Fall 2013

From Elaine Bromka:

About to open my show, “TEA FOR THREE:  Lady Bird, Pat & Betty” for a May 30 – June 29 Off-Broadway run.

Just got back from doing a N.C. tour of the show SOLELY due to the ingenuity and vision of Jan Swetenburg. What an astonishing woman — and what a delight to have as a new friend! I had met her for the first time last year at Reunion and she had mentioned in passing that it would be lovely to bring the show there. I thought she was just being gracious.

Next thing I know, she’s lined up two country clubs and a private school. We had a blast. When I marveled to her friends, they just shrugged and said, “We know. She can do anything.”

This experience has made me realize that — no matter what the event or task at hand is– Smithies are unstoppable once they put their minds to something.

Mary Lindley Burton sent news of classmate Mary Zmistowski:

In April, I was in Florida with a bit of extra time, and called Mary Zmistowski, one of the four “pre-ADA’s” in our class. Mary had a long career in the Great Barrington and Norwalk schools, serving as Principal of Norwalk Elementary in her last position. She retired in 1997, and moved with her husband to West Palm Beach. What an inspiration — I reached her at Curves! Her busy social schedule allowed us one chance to meet: for church on Sunday morning! After becoming a widow, she met Richard; they have been good friends and mutual supporters over the past dozen years.

Remembrance of Nancy Ashton, submitted by Mary Lindley Burton

In mid-May of 2012, with days to go until our 40th Reunion, I e-mailed Nancy Ashton my “Our Smith Mothers” appeal. Always a loyal and generous donor, she replied that she was “recovering from major surgery and next step is chemo for cholangiocarcinoma. Won’t be able to be at reunion.

I promised to visit right after a trip to Turkey, to which she responded, “Oh I loved Turkey when I went on a trip a few years ago funded by a Turkish group interested in intercultural and inter-religion dialogue….Ephesus is amazing. And more–you’ll have a wonderful time. Take care, Nancy”

And when I e-mailed late June, her daughter Hilary responded, saying she was in hospital and they weren’t sure when she’d be home.

Nancy was a single mom, a professor, a stateside parent to an Afghani teenager, an inveterate volunteer I had come to know through her faithful answers to my column questions.   Over the last year I was able to check in on Nancy via Caring Bridge, and true to form, most updates were accompanied by words of wisdom – and jokes.

Three quotes from Nancy to remember her by:

From 2004: “Activism–I have always been active in social and political causes and will continue to do so, working for progressive change, for a world that values and takes care of the “little people” as much as it values the powerful and celebrities. I think we all should be concerned about increasing corporate concentration and the free rein many corporations have, aligned with politicians who aim to undo much of the good change in the past 30 years.”

From 2011: “I hope everyone will be involved in a variety of ways in global work—transnational connections and cooperation, as well, for me, thinking of “the earth, our home” , to keep humans-on-earth sustainable. I am very involved in sustainability groups and activities and hope that commitments to sustainability action grow among Smith graduates and everyone. We all can work together.”

And my favorite: “I don’t so much learn dramatic new truths, as come to see again the validity of old ones, such as the fact that it often is more important to listen to another than it is to speak; or I get reminded of dormant ideas, most especially this year having lost 3 loved ones, such as about the fragility of life, that our time here is temporary– so we might be concerned about living well, doing good things, and enjoying life while we can. A graphic image that helps convey the underlying idea is that of a spiral….and coming back kind of to the same place, but on a different plane, with things being similar, yet looking and feeling different. And through all of this is that people are most important.”

Fran Groves Dodd sent these comments:

These have indeed been sobering times. So here is some good news: In 1998, I left my previous careers as an art therapist, and then as a human services administrator, and joined my husband Phil, whom I met at Smith on the 12-College Exchange, in his business. I redesigned our website for Vermont vacation rentals. After investing in a professional redesign in 2008, we sold it last fall 2012! I am now semi-retired. The timing was fortunate as I now have time to help my mother and to plan my daughter’s fall wedding. (After graduating from Vassar, and spending 5 years in Colorado, she returned to work in Vermont two years ago.) We decided not to wait for retirement to buy a larger sailboat (Catalina 34) on Lake Champlain, so we are now knowledgeable as we begin our third summer and explore more of the lake. Record high water in 2011, then record low in 2012, alert us to the changing climate. I intend to make time for watercolor painting, volunteering and traveling. I even had time to send this message to you!

Diane St. Cyr Francis wrote:

I have been retired since ’09, and have adjusted well to a more leisure life. I take dance aerobics classes for fitness, and piano lessons to challenge my mind. I enjoy being grandma to a 13-month old grandson named A.J. (Anthony James). I cook more new recipes now, have more time to read, and went snow skiing frequently this past winter.

Claire Hamlisch wrote:

In November, I gave a presentation on Joyce Carol Oates to a local group in the south of France. They were very appreciative as I had good and bad things to say about what I had read; while usually the speakers rhapsodize about whomever they’re presenting. Ms. Oates writes very long books. For those of you brave enough to read a French translation, prepare for an extra two hundred pages. I gave an example of how the text gets longer as it moves from the Anglo-Saxon to the Francophone: in the first someone throws a chunk of mud at someone, in the second they precipitate a piece of mud in someone’s direction. I’m looking forward to the local festival of correspondence in July which will feature America this year. When the names Edgar Poe or Benjamin Franklin are pronounced as if they were French, I’ll just have to grin and bear it. Letters of Sylvia Plath will also be included.

We live in a village of 600 people, but there are lots of cultural goings on in neighboring villages.

Lois Homma sent this news:

Our daughter, Katie Homma‘14 brought three of her teammates from Smith and Mt. Holyoke to our home in March 2013 so they could tour Southern California on their way to Stanford for the Synchronized Swimming Collegiate Nationals. Their club team has 8 members from the two colleges and they practice in pools at both campuses 3 times per week. One of the girls serves as coach and they reached out to alums and parents to raise the money for their trip west. They didn’t place in the top 10, but they certainly had more fun!

Next year I go back to Northampton 2X: for Katie’s Senior recital (a music/astronomy double major) and for graduation! It’s great living the college experience again 40 years later through her. She’s having a blast and squeezing all the juice out of the place.

On the death of classmate Nancy Ashton, Cande Olsen had this to say:

Memories of Nancy Ashton by Cande Olson:

Nancy was the first friend I made, the first time I was away from home. I never went to summer camp, but I did attend a college program during the summer after my junior year in high school. That is when I met Nancy. She was smart and fun and beautiful. I also had my first boyfriend at this time – for two weeks, until he developed a major crush on Nancy and dropped me! I was never upset at Nancy (or him). The only thought that stayed with me – for years afterward – was the wish: if I could only have that special allure that Nancy had – with her big eyes, charming whit, and bubbly personality!

And then we both ended up at Smith! Nancy and I had different friends through college, but the bond was always there. Even after college, I would go many years without seeing her, and then we would get together, and it was as though we were 17 again. One time, after not seeing her for many years, she called me up to say that she was going to be at a conference in my neighborhood and could she stay at my house. Of course!  We had a wonderful time, chatting ‘way into the night. I was amazed at how much fun we had after not seeing each other for so long! Nancy was a very special person and she will be missed!

Patricia Pelehach sent this ‘news’:

I seem to be “retired”–at least I’m not currently working nor looking for paid employment–after a lifetime of working as a professional fundraiser mostly in higher ed and the arts. After living in Brooklyn for 20 years, I moved to Dallas five years ago and studied studio art at SMU with some outstanding teachers. I now consider myself a full-time artist. I have a private studio at Shamrock Hotel Studios, and share common space there with seven other artists. Great marriage, excellent health, mind-expanding travel. Life is wonderful.