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In Memoriam – March 2020

We honor the lives of individuals whose service to their communities far outlived their Peace Corps service. We celebrate the work and legacies of these remarkable individuals who inspired their communities at home and abroad.


Shanna (Urness) Baggaley (1937-2020) was part of the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in Thailand in 1961. She taught ESL through adult learning both in service and following her return to northern California. She continued her service to her community by working as the assistant director of a county department, Community Partnership Agency, that facilitated training and educational programs. She was a panelist within the Neighborhood Court in addition to working and volunteering with the Court Appointed Special Advocate program for foster kids. Shanna’s accomplishments directly within her community include her active participation in the Woodland United Methodist Church; organizing the first Woodland Christmas basket program and several subsequent programs and was the first woman president of the Woodland Kiwanis club; served on the United Way Board for six years; participated in the Make-a-Wish program; delivered Meals on Wheels for many years; and tutored several students through the Literacy Council at the jail and at the library up until just a few weeks before her passing. She also spent time abroad volunteering and participating in missions in Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Cuba, and India.


Virginia T. Battle (1922-2020) was a trailblazer in her professional career and maintained a love for politics until her passing earlier this year. She served as Executive Secretary for a then Massachusetts Congressman, John F. Kennedy. She would eventually follow JFK to the White House. She continued her legacy by making great impacts through her work in the federal government, under cabinet officials, in the state department, and in the Peace Corps as the Executive Secretary for Sargent Shriver.


Susan Severtson (1943-2020) taught English and Domestic Science as a Sierra Leone Peace Corps Volunteer in the mid-1960s. She also assisted the Minister of Culture in the compilation of a National Dance Troupe, working as a costume consultant. A trained librarian (University of Chicago), Susan worked in the field for thirty years. She spent eight years as President of Chadwyck-Healey academic publishers, and has compiled over 30 major academic collections and databases. Her experience in administration, sales, marketing, and editorial activities in the electronic publishing business provided her with an insight to the technical challenges of curatorial work in the arts and design field as well as a good grasp of the world of design information dissemination. She spent two years working with Documents Compass, a non-profit organization, established with the purpose of providing guidance to documentary editors entering the digital age. In partnership with her husband, she has established the Design Information Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a database/portal which will identify, archive and make freely available resources for the study and practice of design in multiple disciplines. Recently applying her skills to the Peace Corps community, Susan served on the leadership team of the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience.


Gary David Crawford (1942-2020) taught high school English for several years after college before serving in the Peace Corps on the island of Yap in Western Micronesia, where he taught elementary English from 1965-68. Following his Peace Corps service, he became a language coordinator for the Yap government and spent many years training individuals in island countries within the Western Pacific until 1977. His career at the Foreign Service Institute of Washington, DC began in 1979, where he spent time identifying and implementing techniques to assist diplomatic personnel in learning languages. In 1997, Gary retired from his position as Associate Dean of the institute. Developing a passion for waterman culture, he and his wife Susan opened Crawford Nautical Books, a bookstore focusing on all things related to water. He regularly contributed to the Tidewater Times, published a local newsletter known as the Island Flyer, and became a frequent volunteer with Phillips Wharf Environment Center.


Jerry Gabay (1944-2020) attended Stanford University before serving in the Vietnam War as an officer of the United States Coast Guard. Following his military service, Jerry attended the University of Oregon, where he earned his law degree and served as a public defender before joining the Peace Corps in 1984. He completed service in Malawi, Africa where he taught French, History, and coached basketball. Upon returning to the United States, Jerry obtained his teaching certificate and further continued his passions for teaching. He remained a dedicated social justice advocate, spending six months in Antigua, Guatemala volunteering with a social and health clinic in 2002-2003. Though he retired from his teaching career in 2008, his love for travel inspired him to teach English in Slovakia, Ecuador, and Spain. Following the loss of his daughter to mental illness, he became a major promoter of suicide prevention and mental illness awareness for youth and families.


Ervin Henry Hoffart (1924-2020) passed away at the age of 95 years old after enjoying an enriching life of service. Prior to attaining both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics from the University of Nebraska, Ervin served in the Navy during WWII. In his extensive career working in teaching and development, he worked on the PSSC Physics program at MIT and made great contributions to the subsequent textbook that was used in high schools during and beyond the 1960s. His passion for teaching and science education led him to serve in the Peace Corps in Dominica and AID in Ethiopia in the 1990s.


Gerry Bernard Thiemann (1958-2020) fulfilled his Peace Corps service in Costa Rica from 1983-1985 where he put his economic knowledge to use by creating the first avocado tree nurseries in the area which have developed into thousands of trees that have produced sales all over Central America. In addition to this wonderful agricultural contribution, he also took the time to raise funds to build a women-owned and operated bakery. In 1989, he and his wife Carmen were the founders of the Conversa Language School which has provided translation services to medical clinics and businesses in diverse markets, as well as teaching young scholars valuable language skills to help them attain good jobs. An active golfer, Gerry continued to contribute to his community by frequently hosting charity golf tournaments.


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



Virginia T. Battle, 1/18/20

Barbara Boyd, 2/9/20



Paul Allen Liebman (Sri Lanka; Liberia 1969-70), 3/14/20

Kathleen Ann Lumbra (Panama; Dominican Republic), 2/25/20

Yolanda Gail Mitts (Libya 1969; Thailand 1970-72), 2/16/20



Lance Russell Haddon (1967-69), 2/16/20



Richard M. “Dick” Geary, 2/17/20

Beverly Johnson (1967-69), 2/24/20

Edna O’Connor, 3/12/20



Roland Intrator, 2/29/20



Jeffrey Clyde Evans, 3/3/20

Gerry Bernard Thiemann (1983-85), 2/19/20



Ervin Henry Hoffart (1993-95), 3/17/20



Gerald Schmiedicke, 3/13/20



Gerald Giedd (1966-69), 2/28/20



Ernest Russell Franz (1971-74), 3/21/20

Sean Philip Wilson, 2/28/2020



Thomas N. Dzaugis (1980-82), 3/3/20



Nicholas Willis Howes, (1966-69), 2/23/20



Langdon Phillips Williams Jr. (1963-66), 2/13/20



Andre Houston, 3/5/20



Montreal Collins Farve (1993-95), 2020

Monica Schliep, 2/15/20



Carole Jo “Toni” Friesen (1974), 3/7/20

Carol J. Page (1972-75), 3/14/20



Lee J. Vaughan (1964-67), 2/29/20



Hazel E. Wagner, 3/18/20



Joan P. Donoghue (1963-66), 2/14/20



Gary David Crawford (1965-68), 3/5/20

Lee Huddleston, 2/24/20



Jeffrey A. Dodge, 3/12/20



Jerry Gabay (1984-86), 3/14/20



Diane M. Leach (1966-68), 3/2/20



Lee A. Robertson, 2/22/20



Lynn A. Mead, 3/4/20



Elizabeth A. Stephens, 2/29/20



Nathan Edward Lindgren, 2/25/20

Susan M.Q. Severtson (1964-66), 3/13/20



Shanna Urness Baggaley (1961-63), 2020



Natasha Ott (2007-09), 3/24/20



Rodney McGrath, 3/12/20



Rosemary Ellen Stock (1963-65), 3/1/20

Martin Tenney (1968-70), Fall 2019



Judith Ellen Rusnock Jenkins (1964-66), Feb/20



William P. Zasoba (2003-04), 2/10/2020



Paula Antoinette Bambic, 6/11/19

Jeanne Gerritsen, 3/8/20

Edmond James Roth (Africa 1980), 3/7/20

Michael Earl Rutherford, 3/14/20

William Scott Tyson (Africa 1970’s), 3/1/20

Suzanne Cathryn Willsey, 2/29/20



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

Thanks to Jade Colter for assistance in preparing this month’s In Memoriam page.

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