Tag Archive for obit

Kostacopoulos Remembered for Being Wesleyan’s Winningest Coach

Peter “Kosty” Kostacopoulos

Peter “Kosty” Kostacopoulos

Peter “Kosty” Kostacopoulos, adjunct professor of physical education, emeritus, and former head baseball coach and assistant football coach, passed away on March 25 at the age of 86.

Kosty earned his BS from the University of Maine, where he lettered in football, basketball, and baseball, and made the All-Maine Conference in football and basketball. After coaching at Bowdoin for nine years, he arrived at Wesleyan in 1968. He served as head baseball coach for 28 years and assistant football coach for 19 years. He also served as a head squash coach during this time.

Kosty led the Cardinals to 11 Little Three titles. Twice named NCAA Coach of the Year, he won over 400 games and had 24 winning seasons in his time at Wesleyan. In 1994 Kosty led the team to the NCAA College World Series and was chosen as a coach for the Division III All-Star game at Fenway Park in Boston. “Coach Kosty had the ability to challenge his players and get them to perform at their best in the most important games,” recalled Mike Whalen, the Frank V. Sica Director of Athletics and chair, Physical Education. “For many, he was a great coach, mentor, and friend, and he will be missed.”

In addition to being Wesleyan’s winningest coach, Kosty was also known as an active recruiter. “From the honor of being recruited by him, to playing under his guidance, he gave us the transformational experience of our lives,” said Mark Woodworth ’94, head baseball coach. “Coach Kosty was larger than life and the embodiment of what a coach should be. His legacy lives on and is firmly embedded in the Wesleyan Baseball program, but is found even more in the hearts and minds of those of us fortunate enough to have been able to call him Coach.”

Known as a mentor and an enduring friend to his students, Kosty was inducted into the Wesleyan University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016. John Raba, Head Coach of Men’s Lacrosse, said: “Peter Kostacopoulos was one of the finest individuals to ever have coached at Wesleyan. His championship record, innovation, teaching, and influence in the lives and careers of players and coaches are unsurpassed. Peter will be deeply missed by many of us in the athletic community at Wesleyan.”

Kosty, who retired from Wesleyan in 2001, is survived by his wife Joann Hanson Kostacopoulos and his sons John Kostacopoulos, Peter Kostacopoulos, Jr., and Paul Kostacopoulos. The family is planning a celebration of Kosty’s life this summer, to be announced at a later time.

Wightman Remembered for Being a Dedicated and Charismatic Teacher

Ann Wightman, professor of history, emerita, died on March 11 at the age of 70.

Wightman was born in South Euclid, Ohio. She earned her BA from Duke University and her MPhil and PhD from Yale. First arriving at Wesleyan as a visiting instructor in 1979, she remained here for 36 years until her retirement in 2015. Wightman was an accomplished scholar with a focus on Latin America. She felt that she found a “second home” doing research in the Andes, and she sought to capture the history of that region in her first book, Indigenous Migration and Social Change: The Foresteros of Cuzco, 1570-1720 (Duke University Press, 1990), which received the Herbert E. Bolton Memorial Prize for “the best English language book on any aspect of Latin American history.”

She was a mentor to many faculty and students, and a popular teacher. “Ann Wightman was an extraordinary and effective University colleague,” said Nathanael Greene, professor of history. “As a scholar, she won praise and prize; her teaching was uncommonly demanding but absolutely inspirational, and she was among the early recipients of the Binswanger Prize.”

Robert “Bo” Conn, professor of Spanish, said: “For decades students flocked to Ann’s courses. Walking around campus at reunion time with ‘Wightman,’ as students affectionately knew and even called her, was like walking around with a legend. They all had memories and stories of a dedicated and charismatic teacher who made Latin America come alive in the classroom with her brilliant lectures on colonialism, state formation, and cultural resistance, and who helped them to develop as critical thinkers and people.”

Wightman had a lasting impact on Wesleyan. She was instrumental in founding Wesleyan’s Center for the Americas, which brought the Latin American Studies and American Studies programs together as part of a common enterprise with shared, team-taught introductory courses.

“Ann was one of my best friends, and as colleagues, we worked together on creating the Center for the Americas,” said Patricia Hill, professor of American studies, emerita. “Ann was not only an admired colleague and teacher but a dear and best friend to many. She was devoted to the people of Wesleyan.”

Wightman is survived by her husband, Mal Bochner. Memorial contributions may be made to the Ann Wightman Scholarship Fund, c/o Wesleyan University Advancement, 291 Main Street, Middletown, CT 06457, Attn: Jennifer Opalacz.

Coach Russell Remembered for Shepherding the Advancement of Title IX for Women’s Athletics

 

don russell

Donald Russell, professor of physical education, emeritus, and former director of athletics and head football coach, passed away on Feb. 2 at the age of 93.

Russell earned his BA from Bates College, where he played offensive and defensive tackle for the football team. Arriving at Wesleyan in 1960, he served as an assistant football coach under Norm Daniels, then became head football coach from 1964 through 1970, after which point he stepped down from that position, though he remained as the head of athletics until his retirement in 1991.

Russell led the Cardinals to three Little Three championships (’66, ’69, ’70) and to a stunning undefeated 8-0 record in 1969. All of this took place during tumultuous years on campus with demonstrations, bomb threats, and sit-ins. In fact, the year the football team was undefeated, Wesleyan had to get a restraining order to prevent a demonstration from interfering with the homecoming game with Williams.

“Throughout this difficult time, Don’s steadfast leadership and strong relationship with the players was instrumental in the team’s focus on football and accomplishing what no Wesleyan football team has done since,” said John Biddiscombe, adjunct professor of physical education, emeritus.

Crosby Remembered for Being a Brilliant Scholar-Teacher

Crosby

Christina Crosby (Photo by John Van Vlack)

Christina Crosby, professor of English, passed away Jan. 5 at the age of 67. She also was professor of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies.

Crosby arrived at Wesleyan in 1982 after receiving her AB from Swarthmore College and PhD from Brown University. She was a respected Victorianist, feminist, and theorist who was widely published, including two books, The Ends of History: Victorians and “The Woman Question” (Routledge, 1990) and A Body, Undone: Living on After Great Pain (NYU Press, 2016). She received Wesleyan’s Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 1994.

“Christina was a brilliant scholar-teacher,” recalled Natasha Korda, professor of English, “and an uncommonly generous colleague and mentor. Suddenly bereft of her presence, many of us are reeling, and at a loss for words, wishing that we could channel her eloquence to convey fully the contours of her extraordinary life and achievements. Our only solace is that Christina is now beyond the ‘great pain’ through which she lived on after her bicycling accident, and about which she wrote so beautifully in her recent book, A Body Undone. She was, as one colleague put it, the ‘heart and soul’ of the FGSS program over many years.”

Adjunct Associate Professor of Asian Languages and Literatures, Emerita, Sheng Dies at 95

Frances Sheng, adjunct associate professor of Asian languages and literatures, emerita, passed away on Jan. 3 at the age of 95.

Sheng completed her undergraduate degree at Fu Jen Catholic University in Beijing, and her MA at the University of Connecticut. In 1972 she arrived at Wesleyan, where she founded Wesleyan’s Chinese language program and inspired generations of students by teaching Chinese faithfully until her retirement in 1994. During her 22 years at Wesleyan, Sheng was involved in the establishment of the East Asian Studies program as well as study abroad in China, and she founded the Frances M. Sheng Prize, which is still awarded today for excellence in Chinese language and excellence in Japanese language.

“Frances’ students loved and admired her for being a demanding but caring teacher,” said longtime colleague and John E. Andrus Professor of History William Johnston. “Frances created a foundation for our program in Chinese language instruction, whose continued success is itself a tribute to her earlier efforts. CEAS and Wesleyan owe a debt of gratitude to Frances.”

Ellen Widmer, professor of Asian languages and literatures, emerita, remembers Sheng as being “full of dignity but also humor. She cared about people’s qualities as a person.” Widmer also noted that although Sheng ran a “tight ship,” her classes were also always full of laughter.

“How well I remember Frances’ kindness in my first years at Wesleyan,” said Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, Emerita, Vera Schwarcz. “Her great sense of humor. How she pushed her students to do their best. May her soul rest in peace.”

Sheng is survived by her sister, Rita Mao Hechler; her brother, Mao Yuan; her daughter, Diane Sheng; her niece, Lucille Sheng-French; and four grandchildren: Stacy Tarver Patterson, Andrew Herzer, Aaron Tarver, and Alexandra Herzer. If desired and in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the CAF/Suzanne Sheng Fund, a scholarship fund for Connecticut architectural students, c/o Connecticut Architecture Foundation, AIA Connecticut, 370 James St, Suite 402, New Haven, CT 06513.

Lock Shop’s Sean Higgins Remembered for Helping Keep Wes Safe

Sean Higgins

Sean Higgins worked at Wesleyan for 16 years.

Sean Higgins, Wesleyan’s Lock Shop foreman, passed away suddenly on Sept. 25. He was 60 years old.

Higgins worked for Wesleyan’s Physical Plant for 16 years maintaining the physical security of the campus where he insured the safety of students, faculty, and staff.

According to his obituary in The Middletown Press, Higgins “showed his love in the form of full-body hugs, homemade pasta sauce, big family breakfasts, and a shared Guinness, no matter the time of day. He loved to hate the New York Giants, indulged in bad action films, and never turned down helping someone in need. His quick wit and humor never failed to spark a giggle or a smile; his mischievous nature kept everyone on their toes, waiting for the next surprise. Sean’s protective demeanor, endless patience, and unquestioning support will leave a gaping hole in the lives of those who loved him most.”

Higgins found solace on the golf course and was very involved in the Wesleyan Open Golf Association, which annually raised funds for charity.

Friends may call at The Ahern Funeral Home, 111 Main St., Rt. 4, Unionville, Conn. on Wednesday, Sept. 30 from 4 to 8 p.m. Funeral procession from The Ahern Funeral Home will be Thursday, Oct. 1 at 9:45 a.m. followed by the Funeral Liturgy in the Church of St. Dominic, 1050 Flanders Road, Southington, at 10:30. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Southington Bread for Life, PO Box 925, Southington, CT 06489.To send online condolences to the family, visit www.ahernfuneralhome.com

Bendall Remembered for Teaching Philosophy 29 Years at Wesleyan

L. Kent Bendall, professor of philosophy, emeritus, died on May 15 at the age of 88.

Bendall received his BA from Rice University and his MA and PhD from Yale University. He arrived at Wesleyan in 1963, where he taught philosophy until his retirement in 1992. During his 29 years at Wesleyan, Bendall was an integral part of the University and the Philosophy Department. He served many terms as chair of the Education Policy Committee and of the Philosophy Department; he also served as chair of the University Senate and was a member of the planning committee for the new African American Institute in 1974.

He was a philosopher who was devoted to the ideal of truth and a rigorous search for it. Joe Rouse, Hedding Professor of Moral Science and Professor of Philosophy, recalled: “Kent Bendall was an excellent logician and philosopher, and a generous colleague and friend. Two considerations will always stand out in my recollection of Kent: his extraordinary clarity of thought and expression, and his utterly unquestionable personal and intellectual integrity.”

Shapiro Remembered for “Magnificent Translations,” Witticisms

Norman Shapiro, professor of french.

Norman Shapiro

Norman Shapiro, Distinguished Professor of Literary Translation and Poet in Residence, formerly professor of romance languages and literatures, died April 3 at the age of 89.

Shapiro arrived at Wesleyan in 1960 after receiving his BA and MA from Harvard University, completing a Fulbright Fellowship at Université d’Aix-Marseille in France, and returning to Harvard for his PhD. He stepped down from regular duties in 2017 but continued in his roles as Distinguished Professor of Literary Translation and Poet in Residence.

In addition to his classes in Romance languages and literatures, Shapiro also taught American Sign Language and served as the faculty advisor to DKE for almost 60 years. For their 50th reunion book, the class of 1965 named Shapiro as the faculty member who had the biggest impact on their post-Wesleyan lives. One former student was quoted as saying, “Those of us who had the privilege of knowing Norm as a counselor and mentor will remember his natural ability to guide us through our transition from childhood to adulthood. He ‘got us.’”

Wesleyan Student Jewell-Tyrcha ’22 Dies in Fatal Car Accident

Daniel "Danni" Jewell-Tyrcha

Daniel “Dani” Jewell-Tyrcha was a member of the Class of 2022. Jewell-Tyrcha died on Jan. 26 following a motor vehicle accident in Middletown. (Photo courtesy of wayup.com)

Daniel “Dani” Jewell-Tyrcha ’22 of Scituate, Mass., succumbed to injuries following a motor vehicle accident that occurred in Middletown on Jan. 25. Jewell-Tyrcha was 20 years old.

They were double majoring in American studies and African American studies.

In an all-campus email on Jan. 26, Wesleyan President Michael Roth and Vice President for Student Affairs Mike Whaley wrote: “It is with deep sadness that we write to inform you of the death of Wesleyan student Daniel Jewell-Tyrcha ’22. … We offer our condolences to Dani’s family, friends, and loved ones.”

According to Jewell-Tyrcha’s wayup profile, Jewell-Tyrcha’s interests were “creating progress and social change, traveling the world and learning about new cultures, helping end human rights abuses, and writing.”

Students struggling with this tragic event can contact the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), or a class dean. Faculty and staff who need support may contact the Employee Assistance Program at 800-854-1446.

“Wesleyan is a caring community. We are all here to help one another,” Roth wrote.

Expressions of condolence may be sent to Mike Whaley, who will collect and forward them to Jewell-Tyrcha’s family.

Former Virginia Governor Baliles ’63, Hon. ’88, Remembered

Gerald Baliles ’63, Hon. ’88, who had served as the 65th governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, died Oct. 29, 2019. He was 79.

A government major at Wesleyan, he earned his juris doctorate degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. After a stint in the Virginia attorney general’s office, he practiced law in Richmond, with a focus on energy and environmental issues. Elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1976, he became the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1981, and was, during his term, selected by his peers as Outstanding Attorney General of the United States.

Elected governor in 1985, he served in that capacity from 1986 through 1991. An obituary in the Richmond Times Post noted that as governor, “[h]e delivered on his promise to make transportation an economic building block, with new roads and improvements to the port and airports in Virginia. He saw education as the key to economic development, raising teachers’ salaries and fully funding school budgets. . . . His continuing leadership was recognized by the National Governors Association when he was elected as its chairman during his term.”

Professor of English, Emeritus Coley Dies at the Age of 96

William B. Coley, Professor of English, Emeritus, passed away on Jan. 7, at the age of 96.

Coley served in the US Army from 1942 through 1946, and then received his BA, MA, and PhD from Yale University. Arriving at Wesleyan in 1952, he taught English here for almost 40 years until he retired in 1991. Coley was a lifelong scholar, awarded fellowships by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies. He published numerous books and articles, including Hogarth on High Life (with A.S. Wensinger, Wesleyan University Press, 1970), and was the guiding force behind and the executive editor of the monumental edition of novelist Henry Fielding’s work published by Oxford University Press and Wesleyan University Press over several decades.

“Bill was a challenging, scrupulous instructor of small groups and thesis writers, and an invaluable developer of curriculum for the literary studies emergent at that time,” said colleague Richard Ohmann, Benjamin Waite Professor of the English Language, Emeritus. “He also worked to make Wesleyan a university in more than name. In particular, he was among the insurgents of the Junior Faculty Organization who drove the transformation of Wesleyan from a white, male, ‘Greek’-dominated campus into the more cosmopolitan and politically committed institution it became.”

Coley is survived by his wife, Emmy Coley; two daughters, Phyllis Coley and Katherine Coley; three stepdaughters, Soni Clubb, Mariann Clubb, and Elizabeth Clubb; his brother, Bradley Lancaster Coley; and nine grandnieces and grandnephews. The family will hold a celebration in the spring. (Please contact Sheryl Culotta for details if you are interested in attending.) Memorial contributions may be made to the Cancer Research Institute, 29 Broadway, NY 10006; or to the Sharon Audubon Society, 325 Cornwall Bridge Road, Sharon, CT 06069.

Shasha ’50, P’82, Founder of Human Concerns Seminar, Is Remembered

James Shasha, the businessman and benefactor who founded and endowed the Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns at Wesleyan, died Oct. 21. He was 91.

Born in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1929, he emigrated to the United States when he was 15 and later attended Wesleyan, graduating in 1950 with a major in economics. In 1955 he moved to Argentina, where he pursued his business interests in the wool and carpet industries, serving as the country’s delegate to the International Wool and Textile organization. Later, at 73, he decided to delve into the hotel business without previous experience in this industry. He acquired four hotels: three in Argentina and one in Uruguay.

Always interested in education and the qualities of citizenship, he told Hebrew University in Jerusalem, an institution with which he was also affiliated: “After World War II there was a lot of idealism about how to build a better world and that was what made me understand and incorporate what a citizen’s responsibility should be: take responsibility for the environment, be it the community, the country, or culture in which it participates.”

He developed the Shasha Seminars first at the Hebrew University and then imported them to Wesleyan.