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In Memoriam – September 2020

We honor members of the Peace Corps community whom we have recently lost.

 

Whether in local office, the judiciary, the military, or through civic engagement, members of the Peace Corps community are committed to — in the words of founder Sargent Shriver — “Serve, Serve, Serve!” We recognize and honor the contributions of many of these public servants whom we lost in the recent past.

 

John Early (1946 – 2020) was a member of the 70th group of Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in India, joining in 1968 after his graduation from Cornell University, and serving until 1972, beyond the standard two years. His family ties to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts would bring him there following service. And, like his longer than average Peace Corps service, Early’s commitment to community and service went far beyond the norm. Living in the town of West Tisbury, Early served on the West Tisbury Board of Selectmen for 30 years. He was a member of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission for 20 years, a volunteer firefighter for 40 years, and president of Island Elderly Housing for 14 years. Not surprisingly, he was honored in 2014, receiving the “Spirit of the Vineyard” award.

 

Judge Geoffrey “Geoff” P. Morris (1942 – 2020) was born in Yorkshire, England during World War II. His family immigrated to Toronto around 1950. His family moved to Louisville, Kentucky four years later. Geoff attended the University of Louisville (UL), and joined the Peace Corps in 1965 upon graduation. He volunteered as a secondary English and social studies teacher, and coached several sports. Geoff returned home to UL, earning a law degree in 1970. He became a chief trial attorney for the public defenders office and would later join the Commonwealth Attorney’s office as Division Chief. He returned to private practice and became president of the Louisville Bar Association in 1981. Ten years later, he was elected to the circuit court, presiding over trials for 20 years. His many honors and awards included being named Judge of the Year by the Louisville Bar Association in 2009, the Judge Charles Allen Advocate of Fair Criminal Justice Award, and the Bnai Brith Award for organizing students to march on the state capitol of Frankfort with Martin Luther King Jr.

 

He organized students to march on the state capitol with Martin Luther King Jr. 

 

Paula Gibson Krimsky (1943 – 2020) graduated with a degree in history from Smith College in 1965. She then joined the Peace Corps, conducting community development work in Chile. Paula worked in the Latin America division of Citibank in New York and at a local bank in Los Angeles. In the mid-1970s Paula joined her husband, George, overseas when he began his work as an international correspondent for the Associated Press. This journey took them first to Soviet Russia (where they were expelled by the Soviet government) and Nicosia, Cyprus during the Lebanese Civil War. They returned to the United States, residing in Rowayton, Connecticut, and eventually Leesburg, Virginia. Paula left her mark in her communities of residence: She helped launch an annual “Trash Bash” in Rowayton, an event that continues four decades later. At the nearby Frederick Gunn School she served as an archivist and educator and launched a Gunn Scholar program to engage students in independent study, using a wealth of primary archival materials found in the school’s basement. In 2017, the school established a new facility called the Paula and George Krimsky Archives. In Leesburg, she helped bring together seven churches of different denominations to create an Easter Passion Play.

 

Jose Andres “Andy” Chacon (1925 – 2020) served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, surviving the sinking of the USS Ommaney Bay by the Japanese. He returned to service following the war, graduating from West Point in 1951. As an Air Force flying officer during the Korean War, Andy was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, two air medals, and six other awards and decorations. Following the Korean War, he moved to New Mexico, working for 12 years at Sandia Labs. During this period he served as chairman of the Public Welfare Board. He earned a master of arts from the University of New Mexico, and in 1964 took a leave of absence from Sandia to accept a position with the Peace Corps, serving as associate director of the Peru program. Following service, Andy held White House positions in the Johnson and Nixon administrations, including a period as executive director of the President’s Committee on Mexican American Affairs. Andy then went on to work for Atomic Energy Commission and at USAID, where he served as science and technology advisor for all of Central America. He returned to the U.S. in 1981, where he taught management and economics at the undergraduate and graduate levels in New Mexico, Maryland, and Ohio, as well as in Iceland and Bermuda.

 

Michael Zimmerman (1942 – 2020) imbued in Jewish tradition, engaged in the practice of Tikkun Olam – Healing the World. Joining the Peace Corps and serving in the Philippines was a notable component of that practice. Mike went on to marry and have a daughter; later divorced and came out as gay, while maintaining a loving and engaged relationship as a father and (eventually) as a grandfather. He was a longtime member and officer of the LGBTQ-focused Congregation Sha’ar Zahav. He wrote a play about gay sons of Jewish mothers, and he was thrilled when his grandson Jared had his bar mitzvah. Although trained as a lawyer, he spent most of his professional life as a development director, grant writer, fundraiser, legal consultant, and administrator for numerous cultural, human rights, and environmental protection organizations, including Volunteers in Parole, Friends of the Urban Forest, the Homeless Action Coalition, the Community Music Center and Lamplighters.

 

He received a Rockefeller Foundation grant to find the students he taught while in the Peace Corps and write about them. That experience resulted in a 1982 article in The New York Times magazine and an essay in his book “Going Up Country.”

 

Leonard Levitt (1941 – 2020) was born in the Bronx and raised in Long Island. He joined the Peace Corps in Tanzania following his graduation from Dartmouth College. Upon his return he attended and graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Leonard worked for the Associated Press, the Detroit News, and Time Magazine before returning to his hometown to continue his career in journalism over the next five decades. He joined the staff of Newsday and then was hired by the New York Post. Around 1980, he received a Rockefeller Foundation grant to find the students he taught while in the Peace Corps and write about them. That experience resulted in a 1982 article in The New York Times magazine and an essay in his book “Going Up Country.” Leonard is best known for his many years as a police reporter in the greater New York region. His investigative work in southeastern Connecticut contributed to the re-investigation of the murder of Martha Moxley, which led to the conviction and eventual overturning of the verdict against Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel. He wrote several books including “NYPD Confidential: Power and Corruption in the Country’s Greatest Police Force.” Leonard worked at Newsday until the paper closed in 1995. He resumed his regular writing on police issues with his NYPD Confidential blog.

 

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

 

PEACE CORPS STAFF

Brian Howard Kern, 8/28/20

 

MULTIPLE COUNTRIES

Gordon Bremer (Peru 1967-69; El Salvador staff 1970-73), 8/24/20

John “Jack“ Milon (Malawi; Marshall Islands), 9/3/20

John Paulas (Morocco 1969-71; Mauritania 1989), 8/21/20

 

BOLIVIA

Joyce Moore (1966-68), 8/21/20

 

BRAZIL

Kenneth S. Bridgeman, 8/22/20

Jane R. French Mead (1967-69), 8/23/20

 

CAMEROON

Emma Schnurle (2003-05), 8/18/20

Reuben Serna (mid 1960s), 8/16/20

 

CHILE

Paula Krimsky (1965-67), 8/30/20

 

COLOMBIA

Elizabeth Novinger, 8/7/20

 

COSTA RICA

Karen Marter (1962-64), posted 8/10/20

 

CZECH REPUBLIC

Emil Eugene “Gene” Jemail (1996-98), 8/17/20

 

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Kenneth S. Johnson, 8/27/20

Gunton “Geer” Wilcox (1963-65), 7/17/20

 

ECUADOR

John C. Cheney (1968-70), 9/10/20

 

ESWATINI (Swaziland)

James Flannan Browne, 8/11/20

 

FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA

Frank Burkett (1986-87), 8/14/20

Michael Wolf (1975-77), 9/4/20

 

INDIA

John Early (1968-72), 9/11/20

 

KENYA

Andrea Rime (late 1980s), 8/25/20

 

MALAYSIA

Ron Erickson (1966-67), posted 9/1/20

George E. Peverly, 9/9/20

 

MALI

Shawn J. Grady (1993-97), 9/8/20

 

MOROCCO

Kay Ostrom (1965-67), 8/18/20

 

NEPAL

Laxmi Ji (host country national staff), 9/3/20

Rev. John D. Lane (1966-68), 8/30/20

 

NIGERIA

Margaret R. Blue (1963-65), 8/11/20

H. John Matthews (late 1960s), 8/26/20

Norris Wayne Owens, 9/2/20

John Robert Weed, 9/12/20

 

PERU

Jose A. Chacon (staff Mid 1960s), 8/16/20

 

PHILIPPINES

Michael Zimmerman (1966-69), 7/20

 

POLAND

Stephen Ravosa (1989-91), 7/25/20

 

SENEGAL

Thomas Francis Shamrell, 3/12/20

 

SIERRA LEONE

Judge Geoffrey P. Morris (1965-67), 9/2/20

 

SOUTH KOREA

Charles St. Cyr (1967-69), 8/20/20

 

TANZANIA

Felix Karpain (late 1980’s),  7/22/20

Leonard Hugh Levitt (mid 1960’s), 5/18/20

 

THAILAND

Nancy E. Olsen Ross (1962-64), 6/14/20

John Tidner (1978-80), 8/31/20

 

TONGA

Charles Edgemon, 9/7/20

 

TUNISIA

Jerrold William Anderson, 8/18/20

 

COUNTRY OF SERVICE NOT SPECIFIED

Cara L. Joe (South America), 8/25/20

William L. “Larry” Rich, 8/27/20

Ronald Yasui (South America), 8/23/30.

 


 

 

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