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Kari Howard (MSJ85)

Visit the tribute site created by her friends and colleagues.

LA Times Obit

Kari Howard (MSJ85) a longtime Los Angeles Times editor who championed ambitious narrative journalism and helped edit the 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning series on California’s drought, died January 10, 2022, of cancer. She was 59.

Howard, a lover of music and writing who frequently quoted favorite songs and story sentences, worked as assistant foreign editor before becoming editor of Column One, the newspaper’s front-page narrative showcase. She sent out weekly emails in which she riffed on the musical associations of recent stories. A 2015 story about the effect of drought on giant sequoias, for example, reminded her of Jake Bugg’s “Pine Trees.”

“She exuded a love of language and had an incredible ability to help writers tell the stories they wanted to tell,” Times managing editor Scott Kraft said. “Writers loved working with her because she made them so much better. She loved stories and she had an innate sense of how to turn a draft of a story into something that was truly special.”

Howard was one of the editors for Diana Marcum’s series on the human consequences of California’s protracted drought, which won the Pulitzer for feature writing the following year.

“We were like one brain with that series,” Marcum said. “We would finish each other’s sentences. She never saw those stories as being about the drought. She saw those stories as being about people showing hope and resilience and character during a hard time.”

For Christmas that year, she bought Marcum a first edition of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” one of many books she gave her.

“She did everything with this sense of passion and integrity and whimsy,” Marcum said. “She had such a mix of steely resolve and whimsy.”

At The Times, Howard met her future husband, journalist Geoffrey Kelly, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack in Hong Kong in 2007.

Reporters sought out Howard to help them elevate their work and coach them through complicated stories. When she was honored with a Times editorial award in 2015, the judges noted “she sprinkled her pixie dust on more than 100 Column Ones, displaying talents that had writers throughout the building knocking on her door with ideas or simply seeking her advice about storytelling.”

When she left The Times in 2015, Howard wrote a farewell note to the staff, saying: “For those of you who don’t know why I’m leaving, I bought a farmhouse in a town called Liberty six years ago, and it’s time I finally started a new life, and new adventure, in Maine.”

She chopped her own firewood, took pleasure in renovating the farmhouse, and posted frequent rhapsodies to the area on Instagram, with images of wild lilies, lighthouses and the Oldest Shoe Store in America.

In one post, she ran a photo of her home office with vibrant foliage visible through the windows: “Globe. Books. Typewriter. Cat. Foliage. What else do you need?”

Howard went on to edit Storyboard, the narrative website of the Nieman Foundation, and in early 2018 became the London-based storytelling editor at the Reuters news service. She described her journalism mantra as “Examine closely. Connect with people. Don’t rush.”

Her new home inspired characteristic enthusiasm. “I’m about to bore everyone on Instagram with my new obsession: the signage, shutters and shiny doors of Spitalfields,” she wrote. “I live in this little pocket of early 18th century Georgian homes, and it’s like a movie set. (Apparently it literally is, because period movies like anything Austen are filmed here.)”

Howard was born in Manchester, N.H., and her father’s work as a telecommunications engineer took her from Arkansas to Scotland as a girl. She studied engineering herself briefly at Clemson University in South Carolina.

“She realized after a semester that wasn’t her calling,” said her sister, Alison Howard, a Seattle attorney.

Howard studied literature at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, and journalism at Medill. She worked as a copy editor at the Houston Chronicle and the Abilene Reporter-News before joining The Times in 1992.

Howard was diagnosed with cancer in 2018, with the disease already in an advanced stage. She returned to Maine from London late last year and continued working for Reuters until recent weeks.

“As you can tell from my Instagram, I’m not focused on the illness,” she wrote recently to a friend. “I’m trying to find joy in the smallest things. And it’s everywhere, isn’t it? I’m amazed by the world, and I’m so lucky and grateful for it all.”

Along with her sister, Howard is survived by her mother, Diane, of Phoenix.

https://www.latimes.com/obituaries/story/2022-01-10/kari-howard-times-editor-who-championed-narrative-writing-dead-at-59

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Valerie Boyd (BSJ85)

Photo: Valerie Boyd, the author of a critically acclaimed biography of Zora Neale Hurston, appears at a reading in D.C. in 2009. (Susan Biddle/The Washington Post)

By Emily Langer, Washington Post

Valerie Boyd, a journalist who chronicled the life of Zora Neale Hurston in a critically acclaimed biography and edited a forthcoming compilation of the journals of Alice Walker, thus illuminating African American women of letters from the Harlem Renaissance to the present day, died Feb. 12 at a hospital in Atlanta. She was 58.

The cause was pancreatic cancer, said her friend and power of attorney, Veta Goler.

Ms. Boyd spent nearly two decades as a reporter and arts editor at her hometown newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, training the journalistic eye that she would turn on Hurston in the biography that became her first major literary achievement of her own.

“Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston,” published in 2003, was the result of nearly five years of research. Ms. Boyd charted Hurston’s life from her birth in 1891 in Notasulga, Ala., to her upbringing in the all-Black town of Eatonville, Fla., through her literary activity during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s and her anthropological exploration of African American folklore, to the circumstances that led to her death in penury in 1960 in Florida, where she was buried in an unmarked grave.

“Because I am a Black Southern woman, I felt very close to Zora, as if I could paint a picture of her life almost from the inside out,” Ms. Boyd told an interviewer for the online magazine In Motion. “I wanted to give readers a sense of what it was like to be Zora, to walk in her shoes, to live inside her skin.”

Ms. Boyd’s 2003 biography of writer Zora Neale Hurston. (Scribner)
Ms. Boyd was an undergraduate at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., when she first read Hurston’s best-known work, the 1937 novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” a coming-of-age story about a Black woman named Janie Crawford.

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“I was just amazed,” Ms. Boyd said, “that a book published in 1937 could speak to me so clearly and so resonantly through the decades.”

Years later, she became a regular attendee of the annual festival held in honor of Hurston in Eatonville. In 1994, she said, she attended a speech there by Robert E. Hemenway, the author of a 1977 biography of the writer.

By Ms. Boyd’s account, Hemenway surveyed the shortcomings that he said were inherent in his book as a work about a Black woman written by a White man. According to Ms. Boyd, he said that Hurston was owed a new biography, by an African American woman.

“When I heard those words, I felt it was my calling,” Ms. Boyd told an interviewer with Northwestern. “But even though it felt like something I would do, the thought of doing it was just frightening.”

She put off the task, judging herself not ready. Less than two years later, a literary agent called to ask if she might be interested in writing a biography of Hurston. “I felt like fate was calling me — and that Zora herself was calling me,” Ms. Boyd said.

Hurston had complicated the job of any future biographer, Ms. Boyd wrote, by disguising “many truths of her life in a confounding but crackable code.” In order to obtain schooling at a Baltimore high school, she reported her age as 16 when she was in fact 26. Her 1942 autobiography, “Dust Tracks on a Road,” however skillfully written, proved an unreliable account of the facts of her life.

With the passage of time, more dust, as it were, had clouded the story of Hurston’s life. It had been partially cleared by Hemenway’s book and by volumes including “Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters” collected and edited by Carla Kaplan (2002). But in “Wrapped in Rainbows,” reviewer Jake Lamar wrote in The Washington Post, Ms. Boyd produced a “scrupulously researched, gracefully written” work that will “most likely remain the definitive Hurston biography for many years to come.”

Ms. Boyd’s project was a journalistic odyssey, in which she located the few living acquaintances of Hurston and scoured the archival records of her life. But it was also an “intuitive, spiritual process,” she said.

“Sometimes,” she told the Northwestern interviewer, “it seemed as if Zora would look at me in a very approving way, and sometimes she seemed to be looking at me like, ‘Oh, please.’ And I would dutifully press delete.”

Ms. Boyd often reflected on the sisterhood of African American writers, observing that “Zora’s, Alice’s and my generations are holding hands.” Alice was Alice Walker, the author of the 1982 novel “The Color Purple,” which received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for fiction and was adapted into a 1985 film starring Whoopi Goldberg. Walker had helped reawaken interest in Hurston with an article, “In Search of Zora Neale Hurston,” published in Ms. magazine in 1975.

Ms. Boyd happened to meet Walker during her research for the biography and said that Walker, upon learning of her work, touched her face and said, “Bless you, my child.” Some years after the publication of the Hurston biography, when Walker set out to publish her journals from the years 1965 to 2000, she selected Ms. Boyd as her partner in the endeavor.

“Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker,” edited by Ms. Boyd, is slated to be published April 12, according to the publishing house Simon and Schuster.

“Valerie Boyd was one of the best people ever to live, which she did as a free being,” Walker said in a statement provided by the Joy Harris Literary Agency. “Even though illness was stalking her the past several years, she accompanied me in gathering, transcribing, and editing my journals. … This was a major feat, a huge act of love and solidarity, of sisterhood, of soul generosity and shared joy, for which she will be remembered.”

Valerie Jean Boyd was born in Atlanta on Dec. 11, 1963. Her father ran a gas station and tire shop, and her mother was a homemaker.

Ms. Boyd received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern in 1985 and a master of fine arts in creative nonfiction writing from Goucher College in Towson, Md., in 1999.

In addition to her work at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ms. Boyd freelanced over the years for publications including The Washington Post. She was a senior editor at the publication the Bitter Southerner. In recent years, she was a writer in residence and professor at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia

At the time of her death, according to Simon and Schuster, Ms. Boyd was at work on an anthology titled “Bigger Than Bravery: Black Resilience and Reclamation in a Time of Pandemic.” Her survivors include two brothers.

Ms. Boyd noted that, in deference to her subject, she had visited Hurston’s grave in Fort Pierce, Fla., before embarking on the biography.

“I wanted to make a connection with Zora,” Ms. Boyd told the Journal-Constitution, “so I took an offering of Florida oranges, which she loved, and some money — she never had enough money in her life — and a pack of Pall Malls.”

Just as she was leaving, she saw a black crow similar to the one that had circled over the inaugural Hurston festival in 1990. Attendees had named it “Zora.” Ms. Boyd took the sign as permission to proceed.

“I believe that it was something that I was put here to do,” she told the Orlando Sentinel in 2003. “My destiny led me to Zora.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/obituaries/2022/02/15/zora-neale-hurston-biographer-valerie-boyd/?utm_campaign=wp_about_us&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_aboutus&carta-url=https%3A%2F%2Fs2.washingtonpost.com%2Fcar-ln-tr%2F361358f%2F620f8a5d9d2fda34e7992da9%2F61e19e609bbc0f2783c953a8%2F38%2F59%2F620f8a5d9d2fda34e7992da9

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Susan M. Tomaro (BSJ89, MSJ89)

Susan Mae Tomaro (1966-2021) loved life and loved her family, both given and chosen. She was the most beautiful, generous and loving soul. She was tender, gentle and kind. She gave fully of herself to both loved ones and acquaintances. 

Susan was the best partner that her husband Mark Delucchi could ask for. She completed him in every way. She was his North Star, his everything. She deeply loved her children. Clare, Celeste and Nicholas were her world. Everything she did was for them. Everyday, we see Susan in them as they express their excitement and joy, as they show tenderness and love, as they face challenges with grace and determination, and as they combat injustices with their wisdom and strength. They are amazing children because of her.

Family was important for Susan. Her grandmother, Susan, and her father, Nick, were very much a part of how she lived out her love and life. Though far from family, she was always connected to the love of her mother, Jeanne; her aunt and uncle, Kathy and Bob; her siblings Cindy & John and Nick & Blyth; and Kayla, Jordan, Anna and Jay. She loved the warmth and caring she received from Mark’s family, particularly his mother Carol and Godmother Marie.

She loved and pampered our dog, Momo, and Wrigley & Sammy before him. Susan loved taking the dogs on walks in the Grove, Stow Lake and the beach. She treasured time in the water and being in nature. Swimming, paddling, camping and hiking were sacred times for her in places like Big Basin, Moab, Crane Cove and in our National Parks. There she would connect with herself and with those around her. She was true to her Midwest roots, loving pickles, polka, a good kringle, twizzlers, and hoppy IPAs.

She was an avid reader of the news and literature. She loved her Milwaukee Brewers and Northwestern Wildcats and adopted the Giants. A gifted writer and editor, teacher and accountability coach; she helped countless people tell their stories of how they have transformed their world. Children and young adults with disabilities held a special place in her heart. As a cancer survivor, she was devoted to the study of lymphoma, participating in studies and seminars to further this field of research. 

Susan’s family is eternally grateful for the outpouring of love and support during her cancer treatment and at her sudden death on November 8th. She passed away blanketed in the love of both family and friends from around the world and from our local community.

Small private services will be held to remember this beautiful woman. To honor her, please consider a donation to the things she cared deeply about, such as the Sempervirens Fund to protect the redwood forests in Santa Cruz, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to support those with blood cancers, Camp Kesem that provides support to kids and families impacted by cancer, or the charity of your choice. Susan truly lived a life for others and calls us to do the same.

Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Nov. 11 to Nov. 14, 2021.

 

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Marshall Sella (MSJ88)

The Funny Man
by John Rasmus

Reprinted from Outside Magazine article published Jan. 11, 2022

Marshall Sella started as an intern at Outside in Chicago in 1988, and he went on to a successful career as a magazine writer in New York. His friends and former colleagues will remember him as much for his infectious humor and generous spirit. Here, his editor recalls the impact a young man had on a magazine still finding its voice.

Late one afternoon in the Chicago offices of Outside, I detected some consternation from down the hall, a glitch in the matrix. It was June 1990, and the new issue had just arrived. Marshall Sella, one of our junior editors, came to the door, clearly the designated bearer of bad news. None of the senior editors were going to take responsibility for this one.

“J.R.,” he said, “I’ve got something unfortunate to tell you.” In one of our recent travel packages, he reminded me, we’d published a photo of Earth taken from space, and somehow it had been reversed, making the enormous island nation of Madagascar appear to be off the west coast of Africa—which, of course, it is not. Embarrassing enough.

We’d printed a clever but tortured correction, but now, two months later, someone had noticed that we—i.e., Marshall—had apologized for “showing Madagascar to the east of Africa,” which is where, in fact, Madagascar is. So, we’d botched the photo, then botched the correction, and now we’d have to own up to that, too. In my mind, that would be three tainted issues we couldn’t submit for the National Magazine Awards, at least not for, you know, General Excellence. A steep price for “clever.”

Marshall gamely attempted to explain the unforced error. It had something to do with confusing the east coast of Africa and the west coast of Madagascar, I don’t remember the details, but I do recall his fascinating combination of candor, self-pity, remorse, growing acceptance, and … suddenly, redemption. His face brightened.

“Or maybe,” he offered, “we didn’t really get it wrong. Madagascar is to the east of Africa! Maybe we don’t need to apologize for the apology we didn’t need to make!” This, at least, was the kernel of a reason not to do anything, which I liked. But now he was thinking bigger—about how he could turn this insight into an even more clever meta correction. “Let me see what I can do,” he said, and scooted back to his office.

Marshall Sella, who died unexpectedly in December at 60, still so young, was as responsible as anyone for shaping the Chicago-era vibe of Outside. Founder Lorenzo Burke was the fearless captain of our ship. Brash storytellers like Tim Cahill, writer-adventurers like David Roberts, literary hotshots like David Quammen and his Montana neighbor E. Jean Carroll—they set the bar early and high. But the supporting cast, the editorial crew—younger, less experienced, and, as it turned out, extremely talented—helped shape Outside’s personality and its voice, and nobody more than Marshall. That voice was warm but sly, smart, and never cliquish. If there was a joke involved (and there usually was), you, the reader, were in on it.

Marshall joined us in 1988 as a grad school intern from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, making an impression in his Eastern European military coat and English walking boots. But he was also the midwestern kid from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, who’d had the lead part in a Milwaukee Players production of Sherlock Holmes. (Maybe that’s where he got those walking boots.) He’d even sung a bit. In any case, he came ready to entertain, in print and around the office.

In those days all the editors, myself included, were works in progress, feeling a bit disconnected from the great outdoor world we covered from our urban outpost at Clark and Division. We had high aspirations for the magazine, we didn’t always meet them, and office life could get a little stressful. I shamefully cop to the label of being “demanding,” at times perhaps borderline insufferable. In any case, we needed all the fake-it-till-you-make-it energy and bravado we could muster, which Marshall supplied, every day, with his warm smirk, his sophisticated, Spy-influenced style, and his near hourly outbursts of laughter that I could hear from my desk.

After graduating, he came on full time and started editing product and travel packages and sidebars, cooking up quizzes, and writing house copy. You could discern his hand in everything from the table of contents to the back page Parting Shot. He worked his captions and short intros to insane, often hilarious precision. It’s easy to see how, by the tenth draft of that Madagascar correction, he’d have utterly confused himself.

Marshall’s office banter was so sharp and came so fast that “he raised everybody’s game just trying to keep up with him,” remembers his fellow intern and future author Dan Coyle. “He had an ability to make other people their funniest, happiest selves.”

A few days ago, more than a dozen of his colleagues got together on a Google call to remember Marshall, and I learned a few new things. He gave fellow editors nicknames like Cashew Head and performed droll impressions of our managing editor, Mark Bryant, and the actor James Mason—if Mason were a slowly sizzling piece of bacon. He claimed that Robert De Niro, with every movie he appeared in, always had a scene where he stomped on someone’s head. He would imitate that, too, with gusto. On the other hand, Marshall’s was the office you went to when you needed to have a little cry.

When Rob Story, a prominent ski writer and another intern from the early days, got married in Telluride, Colorado, Marshall was one of his groomsmen. Dressed in his tuxedo on the big day, and sensing the absurdity of his attire in the Old West mining town, Rob remembers, Marshall went up to the hotel clerk and asked, “Could you tell me if there’s a nice clean hiking trail nearby?”

He was the brother—younger, older, it didn’t matter—we were drawn to and, honestly, adored. By definition, then, we were kind of a family, and he was the star.

“I think everyone had a crush on him,” his friend and colleague Laura Hohnhold said. “All of us.”

Marshall left Outside in 1991 to be a full-time freelancer, then moved to New York in 1993. He slowly became a gravitational force again, writing for New York, GQ, Premiere, Elle, The New York Times Magazine. His friend Will Dana, the former editor of Rolling Stone, recalls him attracting crowds of both sexes at downtown writers’ parties. The staff at Outside, which moved to Santa Fe in 1994, were thrilled when he covered the national cheerleading championships for the first issue of Women Outside.

Marshall’s superpower, everyone seems to agree, was his ability to fiercely connect with and observe people, capture their quirks and tells, and shape those insights into powerful stories, even with only scraps to work with. His moving Times Magazine article “Missing,” published just weeks after 9/11, told the stories of victims through the flyers their loved ones posted all over the city. He profiled Sister Wendy, a British nun and art historian turned wildly popular PBS star, and was one of the very first to capture the populist essence and power of a new media outlet called Fox News. Its boss, the notorious Roger Ailes, was “a pugnacious and jokey man,” Marshall wrote. “His pale blue eyes regard you suspiciously until you’ve spent a lot of time together, and half-suspiciously after that.”

Mark Adams, an old friend and author himself, admired Marshall’s ability to drop himself into stories—subtly and unobtrusively, but to important effect. Not only was he connecting and explaining his subject, but he turned and connected to you, revealing himself along the way. Adams points to Marshall’s 2013 story for GQ about the disgraced New York pol Anthony Weiner.

“Writing a true profile is a genuinely weird endeavor,” Marshall confesses in the middle of that piece. “It’s like being in love without the love: You want to know every little thing about the subject. You will follow them anywhere, always wondering what they’re thinking or why they move their hands like that. You think about them when they are not around. During the reporting phase, if you’re any good at what you do, you’re a little bit insane. But you get time to cool off later: take the real measure, look at the experience from a distance.”

That superpower, like superpowers do, also cost him. His older sister, Claire Meyer, remembers watching a post-9/11 episode of Ric Burns’s PBS series on New York City, which included a brief clip of Marshall reporting “Missing.” “He’s holding one of those flyers, looking at the photo of a victim,” she says, “absorbing the loss not only of an individual, but in its totality.” She remembers watching her brother put his hands to his face, stricken.

By the early 2000s, Marshall had more magazine work than he could handle. According to Dana, “Every editor he worked with wanted to work with him again.” Each piece needed to be perfect and on time, and he expected his editors to get what he was trying to do. Later in his career, his friends say, he’d decide if he wanted to work with someone based on whether he thought they’d cut his jokes.

Marshall’s only thwarted ambition, Adams and others say, was to become a successful humorist, a Will Rogers type or a comedy writer for Letterman. That combination of high-wire wit and a big stage would have been worthy of his talents. He had to settle for being one of the best magazine writers of his generation.

Finally, he was also a great and thoughtful friend. Adams, an early riser, would get morning texts from night-owl Marshall wrapping up his workday at 5 a.m. Long before Facebook, Adams remembers, “Marshall would find out your birthday and call or send you an email every year.” He was close to his family back in Milwaukee—“he was the coolest uncle in the world, my role model,” his nephew, John Mörk, told me—and kept in touch with his Outside family. We all got one of those birthday greetings every year.

One of the nice things about being around for the early days of a magazine, or any organization, is that you have a chance to set a tone, a sensibility. If it works, it can carry on, like a regional accent, for generations. Reading Outside today, I hear Marshall’s voice still coming through from a group of smart, young, ambitious editors and writers who were likely toddlers when Marshall was crafting that sound, testing it, taking it to the next level.

Not long before he left Outside and Chicago, Marshall wrote what turned out to be a fitting send-off, for the magazine’s 15th anniversary issue. Titled “Atlas Shrugged,” the short piece captured our early days perfectly: self-aware, not afraid to fail, ready to delight.

“Magazine editing, like faith and seismic shifts, can move mountains,” he wrote. “And over the years, Outside has moved a few of them—not to mention the odd rainforest, country, and ocean.” His piece recounted the magazine’s most boneheaded location muffs and, in a final meta touch, named his Madagascar double doink “Outside’s most ambitious gaffe of all time.”

“No one is fired for the incident,” he wrote about that day in my office, “though the man responsible for the ‘correction’ is later forced to write an article about geographic errors for Outside’s 15th anniversary issue.”

Well done, Marshall.

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Todd Happer (BSJ88)

Tribute and photo courtesy of ASTC. 

Todd Happer, Senior Manager of Member Engagement at the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC), passed away on Wednesday, September 1, 2021, from complications of cancer. The ASTC Board of Directors and staff share our condolences with the many members of our community who treasured Todd as a trusted colleague and true friend.

Todd began his career at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago directly following his graduation from Northwestern University in 1988. In subsequent years, Todd led marketing and communications for several institutions, including Science Central, the Orlando Science Center, and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Todd continued to serve the museum and science center community as Associate Publisher of Scientific American Explorations, and he worked for more than a decade as Vice President, Science Education and Museums Editor at Natural History magazine.

Early in his career, Todd served as the Assistant Editor for Dimensions magazine and other ASTC publications. Todd returned to ASTC in 2016 where he most recently led ASTC’s member engagement efforts. In fact, there seemed nothing he enjoyed more than connecting with colleagues from the global science center community.

Throughout his career, Todd made major contributions to the association, including serving for many years on the ASTC Conference Program Planning Committee, helping to shape one of the premier professional development opportunities for our field. Todd’s support of ASTC members has been especially impactful during the COVID-19 pandemic as he has led multiple efforts to ensure that ASTC members have the connections and resources they need to navigate this crisis.

Todd built an encyclopedic knowledge of science centers, science museums, and informal learning institutions, which he used to facilitate connections between members, help share effective approaches, and increase the public’s understanding of the work and impact of these institutions. Todd’s work helped hundreds of institutions around the world to learn about innovative new strategies, develop their staff capacity, and scale their impact on the communities they serve.

Perhaps most important is Todd’s impact on the countless individuals with whom he built relationships over the years. Todd truly “knew everyone,” and he was always seeking to understand each person’s unique perspectives and find ways to support their priorities and strengthen their work. Todd’s loss will be felt by so many, but his memory and his legacy will continue.

To honor that legacy, ASTC has established the Todd Happer Memorial Scholarship Fund which will help support participation in future ASTC Annual Conferences from those at small or remote science centers who would otherwise be unable to attend. Click here for more information about the fund and how to contribute.

Remembering Todd Happer

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Raymond C. Nelson

Raymond C. Nelson, 92, retired professor and associate dean at Medill, died May 30, 2021, in Seattle. Survivors include his wife, Carol; a son, David; and a daughter, Leslie Nelson Kellogg.

He wanted to be remembered simply as a reporter, writer and teacher, which summarizes the three legs of his career. But he was far more than that—a man with a wide variety of interests, a deep knowledge of his disciplines, and abiding affection for friends and colleagues. Despite being a city boy, he developed an avid interest in the outdoors: sailing, bicycling, camping and skiing. He was also a lifelong baseball fan. His mother’s family was from the St. Louis area and he managed to become a St. Louis Cardinals bat boy. As a South Sider, he was a White Sox fan. He also played a bit of semi-pro baseball but disliked the bus travel.

“I think the singular, most important thing to know about my dad was his curiosity about anything,” said his son. “He always wanted the details about something with constant questions, always probing to try and get to the heart of understanding the topic in question.”

Retired faculty member David Nelson (no relation) praised him as “an efficient, loyal and low-key administrator” who “provided the detail work behind many of Medill’s major mid-20th century projects, serving as its associate dean. He made sure that multimillion-dollar grant proposals to the Gannett and Ford foundations were in perfect order. They were. And Medill launched its Urban Journalism Center for mid-career journalists to study race and social inequities nearly a half-century ago. He also played a major role in overseeing the school’s first journalism residency program. An unassuming man, Prof. Nelson left his mark as an able administrator. We owe him a debt of thanks and wish his family solace at this time.”

Born in Chicago in 1928, Ray attended Tilden Tech, then enlisted in the Army and did occupation duty in Korea with the 31st Infantry Regiment. At the time of his discharge in San Francisco, the Army tried to get soldiers to re-enlist by offering promotions. “We knew a war was coming in Korea,” said Ray. “The signs were everywhere and we wanted nothing to do with it.”

Raymond Nelson in old Medill studio black and white.
Photo courtesy of Nelson family.

In 1952 he earned a journalism degree from the University of Missouri Columbia, working as a reporter until he went to Medill for a master’s in 1955, winning the Harrington Award for being an outstanding student in the Radio-TV sequence.

He caught on at KBUR in Burlington, Iowa. The story goes that Ray worked the 1956 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and came to the attention of NBC’s Sam Saran (Medill ‘5?), who helped bring him to Chicago and WMAQ as a reporter. One duty was a program called “Night Desk,” an early and innovative mobile-reporting effort. Using a broadcasting/recording setup in a panel truck, reporters did mobile stories throughout the city.

After a stint in public relations at the National Education Association in Washington, D.C., he rejoined Saran in 1963 in Northwestern’s public relations department at the time of the lakefront expansion. From there he moved to the Medill faculty in 1966, eventually serving as associate dean. “My dad was extremely proud of being associated with NU generally and Medill specifically,” his son said. “The Cherubs program was something he frequently spoke about as well as the Teaching Newspaper Program. From an immediate family perspective, my dad was proud that everyone in the family had earned a degree from NU.”

George Harmon, who was on the faculty when Ray was associate dean in the 1980s, remembers: “Ray was smart, cheerful and innovative. As associate dean he effectively mentored faculty members who joined Medill in the early 1980s. In later years he liked to experiment with new courses and with old courses that needed new wrinkles. When working downtown in news, he earned a reputation as a go-get-’em newsman who loved chasing stories.”

The Nelson family lived for years in Wilmette. After retiring in the 1990s, Ray and Carol moved to Seattle. Eventually they built a house in Port Townsend, where they enjoyed an active retirement.

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Judy Lyn Holland (MSJ87)

Judy Lyn Holland, 61, of Washington, D.C. passed away on April 19, 2021.

She was born Aug. 7, 1959, in Orange Heights, VT, the daughter of Harry and Barbara Holland of Hanover, NH and Vero Beach, FL. Judy was born in the family station wagon en route to the hospital, portending a life in constant motion. From a very young age, Judy adored books and kept a flashlight under the bed covers to read at night. She also displayed an early aptitude for performance and enlisted neighborhood children to put on shows in the family garage with a blanket as stage curtains. She later became an accomplished figure skater and continued to perform in college and as an adult.

She attended Hanover High School and graduated in 1977. Her first summer job was as a cashier at Dan & Whit’s General Store on the same block in Norwich, VT where she grew up. She continued her education at Middlebury College, where she graduated with a BA in 1981. From there, Judy taught English at a boarding school in Germany and studied Italian in Florence, becoming fluent in both languages. She worked as a paralegal in a New York City law firm before earning her master’s degree in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

During her 30-year journalism career, Judy was a newspaper reporter at the Valley News Dispatch in Tarentum, Pa. and the Tampa Tribune in Florida before moving to Washington, DC to become a Capitol Hill correspondent for States News Service. She spent 13 years covering the US Senate and as national bureau editor at Hearst Newspapers, the storied newspaper chain that includes the Houston and San Francisco Chronicles and the Boston Globe. She won the Hearst Eagle Award, the chain’s highest honor. Judy was elected president of the National Press Club Foundation and was a member of the Capitol Speakers Club. She also appeared as a political commentator on cable TV news. Her stories appeared in dozens of publications.

She also was the founder and editor of parentinsider.com, an online magazine about parenting teens and wrote the book and podcast series HappiNest: Finding Fulfillment When Your Kids Leave Home.

Judy met her husband John K. Starr, an orthopedic surgeon, in 1982, when he was a medical student. They were together for nearly 40 years, married since 1990. Her true pride and joy were her beloved children, whom she taught determination, poise and empathy.

Judy is survived by her husband John, children Lindsay, 27, Maddie, 24, and Jack, 22, her parents; sister Mary Anne Holland, brothers Michael (Heidi); Joe (Becky); and Jim (Analea); sister-in-law Patricia Starr; nieces Jeannie, Greta, Hazel, Lizzie and Juniper; nephews Michael, Timothy, Hunter, Jake and Anders; maternal uncle, Don Johnston (Mary Margaret) and paternal uncle, Clark Holland.

Published in Valley News on May 2, 2021.

https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/vnews/obituary.aspx?n=judy-lyn-holland&pid=198511455&fhid=2167

Categories
1980s Featured Legacies Legacies

Ed Filipowski (BSJ83)

Ed Filipowski, co-chairman and chief strategist for fashion public relations firm KCD, died at home on Jan. 10, 2020. He was 58.

Filipowski was raised in a small town in southwestern Pennsylvania, where his father was a steelworker. Realizing early on that he had a talent for writing, Filipowski started working for the local newspaper as well as the high school paper and radio station. “I was attracted to anything media-related, and I was driven to be a journalist,” he said in a story for the Medill magazine in 2014. He knew Medill was the best journalism school, so he borrowed money from his sister for the application fee. “I was fortunate to get in the door,” he said in the Medill article, adding that he received nearly a full scholarship.

Fashion, too, was always in the back of his mind. In Evanston, Filipowski immersed himself in campus life, joining Theta Chi fraternity, the activities and organizations board, and The Daily Northwestern, where he edited the first fashion supplement.

After graduation, he moved to New York City and shared an apartment with a friend he met at NU, Rachel Sparer. Another NU alum, Jack Taylor, hired him as an assistant account executive in the rapidly growing ad agency Jordan, Case, Taylor & McGrath. There, Filipowski developed a solid understanding of brand strategy and product storytelling in a short period of time.

He heard about KCD through a friend, and when the company landed a big client, he sent partner Kezia Keeble a bouquet with a congratulatory note. The flowers led to a meeting, which led to a job offer. Over the next few years, he gained an understanding of the inner workings of the fashion industry from Keeble, a former Vogue editor. He also learned about fashion criticism from the firm’s other partner, and NU alumnus John Duka (BSJ71), a former style reporter for The New York Times. KCD’s goal was to get fashion covered more seriously in the media beyond tabloid headlines.

In 1990, Filipowski, along with colleague Julie Mannion, informally inherited the firm, working alongside Cavaco following the deaths of Duka and Keeble in 1989 and 1990, respectively. In 1991, Filipowski and Mannion were named partners of the agency, and renamed the firm KCD to honor the founders.

KCD’s celebrated portfolio of clients over the years included names such as Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano at Maison Margiela, Versace, Givenchy, Tory Burch, Helmut Lang,  Anna Sui, Victoria Beckham, Balmain, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Brandon Maxwell,and Prabal Gurung.

“When I’m standing with Sarah Burton at McQueen, and she’s taking me through her thought process, I can’t believe my life. It’s a privilege,” Filipowksi said in his Medill magazine interview.  “I’m very personal and hands-on,” he added. “I tell everybody when they’re hired, ‘We will give back to you double what you give to us, because I want this to be a personally and professionally fulfilling experience for you.’”

He attributed his success at his agency to the knowledge and values he learned at Medill. “If you have good personal and professional values, and you work really hard, and if you’re good to people you work with and meet, it just happens,” he said.

Over the last several years, Filipowski visited Medill numerous times to talk with students about his career, and KCD hosted a Medill journalism residency (JR) student in 2018. He generously supported the Ed Filipowski Student Experience Fund for students on JR and he served as the co-chair of his 35th reunion committee.

Categories
1980s Featured Legacies Legacies

Neil Owen Strassman (MSJ87)

Neil Owen Strassman died Feb. 10, 2020. He was 70.

Tribute published in the Oklahoma City Star-Telegram:

“Neil was born in Los Angeles, Calif., in 1949 to Pauline ‘Paula’ Kassam (nee Millman), a schoolteacher, and Harvey Strassman, a psychiatrist. He grew up smack in the middle of the bubbly ’50s and ’60s Jewish community of West LA and Beverly Hills, surrounded by his grandparents (Max and Genia Millman, Moe and Rose Strassman), adored by his mother, spoiled by his aunt Adeline, and loved by his father. Maybe those experiences, combined with Neil’s brilliant mind and inherently social nature, helped impart Neil with a sense of belonging, of having a place in the world.

He was fierce and had firm opinions, yet he remained easygoing and likable. Maybe his personal magnetism simply has no tangible explanation. The fact is that, while many people collect art or stamps or beautiful rocks, Neil collected people. He had the deepest family connections and the most sincere friendships that anyone could hope for.

In the last few weeks of his life, a near-constant flow of family and friends from all over the country came to see Neil at his Oklahoma City home, a testimony to how much he was loved. Neil graduated from the University of California San Diego with a degree in English Literature, and completed his Master’s in Journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Throughout his life, no matter what he was doing, he identified himself first and foremost as a journalist, a profession to which he dedicated himself for several decades. He wrote for a school publication in college, worked for the Long Beach Press Telegram, and wrote for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He even ran a jazz and blues public radio show in Seattle under the hilarious name Nearly-Normal-Neil, with the additional humorous twist of sometimes substituting for himself (!!) under the name Backwater-Eddy.

Neil indeed had a nice sense of humor. There are not enough words to describe his powerful intellect, diverse interests, varied accomplishments, and pointed wit. He was sheer fun to be with! Neil was often found with his nose buried in philosophy texts, Chinese poetry, a horse racing form, the latest environment story, a fishing reel, a pair of skis, itinerary for annual trips to Vancouver Island and Campbell River to salmon fish with his son. A lifelong writer, a machinist or sport fishing boat deckhand in his younger years, chief of staff and office administrator for Tarrant County’s Judge Glen Whitley in his later years, Neil embodied a life focused on intellectual experiences, practical skills, and lifelong friendships. Neil loved his wife, Fatima, very much. And Fatima loved Neil deeply; still does, and always will. Together, they made a family.

Nobody meant more to Neil than his beloved son Joseph, who was the apple of Neil’s eye and the pride of his heart. Neil taught Joe to ski on the slopes, fish in the ocean, camp in the woods, and to dream and aspire to greatness. Neil adored his stepdaughter, Georgia, like a father, and he was so very proud of her. It gave Neil great joy to see Georgia and Max get married, with Joseph standing by their side. Neil was Paula’s only child. Paula was a spirited and intelligent woman who included Neil in everything she did. Neil was loved as a son by his sweet and accomplished stepfather, Abe Kassam, an accountant and businessman, who gave him a marvelous and devoted extended family. His father, Harvey, a brilliant and clear-minded man, imparted on Neil a pragmatic and no-nonsense outlook in life; he also gave Neil four siblings, Debra, David, Michael, and Judy, whom Neil loved very much.

Neil is survived by his wife, Fatima Abrantes-Pais; his son, Joseph Strassman; his stepdaughter and son-in-law, Georgia Shelton and Max Sabor; his siblings, Debra Cowan (Kevin), David Strassman, and Judy (Steve) York; aunt, Adeline Dean and her sons, Michael, Greg, and Bobby; cousins, Philip Aronoff and Salim Janmohammed among many others; his beloved cat, Ich; his love for the Pacific Ocean; and a ton of devoted relatives and friends whose names would cover an entire newspaper page. He was preceded in death by his father, Harvey Strassman; his mother, Pauline Kassam; his stepfather, Abe Kassam; his brother, Michael Strassman; and too many friends who died too soon.

https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dfw/obituary.aspx?n=neil-owen-strassman&pid=195426100&fhid=8487

Categories
1980s Legacies

Maureen Quaid (MSJ83)

Maureen Angela Quaid died Jan. 1, 2020, in Minneapolis due to complications from breast cancer.

Maureen was born in Chicago, March 12, 1956, to Francis “Duke” Quaid and Angela Quaid (Fazio). After attending high school in Illinois (River Forest, Oak Park, Evanston) and Wisconsin (Wauwatosa), Maureen received an honors B.A. in psychology from Arizona State Univ. (1978) and her masters from Medill.

Maureen worked for more than 25 years in the clean energy industry, devoted to protecting the future of our world through energy efficiency and renewable energy. She began her career as a researcher for the Minneapolis and Washington State Energy Offices, then helped build new clean energy programs in Oregon, New Jersey, Colorado and New Mexico. She returned to Minnesota in 2017 to consult and write.

She is survived by her daughter, Brett Quaid Ford; her two older brothers, Francis and Hubert; and three younger half-brothers, Shawn, Ted and O’Brien.
https://obits.oregonlive.com/obituaries/oregon/obituary.aspx?n=maureen-angela-quaid&pid=194986802