Connor, 12/12/17


Judith A. Rooney, 12/20/17


David Navarre Reif-Snyder, 12/27/17


Susan E. Anthony, 1/3/18


Richard Dobson, 12/16/17


Sidney Smith III, 12/28/17


Bruce Charles Ogden (1964), 12/14/17


Bernice Heiderman, 1/9/2018


Thomas Cernigliaro, 1/1/18

Karl Heinz Eymert (1984-86), 12/29/17


Blanche Ligare Lindmark, 12/25/17


Anthony Funicello, 10/8/17


Scott Carter (1962-64), 12/11/17


Jerry Allin Brownfield (1967-69), 12/7/17


Norma Goel (1964-1966), 12/31/17

William S. Seeley (1966-68), 1/1/18


Susanne Emily Oldham, 1/1/18


Stannette E. Malosky, 12/15/17


Randall Melquist (1968-70), 12/10/17


Florence M. Johnson, 12/6/17

Mary Kin (1966-68), 12/16/17


Sarah Marie Cimino, 12/24/17


Mary E. (Kane) Murphy (2010-12), posted 1/3/18


Margaret DeBruhl (1993-95), 1/3/18

Myra S. MacDonald (1963-64), 11/28/17


Delores H. Ramirez (1989-92), 12/28/17


Warren LeRoy Bennett, 12/22/17


E. Jane Hards (1986-1989), 1/6/18

Martha D. Peterson (1968-70), 12/29/17


Edward Lee Becker (mid 1990’s), posted 12/24/17


Margaret Cassidy (1970-1971), 1/6/18


May Sutton (1982-1985), 1/6/18


Gilbert Solis (1965-67), 12/7/17


Patricia Rose Hughes (1971-74), 12/21/17


Malcolm E. Wetherbee, 12/26/17

Roger C. Wolf (1962-64), 12/30/17


Henry Beasley, 12/9/17

Robert John Haas, 12/21/17

Steven Rioff, 1/2/18

Robert Simi, 12/11/17