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An association of Nigeria Peace Corps alumni and other friends of Nigeria who support the interests of the Nigerian people.

In Memorian

February 10, 2017 3:07 PM | Willard J (Jim) Clark Jr (Administrator)


Brent K. Ashabranner (Staff) 1961

     Brent Ashabranner of Williamsburg, VA passed away December 1, 2016 at age 95. He was born in Shawnee, OK in 1921. He will be remembered by friends and family as a warm man with a great sense of humor, who lived his adventurous life with courage and integrity.

     He and his wife, Martha White Ashabranner, who survives him, moved to Williamsburg in 1988. They married at 19 and celebrated their 76th wedding anniversary in August. Ashabranner served in the U.S. Navy as a Seabee in the Pacific during WWII. After graduating with a master’s in English, he taught at Ohio State University for several years. In 1955 he accepted a position in curriculum development in Ethiopia, leaving the U.S. with his wife and two young daughters for the next 30 years. He worked in Libya, started the first Peace Corps program in Nigeria in 1961, served as the Peace Corps director in India and then as the Deputy Director of the Peace Corps from 1967-1969. After working with the Ford Foundation for 10 years in the Philippines and Indonesia, he retired in 1985. In retirement he wrote over 30 books for junior readers on cross-cultural topics and won over 40 awards for his body of work. 

     Besides his wife, he is survived by daughters Melissa Ashabrannner (Jean-Keith Fagon) of Washington, D.C. and Jennifer Ashabranner of Alexandria, VA; grandchildren Damian Fagon-Karraker, Giancarlo Fagon, and Olivia-Jene Fagon; and a great-grandson, Neo Lucas Fagon.

     [Source: Virginia Gazette, December 3, 2016]

Janice K. Phillips Bianchi (18) 66-67

     Jan Bianchi died in the early morning of August 20, 2016 at the age of 72. Jan was surrounded by love and laughter throughout her illness and was fortunate to have enthusiastic care and support from her families of origin and choice.

     Born in Wichita, KS to David and Bettie Phillips, Jan was the youngest of three girls. She was preceded in death by her parents and sister, Tricia. The family moved to Seattle in 1955 and while international travel took her abroad for a few years, she loved the Northwest and particularly the Pacific Coast. Jan served in the Peace Corps in Imo, Eastern Nigeria. After graduating from law school, she lived in Sao Tome, a beautiful equatorial island in West Africa, and later in Portugal before returning to Seattle.

     A fighter for social justice and equal rights, Jan began her law career at Evergreen Legal Services and then had her own practice in Columbia City. She finished her law career at the Washington State Department of Revenue. In her free time she worked to ensure full access to legal abortion for women in Washington State, LGBTQ equality and advancing other progressive causes. In retirement she became a woodworker and built many beautiful pieces of furniture.

     Along with friends and family, Jan built an amazing cabin overlooking the ocean, which was her favorite place. Anyone lucky enough to have visited knows well the special nature of the cabin, and Jan’s expectation that a visitor would help cut trees, haul brush or relax in the hand-made wood-fired hot tub she built.

     Jan was preceded in death by the two loves of her life, Barry Bianchi and Sue Schubert. She is survived by her two grandsons, Barry and Wyatt, who she thought were utterly amazing, as well as her daughter, Rachel. Her sister, Judy, also survives her and was a blessing during her illness, which allowed the two to deepen their relationship.

     [Source: The Seattle Times, August 28, 2016]

Stephen C. Clapp (6) 62-64

     Stephen Clapp of Jeffersonton, VA died unexpectedly on December 1, 2016. A graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Journalism School, Steve Clapp was a writer and editor who covered food policy in Washington, D.C. for more than 40 years. His last book, Fixing the Food System, was scheduled for publication in November, 2016, just before his death. The book is available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/1Pyq9Mc.

     Prior to establishing himself in Washington, Steve served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Yola, Nigeria. His memoir of his Peace Corps experience, Africa Remembered: Adventures in Post-Colonial Nigeria and Beyond, went on sale in the Smithsonian Museum of African Art and other outlets.

      Moving to Washington in 1966, Clapp joined the Office of Inspection in the ill-fated U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity. For three exciting years, he and his colleagues investigated and evaluated antipoverty programs in the Midwest and South. Professionally speaking, Clapp moved from poverty into hunger and malnutrition; the common theme being food. From 1971 to 1983, he edited Nutrition Week, the newsletter of the Community Nutrition Institute. He then served as communications coordinator at Interfaith Action for Economic Justice, an antipoverty lobby funded by religious denominations and agencies.

     During this period, he got caught up in the long-distance running movement. He ran his first marathon in 1974 and began writing about the sport for the Washington Post and various magazines. In 1978 he was asked to edit Footnotes, a quarterly tabloid published by the Road Runners Club of America that reached more than 100,000 running club members across the nation. He held that semi-volunteer post for a dozen years.

     After leaving Interfaith Action, Clapp became a freelance journalist specializing in food and nutrition policy. In 1993 he moved to Brussels to serve as European editor of World Food Chemical News, a newsletter covering international food regulation. Soon after his return to Washington, he was hired to edit that publication, which was subsequently merged with the flagship newsmagazine Food Chemical News.

     Before retiring in 2013, Clapp served as senior editor of Food Chemical News and managing editor of the monthly Food Traceability Report, and later became a part-time contributing editor. He wrote articles on a variety of topics for the Washington Post and the Washingtonian magazine.

     At the time of his death he was the vice president of Friends of Nigeria and secretary of the Peace Corps Alumni Foundation, which provides scholarships for secondary schoolgirls in northern Nigeria and for students at the American University of Nigeria.

     Steve Clapp is survived by his wife, Bette Hilerman, also a retired journalist, five children and nine grandchildren.

     [Source: Provided by Stephen Clapp’s family]

Robert D. (Bob) Cohen (4) 62-64

     Robert Cohen of Bethlehem, PA died suddenly at the age of 78 at home on December 6, 2016. He was born in Springfield, OH on November 19, 1938 to Beatrice (Lopper) and Arthur R. Cohen, M.D. both deceased.

     He lived his life fully with an abundance of energy and a great capacity for service to others while also attending to his own needs for creativity and self-expression. 

     Bob graduated from Cornell University in 1960. He also received an M.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and an Ed.D. in student personnel from Teachers College, Columbia University.

     He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nigeria teaching English literature in Ibadan from 1962 to 1964. He returned to the Peace Corps as an administrator in Liberia from 1965 to 1967. Later in life Bob served as a member of the board of directors of Friends of Nigeria.

     Cohen came to Bethlehem to be the associate dean of students at Lehigh University in 1979 following his work at Hunter College in New York City as the foreign student advisor and acting dean of students. Retiring in 2010, he followed three passions: music, singing, and acting.

      Bob was a board member and president of the Bethlehem Rotary Club, serving three years. He was on the board of Bethlehem Public Library and an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Lehigh Valley.

      Bob is survived by his wife of 42 years, Amy Miller Cohen, his children, Samuel A. Cohen (Liliana) of East Brunswick, NJ, Anna C. Cohen of Bethlehem, his grandchildren, Madalynn E. Cohen and Christopher A. Cohen, his brother Bill Cohen (Randi) of Columbus, OH, his sister, Marian Weiss (Bruce) of Woodstock, IL, his nieces, Emily W. O’Conner (Rich) of Northbrook, IL and Hannah B. Cohen, and his twin grandnieces, Abigail and Isabella O’Conner.

      [Source: The Morning Call, Bethlehem, PA, December 10, 2016]

Philip Dacey (7) 63-65

     Philip Dacey died peacefully at home in Minneapolis, MN at the age of 77 on July 7, 2016. He was born in St. Louis, MO. 

     Dacey taught poetry for 34 years at Southwest Minnesota State University and published 13 books of poetry. Philip was educated at St. Louis University, Stanford University and the University of Iowa. He taught in the Peace Corps in Ikot Ekpene, Nigeria and later at Miles College in Birmingham, AL along with his then-wife, Florence Chard Dacey. In 1970 he accepted a professorship at Southwest Minnesota State. Philip directed the creative writing program and founded an annual international literary festival. After retiring in 2004, he lived for eight years in Manhattan before returning to Minnesota to live on Lake Calhoun with his long-time partner Alixa Doom. 

     Philip is survived by his three children, Emmett, Austin and Fay, and Fay’s daughters, Sorcha and Ingrid. He was comforted in his final months by his partner, Alixa, and by contact with scores of friends and former students.

     [Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 16, 2016]

Calvin Oliver Graham (11) 64-66

     Calvin Graham was born March 12, 1940 in Hominy, OK to Lester James and Chrissie Beryl (LeMaster) Graham. Calvin passed away on May 31, 2016 at the Cleveland Manor Nursing Home in Cleveland, OK. Calvin will always be remembered for his abundance of musical talent, his razor-sharp wit, his winning smile, and his persuasive personality.

     Graham went to Oklahoma State University where he majored in English. After receiving his B.A., he continued post-graduate studies at OSU and worked as a graduate assistant in the English department. After earning his M.A. he served in the Peace Corps teaching English at Ihiala in Eastern Nigeria. Calvin cherished his time spent in the Peace Corps and spoke of it often. He attended a 50th reunion of his training group in California in 2015 and enjoyed it immensely.

     Upon his return to the United States, Calvin worked in Texas briefly before embarking on his next adventure in New York City, where he remained for over 40 years. He first worked as a technical writer at Panasonic for 15 years. He spent four years in San Diego, CA as a textbook publisher at Coronado Publishing. Moving back to New York, Calvin became a transcriptionist at the United Nations for a few years. He then worked at Merrill Lynch as a word processor until his medical retirement. He remained in New York for another two years before returning to Oklahoma where he lived at the Baptist Village and finally at the Cleveland Manor nursing Home.

     Calvin was preceded in death by his father, Lester, and his mother, Beryl. He is survived by his sister, Chrissie Childers, and her husband, Dick, brother Marion Graham and wife Linda, one niece, Kelly Childers Friedburg and husband, Ron, three nephews, Richard Childres and wife Kristy, Tom Graham and wife Kim, and Jon Graham and his friend, Amy Dobbins. He was also great-uncle to Madison, Mallory, Bryan and Bailey Childers, as well as Devon, Wyatt and Madilyn Graham.

     [Source: Poteet Funeral Home]

Arlene Fay Marans (7) 63-65

     Arlene Fay Marans died peacefully on August 2, 2016 at the age of 80. She was born on July 17, 1936 in Frank, PA to the late Joseph Tokar and Edith (Crosser) Tokar.

     Marans graduated from McKeesport High School near Pittsburgh, PA and worked for 5 years as a bookkeeper for an electrical company. Following that job, she earned a degree in Education at Malone College, Ohio. She taught a few years in Pennsylvania before joining the Peace Corps, serving 2 years in Aba, Nigeria. Returning to the U.S. she moved to New York City and attended NYU for her M.A. in Education. She started teaching at a Manhattan Junior High School where she made many friends. Arlene retired after 25 years. She enjoyed cooking, entertaining, and playing cards. She was an avid reader. While her husband continued teaching, she took courses in photography and art at a community college. In 1992 when her husband retired, they moved to Ormond Beach, FL. She enjoyed the beach and made many new friendships. Best of all she enjoyed traveling to many countries and cruising. 

     Arlene leaves behind her husband, Ronald, of 43 years, her sister, Kathy Street, brother-in-law, George Street, brother Joel Tokar and his wife, Elaina Tokar, sister-in-law, Janeen Tokar, and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her brothers, Joseph and Kenneth Tokar.

     [Source: Dayton Beach News-Journal]

Alan M. Margolis (1) 61-63

     Alan Margolis died on February 17, 2016. He had a 50-plus year career in education for the City University of New York. He was in the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers to Nigeria in 1961 where he taught English for two years at Ile-Ife. Margolis wrote several books on Nigerian education and continued to support education for international students who wanted to study in the United States.

     He is survived by his wife, Susan Smith Margolis, of Forest Hills, NY; his daughter, Sarah (Margolis) Katz and son-in-law, Larry Katz of Ridgefield, CT; his son, Jason Margolis and daughter-in-law, Maria Wisler Margolis of Pittsburgh, PA; and five grandchildren.

     [Source: The Ridgefield (CT) Press]

John James ‘Jack’ McCaffrey (9) 63-65

     Jack McCaffrey, 85, passed away peacefully with his family at his side on July 5, 2016. He was the beloved husband of Parvin (Zafaradl) McCaffrey, with whom he shared 43 years of marriage. A son of the late John and the late Katherine (Garrigan) McCaffrey, he was born May 30, 1931 in New York City, NY, and at a young age moved with his family to Lowell, MA.

     McCaffrey served with the United States Air Force during the Korean War as a staff sergeant. Following his honorable discharge, he earned a B.S. in Education from Suffolk University and a master’s degree from Tufts University.

     From 1957 to 1962 he taught English at Suffolk University and Emerson College before joining the Peace Corps, where he taught English in Ijero-Ekiti, Nigeria from 1963 to 1966. Back in the United States, he taught at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell from 1966 until he retired in 2005. In retirement Jack tended his rose garden of over 55 individual rose bushes. He was a voracious reader and a talented chef. He collected sea shells, mostly from his winter residence on Sanibel Island, FL.

     In addition to his wife, Parvin, he is survived by his son, Thomas Jefferson McCaffrey and his wife, Chrystal-Leigh, of Merrimack, NH; his brother, Robert P. McCaffrey of Hudson, NH; his sister, Barbara Breakey of Wilmington; and several nieces and nephews. He was also a brother of the late Gerald McCaffrey.

     [Source: Lowell (MA), Sun, July 7, 2016]

Frederick James Morgan, Jr. (11) 64-66

     Frederick Morgan died peacefully at his home in Lee, NH on September 12, 2016 at the age of 77. He was born in Franklin, NH September 2, 1939 and raised in Bristol, NH.

     Morgan received a bachelor’s degree from Keene State College in 1961. He taught in the public schools in Newport, NH from 1961 to 1963. From 1964 to 1966 he served in the Peace Corps in Agbede, Nigeria. In 1970 he began his career with New Hampshire Employment Security and later retired as a labor market analyst in 1994.

     He leaves his son, Scott James Morgan, and his wife, Amy, along with his two beloved grandchildren, Allie Hudson and Zach Hudson, and his favorite fur baby, Ryder Lee.

     [Source: Cremation Society of New Hampshire]

John J. Mugavero, Jr. (22) 66-68

     John Mugavero, 71, passed away peacefully on October 23, 2015 at Merrimack Valley Hospice House in Haverhill, MA, with his loving family by his side. He was born in Lawrence, MA, son of the late John J. Sr. and Ida (Zinno) Mugavero. 

     John served in the Peace Corps in Nigeria from 1966 to 1968.

     Mugavero taught math at Wakefield High School for 33 years and also coached track. After retiring, he worked as a substitute teacher at Methuen High School for 10 years. He was a driver’s education instructor for many years at North Andover driving school and for All Safe driving school. John was very active at St. Lucy’s Parish where he served as a lector, confirmation teacher, Eucharistic minister, RCIA teacher and also assisted at funerals as a server. John was a loving husband and father and cherished every minute he had watching his children grow up. He assisted coaching Joseph during his years of sports. He was an avid Boston sports fan and enjoyed attending games with Joseph over the years.

     He is survived by his loving wife, Marilyn A. (Conte) Mugavero of Methuen; his son, Joseph A. Mugavero of Methuen; and his daughter, Elizabeth C. Mugavero of Willimantic, CT. He also leaves his sister, Mary Ester Cordaro and her husband, Joseph of Nashua, NH; and his brother, Joseph Mugavero, and his wife, Angelia of Dallas, TX; and several nieces and nephews. 

     [Source: Eagle Tribune (MA)]

Terry D. Sadler (22) 66-68

     Terry Sadler unexpectedly passed away March 2015 in his favorite chair. He was 71 years old. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah into a family of fourteen children, he had wonderful memories of growing up with so many brothers and sisters.

     Terry studied zoology and received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Utah in 1966. It was his goal to join the Peace Corps. He did his training in Boston that summer and went to Bukuru, Nigeria to teach biology and chemistry in an all-boys government secondary school in Kuru, near Jos. He loved his experience and took every opportunity to meet the villagers and play basketball with his boys. He was there during the Biafran uprising and never forgot the horror of the massacre.

     Two days after he came home in 1968 he started teaching biology in an all-girls private high school. Also awaiting him was a draft notice and his girlfriend! He wasn’t drafted! Pam and Terry were happily married in April of 1969.

     Sadler settled into a 30 year career in the field of environmental health. He received his Master’s Degree in Public Health and retired as the director of Salt Lake City/County Environmental Health Department. He initiated the Non-Smoking Act in Utah, the Clean Air initiative, car emissions testing, and helped get many laws passed to ensure the health of the citizens of Salt Lake County. He was very well respected, received many awards, and had many lifelong friends. 

     In his private life, Terry was the caring father of two daughters and a son. He raised them with open minds, a thirst for learning, and the desire to serve others. Each one thinks they were his very favorite! He was the “Papa” to 8 grand kids. He enjoyed doing projects or taking adventures with all of them – even the babies. Every week he would come up with a new idea and somewhere to go with them. They miss him.

     Pam and Terry went on many wonderful trips together, combing the beautiful world that Utah offers naturalists. They stayed for weeks in their small trailer birding in Arizona, Death Valley and surrounding areas, and Big Bend in Texas. Spending the Fall season in Yellowstone photographing the wild life and hiking was almost a yearly experience. His photographs of three grizzlies in Glacier Park was printed and written about in the Salt Lake Tribune. Terry and Pam slept in hammocks in the jungles of Guyana, spent nights in a yurt in Mongolia on their Siberian Railroad trip, visited the locks of Panama Canal while birding in the jungles there, and so enjoyed the beauty of the quiet backways of Gifu Prefecture in Japan while visiting their daughter. 

     Terry had a happy, full life. He would always say, “We have to do it now as our windows are closing.” He would invite you to do the same.

     [Source: Special to Friends of Nigeria by Terry’s wife, Pam Sadler]

David S. Seeley (Staff) 61-62

     David Seeley died November 20, 2016 at the age of 85 in Staten Island University Hospital. Born in New York City, he grew up in Stamford, CT. He earned bachelor’s and law degrees from Yale University and a doctorate in education from Harvard University.

     David spent a year (1961) in Ibadan, Nigeria as a Peace Corps staff member with Harvard’s teacher training program. He was accompanied by his wife, Anna Mae, and their three children.

     Dr. Seeley described himself as an accidental educator. Originally a lawyer at the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare under President Dwight Eisenhower from 1956 to 1959, he was appointed assistant U.S. education commissioner under President Lynden Johnson, and he participated in the effort to desegregate schools following the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “I wanted to be a soldier in the desegregation battle,” he said.

     He also yearned to mobilize society on behalf of children. “Everyone shares the responsibility, even if you don’t have kids. Every child in your community, that’s your future, and you really should treasure that child and try to help her or him be as successful as possible,” he said.

     Dr. Seeley worked with the U.S. Office of Education from 1963 until 1967, when he became director of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Education Liaison under John Lindsay. A year later he switched to addressing education issues outside government, as a senior staff associate at the Metropolitan Applied Research Center under Dr. Kenneth B. Clark, the noted national civil rights leader, psychologist and educator.

     David began his notable College of Staten Island career in 1980, and became a full professor in 1986. From 1985 to 2000, he was coordinator of the Educational Leadership Program, which he helped revise and transform. He was named professor emeritus and retired in 2003, but his efforts to further education, particularly in Island schools, never wavered. Dr. Ruth Silverberg of CSI’s Education Department said, “His legacy will continue in our work to foster schooling that educates all students at the highest levels and prepares them for meaningful participation in the lives of their communities.”

     Dr. Seeley had many interests, but he especially loved sailing and had crossed the Atlantic as a crew member in his younger years. Music was another passion, and he was a stalwart member of the Richmond Choral Society, singing in many concerts until last year.

     Assemblyman Matt Titone (D-North Shore) said, “He was a moral compass, and his life touched and influenced many, many people in a positive way.”

     Nathaniel Seeley, David’s son, said, “My father viewed happiness and hope as choices. He chose them for himself and urged us and others to do the same.”

     Mae, his wife of 52 years, died in 2008. Surviving, along with his son, Nat, and his daughter, Anne, are his daughters, Sarah Mitchell, Mary Seeley and Louise Seeley, and six grandchildren.

     [Source: Staten Island Live]

Nicholas Wicker Thiemann (12) 64-66

     Nicholas Thiemann died at home on October 27, 2016 in Westport, CT. He was 76.

     Nick grew up in Greenwich, son of the late Aloys and Elizabeth Thiemann. He spent many years active in Westport life, including serving as a member of the Board of Finance and the Flood and Erosion Control Board. He also ran for First Selectman on the Democratic ticket in 1993 and served as a Selectman from 1993-1997.

     Thiemann left Greenwich to attend college at the University of Connecticut and law school at the University of Virginia. After graduating from UVA, he spent two years in Eastern Nigeria with the Peace Corps as a rural development officer in Nkwerre and Umuogbo near Orlu.

     Upon returning to Connecticut, nick joined the law firm of Senie, Stock and LaChance, moving to Westport in 1967. Soon after, he branched out on his own and kept a law practice in Westport until his death. He also served in a number of official capacities for the State of Connecticut as a member of the Commission on Human Rights and Disabilities and as a magistrate in the court system, hearing cases in Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford.

      Outside of work, Nick was an avid golfer, spending many wonderful afternoons at Longshore with his family. He was also a talented singer and musician, performing for the last 25 years with the Fairfield County Chorale and the Mendelssohn Choir of Connecticut. 

     He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Helen Clark Thiemann, of Westport, son Clark Thiemann (Jennifer) of Norwalk, and a granddaughter, Molly. He was predeceased by his sister, Susan Sommer.

     [Source: RPCV Catherine Onyemelukwe]

Friends of Nigeria is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. 
Email:  fonigeria@gmail.com President phone: 978-562-3613

Mailing address: Friends of Nigeria, c/o Warren Keller, PO Box 8032, Berkeley, CA 94707

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