Milestones June/July 2013

Austin—Deborah Austin, 93, on January 27, 2013, in Foxdale Village, State College, Pa. Deborah was born on January 18, 1920, in Boston, Mass., to Harriet and David S. Austin II. She showed an early interest in language and literature, and her sensitivity to words was unusual; as a child she burst into tears upon hearing the word “Hoboken.” Her father managed a ski resort in a remote area of New Hampshire. The family lived in the hotel during the ski season and in one of the cottages during the off-season, and a teacher came to the resort to teach Deborah, her sister, and the child of a local forest ranger. As a teenager she attended St. Mary’s in-the-Mountains school and Beaver Country Day School. She earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College in 1943, her master’s at Radcliffe in 1946, and her doctorate at Bryn Mawr in 1953. Before coming to Pennsylvania State University in 1955, she taught at Bryn Mawr and at Cortland State Teachers College. The first woman with a doctorate hired by the Penn State English department, she taught Romantic poetry and the Victorian novel and directed the honors program during the 1950s. The Paradise of the World, a collection of her poems, many first published in prominent periodicals, appeared in 1964. During the Vietnam War she took part in antiwar demonstrations on the Penn State campus. This activity led her to State College Meeting, which she and her sister Nancy joined in 1972. She served on the worship and ministry, peace and social action, and library committees. Deborah sometimes read her poetry to Friends and attenders of meeting and residents of Foxdale Village. As an adult Deborah continued to exhibit a sensitivity to the sounds of words; she once expressed regret at the change of all emergency numbers to 911, feeling that the local number had better expressed an emergency. It was, as she said plaintively, “Two three four. . . Oh, two three four.” Throughout her long career, she remained dedicated to the needs of her students and to her conviction that the study of great literature was important. Deborah was predeceased by her parents and her sister Nancy Austin, and she did not have any survivors. Memorial contributions may be made to the Givers of Care Fund, Foxdale Village, 500 E. Marylyn Ave., State College, Pa., 16801.

Ayoub—Raymond G. Ayoub, 90, on January 5, 2013, in Danville, Pa., with his family at his side. Ray was born on January 2, 1923, in Sherbrooke, Quebec, to Nazeera and George Ayoub, who had emigrated from Syria at the beginning of the century. He grew up in Montreal in a poor immigrant neighborhood, learning to speak Arabic, then French, and finally English. He graduated from high school as the top student in Quebec province, from McGill University with honors in mathematics, and from University of Illinois with a doctorate. He was brought up in the Greek Orthodox Church, but he left the church in his college years, influenced by Lloyd Williams, a Quaker who was the father of his future wife. He worked as a weather forecaster during World War II, and in 1950, he married Christine Williams. He spent two years at Harvard on a Benjamin Pierce instructorship, and in 1952, he and Christine joined Pennsylvania State University to teach math. He helped to develop a new graduate program in mathematics, wrote many papers about number theory, and supervised over 20 doctoral dissertations as well as a number of master’s theses. In 1959–60, with the aid of a grant from the American Math Society, he spent a year at Harvard writing a treatise on analytic number theory, which remains the definitive text on the subject. In addition to serving at times as acting head or head of the math department, he was a member of the University Senate for several years. He spent sabbaticals overseas at University of Frankfurt, Institut des Hautes Etudes in Burres sur Yvette, and University of Warwick. In the 1970s, Ray was voted the most valuable faculty member in the department. He served as governor of the Mathematical Association of America for two years and as associate secretary of the American Mathematical Society for seven years. In 1984, he retired from Penn State to teach at King Saud University, Bethlehem University (with a Fulbright grant), Morocco, Syria (again with a Fulbright grant), and Jordan. A member of State College Meeting, he served as clerk of the meeting, as co-treasurer, and as clerk of many committees. He published several papers on the history of Friends, and his stories from Quaker history and from the Bible enriched State College Meeting on many occasions. His gentle but mischievous humor made him a favorite companion. Ray took an early interest in opening doors for the disadvantaged, chairing several AMS diversity committees. One of the planners of Foxdale Village, he and Christine moved there in 1997. After he retired he wrote Musings of the Masters, a collection of quotations from eminent mathematicians about the philosophy of mathematics, translating the French, German, and Italian into English, and adding commentary for each mathematician. Friends and family recall his concern for everyone around him—just before his death he expressed worry that the nurses in the hospital were not being paid enough. Raymond is survived by his wife of 62 years, Christine Williams Ayoub; two daughters, Cynthia Harris (Dave) and Daphne Schreiber (Robert); four grandchildren, Benjamin Schreiber (Cara), Brian Schreiber, Christopher Harris, and Julia Harris; one great-grandson, Carmelo Harris. Donations in memory of Ray may be made to the Foxdale Employees’ Education Fund, 500 E. Marylyn Ave., State College Pa., 16801.

Hill—Janetta Ruth Messner Hill, 97, on February 12, 2013, at Carolina House, Elizabeth City, N.C. She had formerly lived in the Suffolk, Va., area. Janetta was born on October 15, 1915, in Liberty, Pa., to Florence Hyler and Arthur Messner, and grew up in north central Pennsylvania, where her German ancestors had settled. As a youngster and teenager she attended a Methodist church, having good experiences acting the part of Bible characters in church programs and lessons, but finding that sermons about the second coming frightened her. She found her spiritual home with Friends when she met her future husband Hershel Morton Hill at Cleveland Bible Institute (now Malone College). She served alongside Hershel as pastor for Friends meetings in Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia for more than 70 years, and she also attended Bethel (Va.) Meeting, Somerton Meeting in Suffolk, Va., and Up River Meeting in Belvidere, N.C. For a few years she was president of the North Carolina United Society of Friends Women. Janetta and Hershel counted fellowship as one of their spiritual disciplines, and after their retirement they did volunteer work visiting patients and their families at Obici Hospital and nursing homes in and near Suffolk. Kara Newell wrote about this ministry and Janetta’s philosophy of caregiving in Friends Journal in 2001. In that account, Janetta said, “The older I get, the less I know except the thing that really matters is loving.” Although she did not have any special training for this work, she became a trainer for volunteers who visit the sick and dying. Into their mid-80s, she and Hershel remained physically and spiritually active, keeping a large garden; doing all their own cooking, housework, and yard work; and caring for their spiritual family. Hershel died in 2010. Janetta is survived by one son, Robert Frederick Hill (Janie Stallings Hill); one daughter, Elsie Catharine Hill Pinkston (Lonnie); four grandsons, Anthony Hill, Jeffery Pinkston (Tammy), Randy Pinkston, and Craig Pinkston (Pat); one granddaughter, Dawn Hill Beasley; a brother, Frederick Messner; two sisters-in-law, Edith Bruner and Ruth Esther King; two great-grandchildren; several nieces and nephews; and a host of friends whose lives she had touched through the years. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Quaker minister’s retirement fund, Share the Blessing, NCYM Office, 4811 Hilltop Rd., Greensboro, NC 27407; the Up River Friends Meeting Building Fund, 523 Up River Rd., Belvidere, NC 27919; or the charity of your choice.

Kietzman—Martha Raymond Kietzman, 88, on January 6, 2013, in Philadelphia, Pa., in hospice care with her children at her side. Martha was born on March 13, 1924, in Arden, Del., to Sarah Ellen Griffith and Samuel Murdoch Outlaw. The third of five children, she grew up in Delaware County, Pa., eventually settling with her family in Swarthmore, Pa., as a teenager. During that time, the family name was changed from Outlaw to Raymond. When Martha’s older brother was a student at Swarthmore College, her family began attending Swarthmore Meeting, eventually becoming members, and Martha embraced Quakerism. She attended Coker College for two years, where she met her future husband, Jim Kietzman, whom she married while he was in the Navy in World War II. After the war, Jim became a convinced Friend. Martha was assistant to the clerk of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Young Friends for a year in the mid-1940s. Martha and Jim lived in the Friends Housing Co-Op in North Philadelphia, one of the first interracial sweat equity co-ops in the country, founded in 1952 by Quakers to create affordable urban housing for a diverse community. Martha provided support to Jim in his job running the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting weekend work camps with David Ritchie. Later in life she was a member of the Friends Social Order Committee.  The Kietzman house welcomed all, hosting simple meals highlighted by Martha’s famous homemade bread. The family later moved to an interracial community in Trevose, Pa., becoming members of Byberry Meeting in Philadelphia, and in 1960–62 they lived in Barnesville, Ohio, where Jim taught art and shop at Olney Friends School and Martha provided loving, spirited caregiving and outreach to friends, family, and community. The Kietzmans moved to Swarthmore in 1962, and Jim passed away when Martha was only 39. She went back to school and earned a degree as a Licensed Practical Nurse. Several years later she met Eugene Garfield of the Institute for Scientific Information, with whom she had a domestic partnership for 15 years. During their time together, Martha began taking in battered women. Later, in her early sixties, she established an adjunct women’s shelter in her home in Downingtown, Pa. After recovering from breast cancer, she began traveling to Florida and moved to Tarpon Springs, Fla., in her early seventies. In Florida, she attended Clearwater Meeting in Dunedin and was active in the local senior center. Martha loved to laugh and was a dancer extraordinaire. Those lucky enough to eat her homemade bread said she made the best they had ever tasted. True to Quaker testimonies, she loved humanity and related to everyone no matter what their station in life or ethnicity. She endured a 10-year struggle with dementia, living her last 4 years with her children in Philadelphia. She is survived by her five children, Karen Kietzman Kuranz, Amy Kietzman, Jim Kietzman, Sara Kietzman, and Cornelia Kietzman; nine grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.

Richter—Sheila Mills Richter, 79, on October 11, 2011, after a four-year struggle with lung cancer. Sheila was born on September 10, 1932, in Panama City, Panama, where her father was an American diplomat. She met Marcel Richter when they were freshmen at Swarthmore College, and they married after graduating in 1954. She later completed a master of arts in Teaching at Radcliffe College. The Richters moved to Minnesota in 1959 for Marcel’s work in the economics department at University of Minnesota and lived in St. Anthony Park and Falcon Heights. Martha’s 55-year teaching career spanned nursery school, junior high school, and high school. When her daughters attended St. Anthony Park Nursery School (now St. Anthony Park Co-op Preschool) in the early 1960s, she began working with the school, becoming the director and lead teacher in 1979 and continuing in these roles until retiring in 2000. She took pride in working with every student and parent to meet specific needs. Many families returned to Sheila for guidance and support for decades after their children left nursery school. As a parent at the school once said, “Politicians talk community, but Sheila lives it.”  Based on Sheila’s philosophy, the school continues to help children learn better ways to solve problems and resolve conflicts. Sheila shared her experience with children and her rich spiritual gifts as a member of Twin Cities Meeting in St. Paul, Minn., and in later years, Prospect Hill Meeting, also in St. Paul. Always ready to listen and encourage less experienced teachers and parents, she helped to adapt and develop the First-day school curriculum. Friends valued Sheila’s spoken ministry, and she took an active role in writing minutes guiding Friends in promoting gender equality in our practice. She also wrote regularly to legislators about this issue and others. Sheila worked to make the world a better place through teaching, gardening, community endeavors, and political activism. She served on the boards of the St. Anthony Park Block Nurse Program and the Park Bugle and briefly as a Falcon Heights city commissioner. She organized Prospect Hill Friends to support a community program housing homeless families and helped to organize St. Anthony Park Neighbors for Peace. Always kind and wise, Sheila’s activism was based not on anger but on her optimism that, like the children with whom she loved to work, all of us have within the potential for further growth. Sheila is survived by her husband, Marcel Richter; two daughters, Cynthia Richter (Martha Reis) and Leila Fiester (Reid Fiester); one granddaughter, Solea Fiester; one grandson, Carlos Reis-Richter; and two sisters, Linda Sipprelle and Mary Presby.

Stevens—Sarah Deck Stevens, 55, of Santa Fe, N.M., on December 20, 2012, of throat cancer. Sarah was born on September 6, 1957, in Charlottesville, Va. As a youngster, she took piano lessons, sang in the church choir and with Charlottesville’s Oratorio Society, and performed in high school musicals. She was often the leader and guide as the oldest of four siblings. She graduated with honors from Charlottesville High School in 1975 and attended Davidson College, where she helped to found the Davidson Women’s Chorus. After spending her junior year in Montpelier, France, she graduated from Davidson in 1979. She worked as a research assistant at University of Virginia and then taught mathematics at West Chester Friends School in Pennsylvania, completing a master’s degree in secondary math teaching at Widener University. Sarah was a member of Media (Pa.) Meeting. After moving to Santa Fe, she served for ten years on the faculty and administration of Santa Fe Waldorf School. Many students remember her as a favorite teacher, the one who unlocked a door to math they had not even imagined entering. She was also a devoted wife and mother, revolving around the pole stars of home and hearth. Cooking was a passion and a therapy for her. She showed her love for others by feeding them and by exchanging ideas about food. Among her greatest joys were cooking for her family while her daughter described the day’s events and washing up while her husband David read aloud after dinner. Sarah also wove music into her world as a means of self-expression and joy. She nurtured the love of music in others, attending Santa Fe Youth Symphony concerts at which Eleanor played cello and passing on her love of singing to her; many times in church after a hymn, someone in the pew in front of them would turn and say, “What beautiful voices you two have!” Sarah had a remarkable ability to know what was happening with her brothers and sister, even when they were far away, and they and their children delight in her memory and want to carry her loyalty, empathy, and beauty into their other relationships. The thoughts of those left behind are bittersweet: their hearths are stricken without her, but their hearts are made glad because of having known and loved her. Her family wishes her the peace she long sought, and their love goes with her, just as hers stays with them. Sarah leaves behind her husband, David Stevens; her daughter, Eleanor Stevens; her parents, Pauline Phelps Deck and J. David Deck; two brothers, J. David Deck Jr. and Stewart Deck; and one sister, Emily Deck Harrill. Donations in Sarah’s name may be made to the Santa Fe Waldorf School or to the Hospice Center of Presbyterian Medical Services.

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