Nancy died on January 24, 2014, at the age of 82. She was a former Kalamazoo College trustee (1978-1986) and a generous benefactor of the College. She and her husband, Tom, who survives, were ardent supporters of K, and the Woodworth Baseball Field honors their many gifts to that program, among others. Nancy was the daughter of Dr. E. Gifford and Love (Barnett) Upjohn and the granddaughter of Dr. Lawrence and Gratia (Clough) Upjohn. She earned her bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Michigan and received a degree in management training from Harvard-Radcliffe College. Nancy and Tom were married on June 26, 1954. Nancy spent the early years of her marriage teaching 3rd grade at Washington Elementary in the Kalamazoo Public School System. She was a devoted mother who organized the activities of her busy children while making time to serve her community. In addition to her service on the Kalamazoo College Board of Trustees, she was active in Girl Scouts, The Kalamazoo Service Club, and the Visiting Nurses Association. She was an enthusiastic hockey mom who attended most of her four sons’ games with bell in hand to announce their teams’ goals. After Tom retired from Graff Trucking, Tom and Nancy moved to Sanibel Island, Florida, where she was a volunteer docent at the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. She also supported the Sanibel Playhouse, and became a member of the Captiva Island Yacht Club. Nancy was happiest at the bridge table or on the tennis court. These remained life-long interests for her both at Gull Lake and at her home on Sanibel.
Michael was named mayor of Sterling Heights, Michigan, on December 3. He will serve the remainder of former Mayor Richard Notte’s term. Notte died in October of pancreatic cancer. During Notte’s absence due to his illness, Taylor had been chairing City Council meetings and carrying out the duties of mayor as mayor pro tem. He was sworn in as mayor by the City Council on December 16. Michael earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and studied abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico. He earned his J.D. from Wayne State University Law School, after which he moved to Sterling Heights. He is a senior attorney at the firm of Davis Burket Savage Listman Brennan (Mount Clemens, Mich.). He and his wife Christina have a daughter and a son.
Britta is a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgyzstan. “I thought of LuxEsto last month,” she wrote in January, “when my new host brother was born. His name, Nurbolot, means ’There will be light’ in Kyrgyz.” Winters are pretty cold in Kyrgyzstan: “I spend much of my day huddled around my space heater,” added Britta. Britta wrote an article about her experiences that appears in the this issue of BeLight.
Tim is the new principal of Mattawan (Mich.) High School, about ten miles west of Kalamazoo. He spent more than 20 years as a teacher and principal (since 2002) at Hackett Catholic Prep in Kalamazoo. At K Tim majored in biology and studied abroad in Madrid, Spain. He has a master’s degree from Western Michigan University.
What a blessing that Kalamazoo College’s 17th president, Eileen B. Wilson-Oyelaran, did not decide to retire a year earlier than she did (her last day on the job will June 30, 2016). Her successor, K’s 18th president (elect), Jorge G. Gonzalez, who currently serves as dean and vice president for academic affairs at Occidental College (Los Angeles, Calif.), may possibly have been ready to make a career change and relocate sooner, but in that hypothetical case his spouse, K alumna Suzie (Martin) Gonzalez ’83 would likely have remained in L.A. Why? Because of her children. Not the couple’s daughter and son (Kristina, a recent University of Southern California graduate who works in commercial real estate in L.A. and Carlos, a sophomore majoring in computer science at Rice University), but instead the kids with whom Suzie works as a school psychologist at the El Monte City School District.
“Adults are more equipped to understand a relocation based on a job change—one’s own or one’s spouse’s,” says Suzie. “But an adolescent may feel it is a violation of the trust we’ve worked so hard to build and share. Last year I had a group of eighth graders with whom I’d worked a long time. I wouldn’t have left them just before they started high school. But this year was fine, so the timing for Jorge’s selection as K’s president worked out perfectly.”
That kind of fierce devotion to the well-being of school aged kids has long been a fundamental element of Suzie’s character. She came to K from Puerto Rico. (Some back story on that fact. Suzie was born in Kalamazoo, shortly after which her family moved to Mexico City and, several years later, to Puerto Rico. Her father worked as an executive for The Upjohn Company and managed company operations in both places respectively.) In fact, Suzie’s first return to Kalamazoo was for her first year at K.
She majored in psychology and earned a minor in political science as well as her teaching certification. During her career service term she worked with three-, four- and five-year-olds at the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Head Start program. She studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, and for her Senior Individualized Project she taught history at Paw Paw (Mich.) High School. Her SIP experience influenced her decision to earn her Ph.D. in educational psychology (1989, Michigan State University). “In my high school classes there were so many students with needs that could not be effectively addressed by a classroom teacher,” explains Suzie.
She has worked as a school psychologist in San Antonio, Texas, and in Los Angeles. When she returns to Kalamazoo this July Suzie plans to take a year to assess how busy she will be as K’s “first lady.” But don’t be surprised if she becomes a school psychologist at a nearby district, which certainly will be a blessing for those kids with whom she’ll work.
Like her husband, Suzie is a great sports fan. Soccer tops his list, college football hers. Both are passionate about the Spartans and, of course, the Hornets. BeLight is grateful to Suzie for making time for its “Lighten Up” interview.
What’s the best song ever recorded?
Stevie Wonder’s “You Are the Sunshine of my Life”
What’s your favorite childhood fairy tale or story?
The Little Engine That Could
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
“I love that you followed your passion and did well.”
What’s your favorite word?
What’s your least favorite word?
What turns you on?
Living each day to the fullest
What turns you off?
What sound do you love?
What sound do you hate?
What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I originally came to K intending to major in political science. So I guess a lawyer specializing on educational issues.
What profession would you not like to participate in?
A computer scientist. I don’t have the passion, or probably the aptitude.
What’s been a GREAT MOMENT in your liberal arts learning?
Going to the Grand Rapids United Methodist Community House and being greeted by the smiling faces of the eager Head Start youngsters ready to play and learn during my K career development.
Who’s the person (living or dead) with whom you’d most like to spend a lunch hour?
Lev Vygotsky. He was a developmental psychologist who believed that social and cultural context significantly influence a child’s development.
What memory from childhood still surprises you?
All the moves my family made when I was growing up. For some this may seem counter-intuitive, but I have very good memories associated with changing homes. I think the experience fostered great flexibility.
What is your favorite curse word?
Well, my colleagues at work would probably tell you that the word is “shoot.”
What is your favorite hobby?
Reading. Right now I’m in the middle of a romantic comedy.
What is your favorite comedy movie?
What local, regional, national, or world event has affected you most?
The attacks on September 11, 2001
Since 2007 Sandy has served as a Kalamazoo County Circuit Court Judge. On May 25 the Michigan Supreme Court appointed him to the Kalamazoo County Business Court. As a business court judge, Sandy will oversee the court’s specialized business docket, which includes any case that involves a business or commercial dispute. All circuit courts in Michigan with three or more judges are required by law to have a business court. Statewide, there are currently 16 business courts and more than 900 opinions posted in a searchable online database. A bankruptcy attorney with more than a decade of experience, Sandy served as State Representative for Michigan’s 60th District from 2000 through 2006, where his committee work focused on economic and business issues. Sandy was the Vice Mayor of Kalamazoo from 1993 to 1995 and Kalamazoo City Commissioner from 1989 to 1993. At K he earned his bachelor’s degree in physics, and he currently serves on the College’s board of trustees. He earned his law degree from the University of Michigan. Sandy presides over the 9th Circuit Court’s Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program as lead judge and is an alternate judge for the drug treatment court.
Two Muses Theatre (West Bloomfield, Mich.) presents the award-winning play Love, Loss, and What I Wore (by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron), May 30 through June 15, and Lila (in the role of Gingy) will headline the cast of the production’s second weekend. Each weekend’s performance features a unique cast with a local celebrity. A former news anchor, Lila runs a production company, Lila Productions, and currently hosts the award-winning Discover Remarkable series on WXYZ. The Two Muses stagings are a collaboration with Closet NV to raise clothing donations for Dress for Success, a worldwide organization whose mission is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire to help them thrive in work and in life. Lila is no stranger to hard work on behalf of important causes. She swam the Straits of Mackinac (a 5-mile swim) to raise money and awareness for Mentor Michigan, and each fall she climbs from one end of the Grand Canyon to the other (21 miles) and back again. In 2007, she was appointed to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness. An avid motorcyclist, Lila was recently named Michigan’s Ambassador of Motorcycle Safety. She is active in many community and charitable organizations, serves on multiple boards, and is currently President of Kids Kicking Cancer. She’s also very involved with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization. She’s been a Big Sister for 20 years.
Katy spent several weeks in Ecuador coaching a refugee youth rock climbing team and teaching English classes for Colombian refugees soon to be resettled in the United States and Canada. She has returned to the United States and is in the process of applying to graduate schools to earn a master’s degree in public policy or public affairs. The picture shows her in Ecuador on the Imbabura Volcano. She earned her bachelor’s degree in international and area studies, and she studied abroad in Dakar, Senegal.
In July of 2015 Melanie, an ordained United Methodist pastor since 1991, will begin serving as the clergy assistant to the Bishop of The Michigan Area of the United Methodist Church. In this new role Melanie will be based in Lansing and will be working with the Bishop to help serve the 900 United Methodist congregations of Michigan as well as the communities in which these congregations are located. The Spanish major she earned at K has served her well during her work through many church and community efforts with the growing U.S. Latino population. Melanie also is completing four years as the district superintendent of the Detroit Renaissance District, where in 2012 she started a now annual event called Hands 4 Detroit, a day of community service, which has involved more than 1,200 volunteers each year who roll up their sleeves and work. Volunteers have boarded up old houses, planted community gardens, painted, cleaned up trash, and even built a soccer field!
Jacquelyn is principal lecturer and honors faculty fellow at Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University. She received the 2015 Arizona State University Centennial Professorship, an award created by the Associated Students of A.S.U. that recognizes exceptional teaching, leadership and community engagement. Last year, the A.S.U. Commission on the Status of Women awarded Jacquelyn its Outstanding Contribution and Achievement Award for her longstanding commitment to mentoring, diversity and inclusion at Arizona State.