Spring 2020

Susan BeggSad news of Susan Begg, from her friend, Kristy Heintz Barclay:

Susan Begg ’72, died Sept. 15, 2019, Ithaca, NY.  A vital and valued member of Emerson House, Sue often led, always accompanied her housemates on their adventures, teaching us to accept differences and showing us how to “live large.” She moved on from Smith to graduate from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, intern at the American Medical Center, New York City, completing her residency at Cornell. Her Ithaca business, Vet Express, was one part of her varied life of friends, sports (softball, rugby), Unitarian Universalists, and the Merchant Marine.  Sue knew who she was and what she wanted.  She had many hurdles, some too great for her to conquer, but she addressed them honestly and directly and soldiered on.  Her raw honesty permitted others to see life through a different lens and modeled how to address their own demons out loud.  As her friends have noted, “she was one of a kind”.  We will miss her!

Kudos to Elaine Bromka‘s daughter, author Julia Phillips has her debut novel, “Disappearing Earth”, a mystery novel set beyond Siberia, rolling out from Knopf May 14, 2019, kicking off a 20-city book tour.  Julia would love to connect with Smithies around the country.  Dates and towns:   http://www.juliaphillipswrites.com/events.html    Julia was named one of the five finalists for the 2019 National Book Award in fiction for her debut novel.

Tiffany Baker Mullican confides that her life is quite mundane.  She and her husband moved from northern Virginia to Richmond, Virginia seven years ago to retire. He plays golf as often as possible; she loves her gardening, monthly book club, and her bunco group.  Her four children provide the bulk of her interesting news.  Tiffany’s oldest daughter and her husband have four beautiful daughters. Her middle (twin) daughter is working while her husband finishes his doctorate in engineering. Her (other twin) son is completing his MBA in Sydney, Australia.  He had said that if he was going to get a graduate degree, he might as well go someplace interesting and fun!  Tiffany’s youngest daughter has her master’s degree and absolutely loves teaching ESL at the high school level.  Tiffany recently visited her brother in New York and one of her very best friends from Smith, BethAnn Friedman, who lives outside Boston.  (Photo of Tiffany and Beth attached.)  Tiffany is enjoying being the Morrow House Rep as we prepare for our 50th reunion;  she’s looking forward to the big occasion. 

Very proud of our Signe Nielsen – she feels inspired to tell us that her firm, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, has been awarded the commission to prepare a landscape master plan for Smith College!  They are so delighted.  Signe adds that fellow alums should expect to receive a newsletter requesting their input on the plan’s direction.

Deborah Pinkham and her husband, David, sent happy news of son James’s wedding to Sara Hahn on June 22, 2019, in Barnard, Vermont.  They live in New Hampshire, where James is the Associate Director of Admission and Financial Aid at New Hampton School. Sara is a high school science teacher in Bedford, New Hampshire.  Ten days after the wedding – July 2, 2019 – Deborah had a second total hip joint replacement (right hip), to match the left one replaced in September 2018, so now she’s practically bionic!  Although…if she had it to do over, she would not have scheduled two such big events so close together.  Fortunately, everything went well, and she’s working her way back with plenty of physical therapy. 

Bonnie Beaver Roberts’ announces the marriage of her younger daughter Gabrielle.  She had a magical 4-day destination wedding in Tuscany; they made it a two week honeymoon trip to Italy, starting in Siena and ending in the Dolomites.  Bonnie and her husband’s big trip of the year was a return to India and then Sri Lanka for their 35th anniversary.  She adds:  “Looks like I will finally be retiring at the end of 2020.”

Stephanie Shafran is three years into retirement from her professional teaching/counseling career.  She continues to enjoy local her volunteer commitments with Straw Dog Writers Guild and immigrant sanctuary protection.  Focusing more on creative writing in 2019, her poetry has appeared in the Florence Poets Society’s journal Silkworm 12: Survival and Slant: A Poetry Journal.  Stephanie’s four grandchildren, living just 10 minutes from her home, continue to bring her unending joy.  Her youngest daughter recently moved to Easthampton from eastern Massachusetts.  She feels especially blessed that all three daughters and their families now live so near by.  Stephanie is still relishing her romantic good fortune, after seven years and counting, with a kind, loving, and ethical life partner.  This completes the celebration of her personal life, even in the thick of political and cosmic turmoil. 

Joan Speers shared:  “Nine years ago my mother died at age 94 (she was a Smithy, too).  Because of my experience as her caregiver, I became a volunteer for ‘Carers UK’, giving weekly listening support to other caregivers over the telephone. I was unable to talk with my mother about her impending death before she passed, so since then I have become a volunteer for ‘Future Matters’, which helps people put their final life-plans in place (e.g., wills, powers of attorney, and most critically – Advanced Care Plans).  I run workshops, talks, 1-on-1 sessions, and death cafes.  Never did I think I would enjoy talking to people about death, dying, and bereavement.  I am also trustee/chair for a number of charities in England and Wales, and look after 4 of our 6 grandchildren one day a week (with husband Roger). Another thing I never expected was the expansion of our extended family from the two of us to fourteen (4 of whom live in Sydney). In July 2018 we sold our large Georgian house of 30 years.  A year later, we settled into an apartment in the same neighborhood, in a converted post office sorting office.  Lots of changes – we’re still learning as we go along.