Remembrances of Tad Gesek

I was sad to read in a Vassar Quarterly about Tad Gesek's death [letters, Fall 2003]. He meant a great deal to me during my four years at Vassar. I am sorry I didn't know to write sooner.

In 1959, as a sophomore, I took Drama 105, which was then the introductory theater course in the drama department. (I wonder if it is, still?) It was Tad's first year at Vassar, and I remember making a sketch for him of a set design for Maeterlinck's "The Blind" for which he was kind enough to show enthusiasm. And I was hooked! By the end of the year I changed my major to drama, and by my senior year he was encouraging me to go to the Yale Drama School for graduate work. I did and have spent the years since working in theater and television. I even went back to teach at Vassar for a year while Tad was on sabbatical.

Tad gave early training to a number of students at Vassar who went on in various areas of professional theatrical design, but I guess I was the first, and he nurtured and challenged me for the three years I studied under him. His enthusiasm was boundless in all of his projects: I am sure there are several alumnae who recall his unflagging interest in his brown paper bag sculpture! He was able to infect his interested students with some of the same enthusiasm. He was inventive and imaginative both as an artist and a teacher, and as a teacher he was a fair and good critic.

I knew Tad in his early days at Vassar but I'm sure the qualities I valued and admired in him lasted throughout his time there. His love of theater was contagious; he was patient with students who would have rather been on stage than backstage. He loved teaching, and he loved Vassar. The combination was unbeatable. I will miss him and will always remember him with love and gratitude. I'm sure many others will also.

Virginia Dancy Webb '62
New York, New York

Editor's Note:

In response to Ms. Webb's question: The drama department's introduction to theater is now titled "Drama 100: Introduction to Western Drama." This course is a prerequisite for students interested in taking more advanced drama classes.

Letters for Special Collections

I am trying to help Ronald Patkus, head of Vassar's Archives and Special Collections, to collect letters that I have written to former students. He would like this collection to be part of the Archives in the Vassar College Library, where they will be preserved and managed in keeping with professional standards.

He would prefer to receive originals but will be happy to return copies if you ask. There is no deadline on this project — old letters are likely to be tucked away in cellars and attics. Any letters you have may be sent to me at the address below; I will then formally donate them to the Archives. Thanks.

William Gifford
c/o Archives and Special Collections
Vassar College, Box 20
124 Raymond Avenue
Poughkeepsie, New York 12604

Dispelling Myths

I am ashamed to admit that I have never written to the Vassar Quarterly; however, a touching and ultimately infuriating (to me) update in the Class Notes of the most recent issue [Winter 2003] finally prompted me to take the time to do so. I was both so saddened and extremely frustrated to read about one couple's struggle in dealing with female factor infertility specifically related to severe endometriosis, I was, at last, prompted to "take mouse in hand."

Though little surprises or shocks me when dealing with this disease after decades of experience as a patient, research scientist, author, support group leader, and health care professional, the "frustrating" aspect of the couple's note stemmed from the common myths and misunderstandings about the disease contained within their story. Endometriosis is a complex disease involving both the gynecologic and, significantly, the immune systems of the estimated 10 percent of women in North America afflicted with this disorder.

Pregnancy is not a "cure" for endometriosis. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for endometriosis. Although pregnancy may "temporarily suspend" the symptoms, and a hysterectomy generally provides the most significant long-term decrease in the symptoms, some studies have shown that the recurrence rate following a hysterectomy may be as high as 30 percent.

As a member, consultant, researcher, lecturer, and writer for the Endometriosis Association and other organizations, it has been my passion and mission to dispel common myths surrounding the disease. As a result, I have spent much of my post-VC life educating patients, the general public, adolescents, and physicians alike about the latest research about endometriosis.

My attempts to involve Vassar in my efforts are long overdue, and I am only sorry that the impetus to finally do so stemmed from a fellow alum's unfortunate situation.

Grace I. Migaki '91
White River Junction, Vermont

Editor's note

Grace wrote the chapter on the immune system and endometriosis for the Endometriosis Association's newest book Endometriosis: The Complete Reference for Taking Charge of Your Health (McGraw-Hill, 2003). Watch for a profile about Grace and her work in an upcoming issue of the magazine.