Ostrow-D’Haeseleer Remembered for Teaching French at Wesleyan for 29 Years

Catherine Rachel Ostrow-D’Haeseleer, adjunct instructor of French, died on Saturday, Nov. 23, at the age of 65.

Ostrow-D’Haeseleer was born in Kananga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In the fall of 1983, she was asked to take over a French course for a professor who had to take an unexpected leave. With only a high school education, she immediately demonstrated the professionalism, commitment, and excellence as a teacher that characterized her entire career. After stints as both a part-time and full-time visiting faculty member, Ostrow-D’Haeseleer was hired as an adjunct lecturer in 1991 and taught at Wesleyan for the next 29 years.

Ostrow-D’Haeseleer served multiple years as head of the French section and was the face of the French program for most students. She co-authored Prête-moi ta plume: A Student’s Guide to Writing French Papers and served as an advisor and contributor to the third edition of French in Action.

“Catherine was an extraordinary teacher,” said her colleague Stéphanie Ponsavady, associate professor of French. “It was always a pleasure and a reward to inherit the students she had taught. Catherine was a dedicated colleague and a generous mentor to the junior faculty. She held herself, her students, and us to the highest standards of integrity academically and personally.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Whaley, who worked with Ostrow-D’Haeseleer on the Student Judicial Board, wrote that he “will miss her love for our students, her steadfast dedication to them and to Wes, her joy in teaching, and her wonderful, wry humor.”

Andy Curran, professor of French and chair of Romance Languages and Literatures, remembered Catherine as “a superb and dedicated teacher; but she was also an incredibly generous spirit who gave of herself in a variety of situations, whether it was helping out a sick colleague or volunteering her time with local refugee families.”

A memorial event will be held on campus later in the year. Donations in her memory can be made to a GoFundMe campaign that has been established to foster the creative work of an artist/asylee from the DRC, which became dear to Ostrow-D’Haeseleer over the last years of her life.

Ostrow-D’Haeseleer is survived by her husband Kirk Bartholomew; her close friend and former husband Daniel Ostrow; her cousin Michel De Waha and his daughter Aurélie; her godchildren Gaeton Lillon and Mary Rider; and a large circle of loyal and caring friends.