Jonathan “Jackie” Brown, professor of biology, died July 25, 2019, at the age of 57, following a car accident. He’d been conducting research in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island.
After joining the biology department at Grinnell College in 1995, Jackie rose quickly to the rank of full professor. He regularly taught a First-Year Tutorial; Introduction to Biological Enquiry; Organisms, Evolution, and Ecology; Animal Behavior; History of Biological Thought; and Mechanisms of Evolution. Jackie wholeheartedly embraced the liberal arts. He loved not only biology, but also literature, theatre, art, and foreign languages. He played a pivotal role in transforming the biology department’s first-year teaching into a model where students learn to ask questions, develop answers, and then communicate those answers in the way that biologists do. His deep belief in the active nature of practicing biology was reflected in every aspect of his teaching.
Jackie was admired and loved by his students and colleagues for inspirational teaching, supportive mentoring of student researchers, and dedicated service. His research in evolutionary biology generated dozens of scholarly publications, earned generous support from the National Science Foundation, and left a legacy of numerous former students who themselves became professional scientists.
Jackie spent countless hours at the Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA), where he served as director and often taught. He integrated long-term research on fire effects in prairie and woodland ecosystems into his biology classes. He also skied at CERA, hunted deer there with friends, and simply enjoyed long walks on the prairie. He was dedicated to helping students find joy in nature and the study of it.
Jackie attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, where he met his wife Rebecca Loew. He completed his doctorate in zoology at Michigan State University’s Kellogg Biological Station in 1989. He completed postdoctoral positions at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, where he also served as a visiting assistant professor.
He is survived by his wife and his two children, Amelia Loew and Adam Loew.
The family would like to direct memorial support for scholarships and CERA. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, 733 Broad Street, Grinnell, IA 50112. Memorial donations may also be made in Jackie’s memory to The Nature Conservancy, Hawaii Chapter, Kau Preserve, an organization he and his family often contributed and collaborated with friends and colleagues in Hawaii.
Dorothy Maxeiner Beck ’40, East Wenatchee, Washington, May 24, 2019.
Fred C. Schaefer ’41, Grayslake, Illinois, April 21, 2019.
Elaine Capps Heskett ’42, Downers Grove, Illinois, Dec. 28, 2018. Elaine is survived by two children and two grandchildren.
Jean Bates Nelson ’42, Spartanburg, South Carolina, June 9, 2019. A native of Grinnell, Jean moved to New York City in 1945 to work for ABC, where she met her husband Harry Nelson on her first day. After retiring in 1990, she and Harry enjoyed many cruises and trips around the world. Jean ardently supported the arts. She is survived by two sons, two grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
George C. Scott ’43, St. Petersburg, Florida, May 14, 2019. George attended Grinnell College until his junior year, then joined the Navy during World War II. He became a pilot and trained fighter pilots in California and Florida. After the war, he spent his entire professional career working in photo finishing for three different companies. In the waning days of his job, George split his time between work and the golf course. He is survived by two children, three grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
Robert D. Watkins ’44, Bettendorf, Iowa, May 17, 2019. Robert was a member of his class committee from 2004 to 2019. Survivors include his children, Suzanne Watkins Klein ’65 and David Watkins ’67.
Norman K. Peters ’46, Granger, Indiana, March 16, 2019. During World War II, Norman served as a U.S. Navy ensign at a hospital for wounded soldiers returning from combat. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Purdue University. An aerospace engineer at Bendix Corp. (now Honeywell), Norm was integral in the design and development of the Typhoon and Talos missiles. In 1960, he joined Hewlett Packard Corp. and worked directly with Bill Hewlett. After marrying, he and his wife moved back to South Bend, Indiana, where Norm resumed his career with Bendix. He was granted two U.S. patents throughout his career. He is survived by his wife Mary Landram Peters, two children, and two grandchildren.
Kathleen Van Trigt Persons ’47, Granada Hills, California, March 21, 2019. After graduating from Grinnell College, Kay moved to Van Nuys, California, to pursue a career with American Mortgage and Lending. In 1953, she became an escrow officer, and by 1965 she was an executive escrow officer at Manufacturers Bank in Encino, California. She was married to Erwin “Bud” Persons Jr. for 70 years. Kay was very involved in the Catholic Church, the Arts Council at California State University-Northridge, Alzheimer’s Association, American Cancer Society, and VFW and was a leader of many organized bridge clubs.
David C. Jelinek ’49, Bluemont, Virginia, May 11, 2019. Before coming to Grinnell in 1945 and majoring in history, David served as a bombardier on a B-24 with the 458th Bombardment Group, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. While a student at Grinnell, he studied at the University of Stockholm for three semesters. David entered the Foreign Service and with his wife Dorothy was assigned as vice consul in Venice and Palermo, Italy, and Salzburg, Austria. In 1961 he was detailed to the John F. Kennedy White House, where he was engaged in executive recruiting. He transferred to and retired from the U.S. Department of Justice. After retiring in 1979, David was very active in local community service. He is survived by his wife of 68 years; three sons, including Richard Jelinek ’74; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
The Rev. Don R. Yungclas ’50, Grinnell, Iowa, April 15, 2019. After graduating from Grinnell, Don attended Chicago Theological Seminary and was ordained in 1955. He and his wife Patricia Packard ’51, whom he met on a blind date, were married in 1949. Don served as a pastor in churches in Washington state, Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois. He spent the latter half of his career as a conference minister in several different states. He was awarded the Grinnell College Alumni Award in 2013. In 2015, Don and Pat moved back to Grinnell and lived in the Mayflower Community. Survivors include his wife; sister-in-law, Karen Kraft Packard ’54; brother-in-law, B. Gordon Packard ’58; nephew, Bruce Packard ’81; five children; 10 grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren.
Richard M. Boehmler ’51, Missoula, Montana, May 30, 2019. Dick met his wife Doris Cozzens Boehmler ’49 at Grinnell. He transferred to the University of Iowa and earned his doctorate in 1953. As a child, Dick suffered from severe stuttering. He developed an extremely effective model for speech therapy that cured his own stuttering and helped hundreds of clients overcome theirs. He helped found the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Montana. He was also an environmental and wilderness activist. Survivors include his wife of nearly 70 years; brother, Robert Boehmler ’52; three children; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
William A. Hall ’51, Farmington, New Mexico, May 19, 2019. An Iowa native, Bill studied at Pacific University and Grinnell College and earned his doctorate of optometry from Southern Illinois College of Optometry. After practicing in the U.S. Navy for several years, Bill decided to set up his practice in New Mexico. He loved his career and remained in practice until he was 84. Bill served as a city councilman and was praised for his committed service of enriching the community. He is survived by his wife Suzanne Lynn Hall, four children, and nine grandchildren.
Jean Barnett Kramer ’52, Midland, Michigan, July 6, 2018. Jean attended Grinnell College for two years then left to train as an X-ray technician. Jean was a devoted member of Knox Presbyterian Church and served in its Stephen Ministry. She enjoyed golfing, playing bridge, swimming, biking, and vacationing in Maui, Hawaii. All her life, Jean was a diehard Chicago Cubs fan and made sure that she lived long enough to see them win the World Series. Above all, she loved being with her family. She is survived by her three sons, two stepsons, eight grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
Charles E. Dunham ’53, Montpelier, Virginia, May 1, 2019. Chuck served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. After graduating from Grinnell College, he worked for Quaker Oats Co. for 30 years and retired as plant manager of its frozen food plant in Jackson, Tennessee. Chuck was named man of the year by the Jackson Chamber of Commerce in 1987. He was invested in his local community, serving on the boards of the Boy Scouts of America and Jackson Arts and on the Council Advisory Board of Lambuth University in Jackson, now part of the University of Memphis. Chuck is survived by two children, one stepdaughter, and six grandchildren.
Diana Kratoville Garoian ’53, Carbondale, Illinois, April 20, 2019. Diana attended Grinnell College for two years then graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a bachelor’s in education. A lifelong member of Alpha Chi Omega, a member of Southern Illinois University Women’s Club, and a Cub Scout leader, Diana was always invested in the communities around her. She loved to work in her Japanese garden. Survivors include two children and two grandchildren.
William “Neale” Kelley ’53, Lincoln, Nebraska, May 10, 2019. Neale completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Iowa. He worked in banking for many years, retiring in 1997 as senior vice president of First National Bank in Fairbury, Nebraska. Survivors include his wife Patricia Vriezelaar Kelley, three children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Donald W. Pederson ’53, Lincoln, Nebraska, June 2, 2019. Don earned his law degree at the University of Nebraska and started his career first as deputy county attorney in Scotts Bluff County and later in private practice, building his own firm. In 1996 he was appointed to the Nebraska legislature and eventually served 10 years, after which he was term-limited. He is survived by his wife June Remington Pederson, four sons, 12 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
Larry “Nick” Nickander ’54, Edina, Minnesota, Feb. 26, 2019. After Grinnell, Nick served four years in the U.S. Air Force as part of Strategic Air Command and piloting B-25s. Following his military career, he spent most of his time in the work force as a manufacturer’s representative for Broyhill Industries. His favorite pastimes were boating, telling stories, and enjoying the serenity of his cabin on Big Sandy Lake. Nick was a longstanding member of the American Legion and Presidents Club of the North Central Home Furnishings Association. He is survived by his wife Vivette Nickander, two children, and a granddaughter.
Nancy “Anna” Hummel Dallner ’55, St. Paul, Minnesota, Sept. 1, 2018. In her first semester at Grinnell College, Nancy was named to the dean’s list and earned the Phi Beta Kappa book award for academic excellence in the end of her first year. She and her husband moved to the Twin Cities, where they raised their family and enjoyed neighborhood bridge parties. Nancy worked for Target Corp. managing store technology. After moving around the Midwest and to Arizona briefly, they returned to Minnesota in 2015; and Nancy enjoyed her days reading and cheering on her favorite sports teams. Nancy is survived by her husband Robert Dallner, four children, and three grandchildren.
Charles A. Gessler ’55, Torrance, California, April 27, 2019. Charles was a distinguished public defender who worked diligently to provide legal advocacy on behalf of those accused of crimes. He was a longstanding member of St. Cross Episcopal Church.
Carolyn Raffety Knutson ’55, St. Paul, Minnesota, May 27, 2019. Carolyn acted as a class agent in 2019. Survivors include her brother, Seymour Raffety ’54; niece, Jennifer Peek ’13; three children; and six grandchildren.
H. Keith Long ’55, Fort Collins, Colorado, May 17, 2019. In 2000, Keith retired from his career as a chemist in Denver. He loved vintage cars, card games, computer games, woodworking, sailing, camping, and reading. His true passion was for flying. As a student, Keith kept his plane at a nearby airfield in Grinnell. He is survived by his wife Kay Long, three children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Margaret Barnard Stubbs ’56, Baltimore, June 15, 2019. Peggy worked as a child welfare specialist at the state and local levels in Maryland for more than 20 years. She is survived by her siblings, Elizabeth Barnard Brooke ’54 and Thomas Barnard ’61.
Carol Gibson Selby ’57, Davenport, Iowa, June 2, 2019. After college, Carol worked until she started a family, then returned to the work force when her children were all in school. She worked for the Davenport Community School District and retired as an administrative assistant after 31 years. Carol always looked forward to family fishing trips to Minnesota and loved to visit the family farm. She is survived by three children, six grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.
Kathleen Paasch Hunter ’59, Washington, D.C., Nov. 5, 2018. Kathy enjoyed reading and had a keen interest in history and political affairs. She loved raising children and took joy in the innocence and curiosity of all babies and toddlers. She is survived by her husband John Hunter, four children, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Harris E. Ulery ’59, Newark, Delaware, June 18, 2019. After Grinnell, Harris earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. He spent his career as a laboratory research chemist with DuPont in Delaware, where he occasionally worked on projects beyond the confines of chemistry. His thirst for knowledge never waned, and he pursued a variety of hobbies that included languages, aviation, computer programming, woodworking, birding, and gardening. For many years he volunteered as a tutor at Delaware School for the Deaf and Literacy Delaware. His memories from Grinnell provided a rich source for stories he loved to share. He is survived by his former wife, Dana Tanzer Ulery ’59; two children; and two grandchildren.
Janet “Jill” Gleysteen Dill ’60, Wilmington, Delaware, May 13, 2019. Jill is survived by her sister, Glenore Gleysteen Jerrard ’69.
John “Jack” Pitts ’61, Santa Rosa, California, May 13, 2019.
Patricia Haley ’63, May 19, 2019. Pat studied art and French at Grinnell and completed her degree at San Francisco State University in 1964. She taught art at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Day School in San Mateo, California. In 1980, she became a realtor in San Mateo and the Santa Maria valley. Pat was the sales manager at multiple firms throughout her career. Always active in the community, she was a regular and passionate contributor at Rotary, Kiwanis, and Minerva. She enjoyed traveling the world and was a lifelong lover of the arts. She is survived by three children and four grandchildren.
The Rev. Allen L. Lewis ’63, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, April 29, 2019. Allen attended Grinnell College and Augustana College before embarking on a 13-year career in the trucking industry, rising to president of Midwest Coast Transportation. Allen returned to Augustana College and received a bachelor’s in 1980. He later went on to earn his master’s of divinity from the University of the South, School of Theology. He served as a pastor in towns across the Midwest, including Sioux Falls and Sturgis, South Dakota. Even retiring in 2012, he offered continued support to local churches in Lahaina, Hawaii. Allen is survived by his wife Brenda Anderson Lewis, four children, and five grandchildren.
Mary Barnard Litts ’64, Las Cruces, New Mexico, July 5, 2019. Mary graduated from the University of Iowa after attending Grinnell. She worked at the University of Iowa for more than 40 years in a number of different positions, finally as the director of volunteer services at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. While director, she created a number of programs meant to improve the patient and family experience, such as a certified dog visitation service. Mary was also involved in the Iowa Directors of Volunteer Services, Rotary International, and the League of Women Voters in New Mexico. She is survived by her husband Stephen Litts, two children, and two grandsons.
Mary Jane Cooper ’68, North Port, Florida, May 20, 2019. Janie was a member of the synchronized swim team and the board of Associated Women Students at Grinnell. She worked as a computer programmer in Iowa, Minnesota, and Massachusetts for many years before moving to Florida. She was a successful executive assistant and director of marketing for a local general contractor. Her many personal passions included playing tennis and writing letters to the editor of the local paper, many of which were featured in print. She served on her class committee from 2006 to 2011. Janie is survived by her son and daughter and two grandchildren.
Karen Smith ’69, Chicago, May 5, 2019.
Kathleen Ogle Ronnebaum ’72, Baileyville, Kansas, May 7, 2019. Kathleen graduated from Grinnell with a major in history with an emphasis on Slavic studies. She earned a master’s in elementary education from Emporia State University and later a master’s in special education from Kansas State University. Kathleen taught gifted students for most of her career and led many academic competitions such as a Geography Bee, Scholar’s Bowl, and math activities. She was a founding member of the Seneca Quilt Guild, taught quilting lessons, and was regionally recognized for her artistic ability. Kathleen is survived by her husband Elmer Ronnebaum and two children.
Joyce Nakamura-Tanoue ’73, Honolulu, May 10, 2019. Joyce graduated from Grinnell and returned home to HawaiI, where she earned her medical degree at the University of Hawaii. She completed her OB-GYN training and worked at the Honolulu Medical Group before joining Kaiser Permanente Group. Joyce retired in 2014 after 28 years with Kaiser. She enjoyed making crafts and playing the guitar and piano. She is survived by her husband Ross Tanoue and two sons.
Robert C. Creasey ’74, Waterloo, Iowa, Sept. 21, 2018. After graduating from Grinnell, Bob earned his law degree at the University of Iowa College of Law. He spent most of his career teaching at Western Iowa Tech Community College. He loved grilling fine cuts of steak and was a practiced photographer. Bob served on his class committee from 2004 to 2007 and was a class solicitor from 2010 to 2012. Survivors include his brother, Bill Creasey ’69; nephew, David Creasey ’04; and two children.
Dennis E. Lamb ’80, Grinnell, Iowa, May 29, 2019. Dennis grew up in Grinnell and graduated from Grinnell High School and Grinnell College. In his youth, he and his brother, Dale Lamb ’78, made a business venture in shoveling snow and mowing lawns for $3 to $5 per house. After college, he taught in the Grinnell sSchool district as a full-time and substitute teacher. Dennis was an athletic and artistic child and balanced both of those pastimes well into adulthood. Survivors include his brother; sister-in law, Mary Finn Lamb ’80; and parents, sister, and a nephew.
Kevin J. Lang ’83, Sunnyvale, California, April 29, 2019. Kevin was a math major and a member of the Grinnell Singers. He won the Archibald Prize his senior year, awarded to the student with the highest grade point average. He earned a doctorate in computer science in 1989 from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and worked as a computer science researcher for several different companies, including Yahoo, which recognized him as a “master inventor” in 2015. He published more than 30 research papers during his time with Yahoo. Survivors include his parents; brother, David Lang ’87; and two half-sisters.
David N. Mitchell ’90, Pelham, New York, June 22, 2019. After David majored in English at Grinnell, he worked for various companies in Chicago before returning to his native New York. He married Lestiyani Mitchell in 2008. Most recently he worked for Stroz Friedberg, a risk management Aon company, as a project manager. David was a voracious reader, had a deep interest in history, and loved listening to jazz. He is survived by his wife, three children, his mother, and his sister.
Heather Strait ’93, Elbert, Colorado, June 16, 2019. She is survived by two children.
Leota May Brown, Chesterfield, Missouri, April 28, 2019. Leota was 89. She spent many years at Grinnell College as secretary with the athletics department. She is survived by a daughter, five grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.