In Memory

Donald Davidson ’38, M.D.

Don died on November 29, 2016. He was 100 years old. At K he majored in biology and earned his medical degree at the University of Michigan. Don served as a medic in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He practiced medicine in the Gogebic Range in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for many years. As a family doctor he provided all types of care, from house calls to surgery, and sports physicals to convalescent and nursing home care. But his favorite part of medicine was delivering babies. And there were many throughout the years. Don and his wife Laura raised a family of six children. They enjoyed their retirement years at Lake Gogebic and in Honolulu, where Don volunteered as a docent at the Honolulu Aquarium. They moved together to Rochester, Minn., to enjoy their final years together. Laura died in 2009.

Anne (Whitfield) Nordhus ’48

Anne died on September 27, 2016, at her home in Chico, California. She earned her B.A. in English at K and then earned a Master’s degree in the subject from Breadloaf College (Middlebury, Vermont). In 1952 she took a three-year teaching job at Robert College in Istanbul. While sailing to Turkey she met her husband, Philip Nordhus. They dated in Turkey, married in London and honeymooned in Europe. In 1957 they settled in Chico, and both worked at Chico State University. Anne taught in the departments of English and education and worked in administration. News of her passing reached BeLight from Anne’s friend and classmate Jackie Mallinson. “Annie was one of the stars in our class,” wrote Jackie, “very friendly and outgoing, and loved by all. We were in college during the ‘Big Band’ era. One of our classmates, Jack Dentler, started ‘broadcasting’ Big Band records from his room in Hoben South to the girls then living in Hoben North. This was during the height of World War II, and our freshman year there were only 35 men on campus, and they lived in Hoben South. The ‘overflow’ of freshman women were housed on Hoben North for a few semesters before the return of the WWII vets. (Of course, there was a wall dividing the two halves of Hoben.)

“Jack’s ‘broadcasting’ led to the birth of the campus radio station, WJMD, the call letters coming from his initials–John M. Dentler. I’m sharing this because it is my understanding that Annie died quietly while Big Band music was playing in the background. And her love of it began as a freshman in Hoben North. Not a bad way to go.”

Delio Frisoni ’50

Delio died on November 3, 2016. He earned his degree in psychology at K, and some six months after graduation he married Anne Nemeth. They celebrated their 65th anniversary on February 3, 2016. Delio and Anne have three children and four grandchildren. Delio worked as an accountant for the Mishawaka Utilities, and was a CPA at Wells Aluminum before retiring.

Ernest Piechocki ’51

Ernest died on January 9, 2017. At K he majored in economics and business and played quarterback for the football Hornets. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He enjoyed a long career at the Kalamazoo-based company Spearflex Flexible Controls, where he served as director of purchasing. Ernest enjoyed golfing, travel and fishing. His wife, Gloria, survives. She and Ernest were married for 69 years.

Dennis Kring ’52

Dennis died on October 1, 2016, in Shalimar, Florida. At K he earned his degree in physics and shortly  after graduating married Joyce Lavalle Dye. Dennis served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. He enjoyed a 40-year career as an engineer for NASA. He and Joyce were married 64 years, and they have five children, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Mary Jane (Faugust) Thomason ’56

Mary Jane died on September 22, 2016. She attended K and graduated from the University of Michigan with a nursing degree. She worked at the infirmaries at University of California-Irvine and Irvine Valley College. She was an avid traveler, tennis player, backpacker and skier who loved the Sierras and the desert. She and her husband, Robert, were married 60 years and have four children and eight grandchildren.

James Hightower ’58

Jim died on October 3, 2016. He was the son of Raymond Hightower, who was a professor of sociology and dean at Kalamazoo College and a Kalamazoo City Commissioner and Mayor. Jim’s mother, Jeanne Matthews Hightower, was an elementary school teacher and reading specialist. Academics were central in the family that included three boys, all of whom graduated from K.

At K Jim majored in economics. He met his future wife, Sharon Wiley ’59, the first day of classes. They married in 1957 and moved to California in 1959. Both Jim and Sharon received degrees from Claremont Graduate University. Jim earned a Master’s degree and Ph.D. in economics. He taught at the University of Richmond for three years and, in 1969, began his 35-year career in the California State University system, which included teaching and administrative positions at CSU-Fullerton and in the CSU Chancellor’s Office. He is survived by Sharon, his wife of 59 years, their son, daughter-in-law and grandaughter, among other family members.

John William Thompson ’60

John died on January 23, 2017. He matriculated to K from Indiana, and at K he majored in economics and business. He continued his education at the University of Chicago School of Law and after graduation began his lifetime career in commercial banking. John was an avid sports fan, particularly fond of the Chicago Cubs. He enjoyed spending time with his family and fishing. John is survived by his two daughters and his son and several grandchildren.

Jim Cousineau ’70

Jim died on January 15, 2017, unexpectedly while cross-country skiing. At K Jim majored in mathematics and studied abroad in Muenster, Germany. He also played football for the Hornets. Jim earned master’s degrees in divinity and guidance counseling. He worked as a school counselor and as the pastor to many churches. He enjoyed cross country skiing, hunting, fishing, writing and spending time with family and friends.

Matthew Berrien Smith ’70

Kalamazoo College recently learned that Matt died on November 18, 2008. He attended Kalamazoo College and later graduated from the University of Michigan, where he majored in English. He taught at the middle school and high school levels in Ann Arbor and then focused his career on corporate training and video production at Magnetic Video in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Later he designed and administered seminars that focused on creative problem solving. His clients for these seminars were Fortune 500 companies in the Detroit area and nationally. In the 1990s he returned to the classroom, teaching at Kennedy Middle School and Lake Shore High School in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. He was an award-winning teacher who retired in 2005. His avocations included poetry, story telling and making collages.

Gerald Magneson ’75, Ph.D.

Jerry died on November 11, 2016. He came to K from Port Huron, Michigan. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology. He earned a M.A. and Ph.D. in biochemistry from Purdue University. Jerry was an analytical biochemist and formulator, with more than 25 years of experience in research and development in the biotechnology/pharmaceutical industry. During his career, he worked at Instrumentation Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts; Genzyme Corporation in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Cardinal Health/Catalent in San Diego, California; GTC Biotherapeutics, Inc. in Framingham, Massachusetts; and Neoprobe Corporation/Navidea Biopharmaceuticals in Dublin, Ohio. He was the primary investigator and author of five U.S. patents. His last patent was awarded for the formulation of the radio-labeled, lyophilized nuclear imaging agent Lymphoseek, which is used in surgical processes to detect breast cancer, melanoma, head and neck cancer, as well as other applications. It was approved for manufacture and distribution by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Union. He loved to play racquet sports and was an avid spectator of football and baseball. Jerry is survived by his wife of 41 years, Kristin.

Terry Nelson, former assistant professor of psychology

Terry died on November 14, 2016. He grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota and earned his B.A. from Hamline University. He earned his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Minnesota (1968) and then taught in the psychology department at K from 1968 to 1972. Terry returned to the Twin Cities where he began a private practice in psychology. He is survived by his wife, Connie, four sons and nine grandchildren.

Gerald Poggi, assistant professor of classics

Gerald Poggi (left) in Cairo, Egypt

Gerald Poggi (left) in Cairo, Egypt

Jerry died unexpectedly of an apparent heart attack on September 28, 2016, in Cairo, Egypt. He taught in the classics department at Kalamazoo College from 1966 to 1970.

Jerry was born in New York City and attended Regis High School in Manhattan. He graduated from Iona College (New Rochelle, New York) and accepted a fellowship in Latin and Greek from the University of Chicago in 1965 where he earned a master’s degree.

After his four years teaching at K he returned to the University of Chicago to work in administration. He and his partner, Bill (who died in 1992), left Chicago and went to the West Coast where Jerry entered the corporate world as an executive with Hughes Aircraft. Jerry also earned a Ph.D in comparative literature from the University of Southern California.

Jerry and Bill moved to Milwaukee where Jerry worked with Miller Brewing. His last position was with the State of Maryland  as a personnel director. He retired at the age of 62 and moved to Cairo, visiting the United States for several months each year. Jerry is survived by his partner, Ashraf, and his brother, Gregory, who is a professor at the University of Michigan.

Conrad Hilberry, Professor Emeritus of English

Conrad HillberryIn a speech he gave in 1987, Professor Emeritus of English Conrad Hilberry said,”When I think of poems that I am especially drawn to, I find they often have a silence, a mystery at the center.”

Today Con is that silence, a life now part of a “mystery at the center” into which words will penetrate insufficiently at best, the way sunlight beneath the surface of a deep ocean shimmers a few meters at most then disappears.

Con died on January 11, 2017. Several weeks previous, his daughter, Jane, wrote that her father had written to her that he planned to “make his exit” after Christmas but wasn’t sure he could endure that long. He endured and then died from complications of cancer and pneumonia. He was 88 years old.

Con earned his B.A. at Oberlin College, his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin. Attracted to “the promise of a college that was willing to try things,” Con was recruited to Kalamazoo College by Larry Barrett, a colleague in the English department and later a dear friend. Con started his career at K in 1962, the first full year of the bold and quirky curriculum called the K-Plan. He retired in 1998. In between, countless students of all majors and liberal arts inclinations fondly recall his literature and writing classes and especially his poetry courses. He wrote 11 volumes of poetry. His latest, Until the Full Moon Has Its Say, he wrote in his mid-eighties, and many of its poems are villanelles, a demanding form Con seemed to execute with ease. Like his friend and colleague Larry Barrett, whom he eulogized in 2002, Con was “in business right to the end.”

His prolificity as a poet sometimes obscured the fact that he was a marvelous writer of prose, author of the genre-bending creative nonfiction piece, Luke Karamazov, and countless essays and chapel talks, often on poets such as John Donne and Galway Kinnell, two he particularly loved, though there are many many more. Con loved to illustrate with poems the ideas he articulated in his prose as if to remind us that poetry (as he once said) can be a brief and invigorating elevation from the “lowly ground” of our inward selves–not that such ground is bereft of beauty and mystery, only that our souls seek a glimpse of something abundant beyond our own inwardness. Con often found that abundance, “a pool of meaning,” in the ordinary.

He was a remarkable teacher, entirely and joyfully at home in the “arches and vaults” of the liberal arts, created when the seemingly separate disciplines lean together and conjoin. He continually sought inspiration for his own work (both his teaching and his poetry) in the subject matters of his colleagues and friends in biology, mathematics, religion, philosophy, physics and psychology, to name just a few. Often he’d audit courses in different departments as grist for his imagination, for example John Spencer’s seminar on Alfred North Whitehead and David Evans’s class on ethology. What he learned in those classes found its way into his poems, intentionally or not. Most of all he loved K students, and the effect on them of the K-Plan: their genius, he wrote, “for combining academic work and off-campus experience in just the way to allow themselves the most dramatic growth.”

In 1995, three years before his retirement, he began teaching night classes in poetry at the Stryker Center. These he continued for some 15 years, and many of his ex-students and members of the greater Kalamazoo community attended. Con helped poets make and publish their poems, and the list of these writers is impressive, including, among others, Susan Blackwell Ramsey, Corey Marks, Gail McMurray Martin, Marie Bahlke, Kit Almy, Gail Griffin, Rob Dunn, Hedy Habra, Marion Boyer, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Jane Hilberry, Amy Newday, and his lifelong student and friend, Pulitzer Prize finalist Diane Seuss. His beloved wife of 60 years, Marion, who died on April 8, 2008, often joined him in these classes.

In an essay he wrote on Galway Kinnell, Con described the opposition between poems and the notion of the final word. Comments on poems we perceive as “right on certain points and wrong on others,” he said. “But no one sees [those comments, even if they are the author’s] as the last word, equivalent to the poem itself. We always assume there is more to be said as the complexities of the poem take different configurations from other readers….Whenever a reading is taken as final, the poem is diminished.”

He managed his classes like that, starting things off, then sitting back to listen and provide space for students’ voices–for that peculiar confluence of text and the texture of readers’ lives, from which arises meaning. “I just need to choose the right books,” he once said. “Then the students notice things about the poems, and they teach each other.”

He was a poet and teacher of the people, deeply involved in the city of Kalamazoo’s Poetry on Buses program during its heyday. Often, with fellow poets (and friends) Herb Scott and John Woods (English professors at neighboring Western Michigan University) among others, Con would bring poetry into public middle schools, somehow managing to engage that always potentially intractable audience into the “best poems,” which Con considered an ineffable harmony of vividness (which the junior high students loved) and wholeness (where, often, the work began). He served as an editor of the Third Coast anthologies of Michigan poets and seemed to be a friend to every writer therein.

In his teaching prime Con’s presence was unforgettable, especially his red hair and ready smile. His limp and the rattle of his bike always suggested some past accident that had had no effect on his love of biking steep grades, celebrating gravity. And why not celebrate the force that holds us in what he called our “borrowed dust” for our short while on earth–the best, the only place for love.

In his last chapel talk (2001), using a line from a poem by Stanley Kunitz, Con said, “I have walked through many lives, some of them my own.” Indeed, Con contained multitudes.

Near the end, when Con was in the hospital, before he came home for hospice care, he said to his daughter, Jane, “I still have some talents left.  One of them is sleeping.  Another one is laughing.”

So like Con: able to sort by scent the smoke of sleep and laughter. He was, to the very end, the poet of the ordinary’s miracle.

Frederick Strobel, former Stephen B. Monroe Professor of Money and Banking

FredStrobelFred, who taught economics and business administration at Kalamazoo College for two decades (1974-1994), died on December 22, 2016. He was 79 years old.

Born and reared in Quincy, Massachusetts, Fred earned a bachelor’s degree (accounting) and M.B.A. from Northeastern University, and he earned his master’s degree (economics) and Ph.D. (economics) from Clark University. He served as a lecturer at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Clark University, and he was a professor of economics for three years at Holy Cross College. Prior to joining K’s faculty he served as senior business economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. At K Fred was the Stephen B. Monroe Professor of Money and Banking. In that position he developed meaningful relationships with executives in the banking industry, and he planned and presented the annual Monroe Seminar on campus. That day-and-a-half event–“a vital, enriching contribution to the department and the College as a whole,” according to Fred’s colleague, Professor Emeritus of Economics Phil Thomas–featured a prominent keynote speaker and always a capacity audience. Fred, too, used the occasion to deliver major talks on the economic outlook of the region, country and world.

He was a prolific scholar who published articles in Business Week, The American Banker, The Eastern Economic Journal and the Journal of Economic Issues. He was a much sought-after viewpoint writer for the Kalamazoo Gazette, the Detroit News and other daily newspapers, and he was a frequent radio talk show guest on the subjects of the decline of the middle class and the creation of a two-class society in the United States. Fred wrote two books, Upward Dreams, Downward Mobility: The Economic Decline of the American Middle Class (1993) and The Coming Class War and How to Avoid It (1999). His thinking was prescient; according to Phil: “His books identified and documented the decline of the middle class long before the issue entered the national consciousness and policy debate.”

In 1992 Fred received a six-week appointment as visiting professor of economics at Moscow State University, where he taught a course in money and banking to a group of 60 Russian undergraduate and graduate students.

In 1994 Fred became the William G. and Marie Selby Chair of Economics at the New College of the University of South Florida in Sarasota. He taught there until his retirement in 2008.

Fred is survived by two daughters, Heidi Strobel and Gretchen Strobel. Heidi is a K graduate, class of 1990. A memorial service for Fred will occur in Stetson Chapel on Saturday, February 25, at 3 p.m. A reception in the Olmsted Room will follow the service.