In Memoriam: Jean Crego '32

When Jean Crego ’32 died on December 12, 2005, at age 95, she was serving as class president, as well as class correspondent. Indeed, in the 77 years since she was elected class cheerleader in her freshman year, there was never a time when she was not working for Vassar College, from which she also earned an M.A. degree in sociology in 1944.

Over the years Jean was a major force in creating the cohesiveness that distinguishes 1932, holding almost every class office, some more than once. For AAVC, she served most notably as chair of the Nominating and Alumnae House Committees and a wise adviser to the association’s leadership. Although she consented in 1999 to having a special room at Alumnae House dedicated to her by her classmates, she turned down other honors and never allowed her name to be attached to the many financial gifts she made to the college. But as quiet and unassuming as she was, she became a warrior when faced with intellectual dishonesty, specious reasoning, and misuse of the English language.

If you are one of the people who has been touched by Jean’s extraordinary devotion to Vassar, you may wish to send a gift in her honor to Shelly Sherman at the Development Office, Box 14, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY 12604, to be used for the benefit of Alumnae House.

Marjorie Bain Chadsey ’47 
Seattle, Washington

Mary Meeker Gesek ’58 
Poughkeepsie, New York

Kay Holman Langan ’46 
Greenwich, Connecticut

In Memoriam: Megan Perry '02

Few could be as saddened as I by the death of Megan Perry ’02. As she was a much admired and beloved figure at Vassar, I would like to say a few words about her.

I’m very lucky to be able to say that I knew Meg well. Meg was a lot for anyone to handle. She was bursting with seemingly endless energy and love for life. Meg embraced everything that crossed her path (except maybe her senior thesis). At Vassar, Meg was a cognitive science major—but I knew her because she was involved in various dramatic productions and employed at the Powerhouse; the cast and crew of Suburbia will remember well all of our hijinks and adventures.

After graduation, Meg toured the U.S. with Dragon Tales Live as a stagehand. When the tour ended she moved to Portland, Maine, close to her family and childhood, and became involved with the People’s Free Space and the local community. Growing restless and politically charged, Meg then took off to Kenya to live with a local family and assist with organic farming and education. When she returned to the States, she gave herself a tiny respite to see all of her friends in the class of ’05 graduate. But when Hurricane Katrina hit, Meg was soon on her way to the Gulf Coast to volunteer, led once again by her boundless compassion and spirit of adventure.

Her experiences helped to shape Meg into a strong leader and articulate spokesperson for social change. She had always been an inspiration to me, so I was quick to accompany her back to the disaster zone when she brought the big green Frida Bus, a vegetable-and-biodiesel-powered community space used by the People’s Free Space. On the Gulf Coast we worked together to give help to those who need it most, and are not getting it from other places. I was with Meg Perry in the tragic bus accident that caused her death. The rest of the crew came out fine, but a huge part of us was missing.

Meg held a special place in our hearts that cannot easily be filled. I know many Vassar people reading this are feeling the same way. Meg, we will all miss you.

Peter Hazen ’05
Lockport, New York

Re: "A Mission of His Own"

This story about Dr. Matthew Koss ’83 [Fall 2005 VQ] is one of the most moving and inspiring pieces I have read in some time. Tears came to my eyes, and I felt intense sympathy and admiration for the determination and courage of this extraordinary scientist and human being who suffered and endured. He convinced me of the rightness of his message to The New York Times and the House Science Committee.

Dorothy Danzig Hull ’45
Santa Monica, California

Kudos and Concerns

Congratulations on the Winter 2005 issue of the Vassar Quarterly. The feature articles on Christine Low ’83 and Richard Van Demark ’77 were beautifully written and inspiring (especially the latter), and the Vassar Today and Beyond Vassar profiles were wonderfully informative.

I read the Quarterly eagerly and faithfully, but I have recently been concerned about errors that seem to be creeping into its pages. I am very familiar with the current decline in the speaking and writing of our language, but I had hoped that Vassar would not succumb to it in its publications.

Four examples of what I mean are in the first and third sentences of page 14 in the current issue in the article “Vassar in the Funny Books.” The first sentence lacks a comma (after comics), and the second part of the sentence should have been re­phrased to avoid ending with a preposition (i.e., “…for which she had a better vocabulary and understanding”). The third sentence is a fragment, not a sentence, and a “22-line sonnet” by definition is not a sonnet. (Most unfortunately, the third sentence is also singled out for a quotation on this page.)

How did these escape the editing process? I hope you will take my pointing them out not as a judgment but as in the spirit of wishing the Quarterly to be the best it can be.

Lois Wien ’53
New York, New York

Learning about La Gonave

Having lived for six years in Haiti in the 1990s, I was pleased to see Corinne Militello Kalina’s ’98 piece in the Winter 2005 issue about Christine Low’s ’83 Haitian teaching experience, but disappointed that the well-known island of La Gonâve was not given its proper due as a geographic place name and with standard French spelling. Lagonav—the spelling used on the VQ cover, and in the title of and throughout Ms. Kalina’s piece—is Haitian Creole, largely a spoken but seldom written language, even though Creole and French have been the co-national languages of Haiti since 1987.

Since colonial times, however, the French spelling of Haitian place names has been accepted practice. Also, while the writer calls La Gonâve “tiny,” it is actually larger than the more famous Caribbean island destination of Martinique, while Haiti itself—the second independent republic (1804) in the New World after the United States—is about the size of Vermont, Maryland, or Ireland, and slightly bigger than Israel. A bit more information—in addition to standard French spelling usage—would have enhanced an otherwise valuable piece.

Dana Little ’62
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Editor's Note

As I write this, the campus is abuzz with news of Catharine (Cappy) Bond Hill becoming Vassar’s 10th president in July. While looking toward the future can be exciting, remembering and reflecting on our history and traditions are crucial to maintaining the Vassar we love. With that in mind, we have prepared this special issue of Vassar devoted to its leaders, especially our outgoing president, Frances Daly Fergusson. We look back at Vassar’s nine presidents and remember important dates from Vassar’s and the world’s history.

After reading the comments commemorating Fran by alumnae/i, faculty, and students, we encourage you to visit a special website to share your own good wishes for Fran. And we hear from Fran in her own words.

I hope you enjoy this special issue and join me in wishing President Fergusson a fond farewell and thanking her for her 20 years of fine stewardship of our alma mater. — Samantha Trautman Soper ’91