In Memoriam

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by | Jan 18, 2019

Donald J. Davidson ’60

Donald J. Davidson, 80, of New York, NY, died December 3, 2014 after a battle with cancer.

Born September 24, 1934 in Gentryville, Indiana, to the late Dorothy Eberhardt Davidson and Harvey Harrison Davidson, Donald graduated from Farmland High School and earned a bachelor of arts degree from Antioch College. Drafted into the Army, he served in Germany, a country he grew to love. He worked as an editor in the publishing trade for Viking Press, Dodd Mead, Grosset & Dunlap and other firms. A fierce liberal, he canvassed door-to-door for political causes in the 1980s for such groups such as CISPES and USOCA, to heighten awareness of U.S. activities in Central America. During the 1980s he taught technical writing and English as a second language. He was a tremendous advocate for Antioch College, providing support to re-establish the institution.

Donald was fascinated with history, opera and the etymology of languages. From time to time he communicated with columnists regarding language usage, never passing up an opportunity to explain where they were incorrectly using a phrase or terminology. While profoundly deaf in later life, he spoke and understood a number of languages. In 2012, his fascination with the history of the Ohio River motivated him to charter a pontoon boat to explore for several days with three others, including his son Kevin. Reading widely and deeply throughout his life, Donald examined topics until well versed in them. Quick to be modest (“I know a little bit about a lot of topics”), he was amazingly well-informed and enjoyed sharing his knowledge with others. Donald’s great love was his family and its genealogy. He was in the midst of writing a personal memoir and family history when cancer cruelly took his life.

When asked how he came to choose Antioch College he shared how the cooperative education component allowed him to gain work experience while paying his way through college. On his second co-op, Don, along with George Humphrey ’58, Roger Guettinger ’58, and Ronald Ravitch worked as copy boys for the Toledo Blade and were assigned alternating news beats. They had the distinction of being the second group of four Antioch co-op students. Donald, in a StoryCorps interview conducted with his daughter and son, shared how exciting it was to learn the mechanics of a newspaper. The co-op that had the greatest impact on his life was with the renowned mental institutions the Chestnut Lodge. Of his experience there he said; “It was an unbelievably fraught experience, but it was wonderful.”

He loved Antioch and one might say that he invested a lot of energy and attention towards this little teeny college (that many overlook) because it had a tremendous impact on him. He worked tirelessly to in the re-opening of the College, giving of his time, treasure and many talents.

Donald is survived by sisters, Jeanne Davidson Ford and Mary Carolyn Davidson Wright; ex-wife, Joan; son, Kevin; daughter, Denise; and extended family. 

Dr. Philip Rothman, professor emeritus

Philip Rothman passed away peacefully at home on October 6, 2014, three weeks shy of his 93rd birthday.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Phil, along with his wife, Esther, and their growing family, moved to Yellow Springs in 1954. There he began his 40-year teaching career at Antioch College, which included chairing the Education Department.

Phil received his BA from Temple University before shipping out to the Philippines where he served as a sergeant in the Army’s Signal Corp in WWII. During his service, he became an expert in radar and received a Purple Heart. He returned to Temple to complete an MA and then moved to New York to complete a Ph.D. at NYU, where he was greatly influenced by innovative ideas for education.

Dedicated to the values of integrity, fairness and honesty, Phil was a strong proponent of abolishing segregation in the schools and in society. In addition to his teaching at Antioch, during the 1950s and 60s, he was commissioned by the National Conference of Jews and Christians to provide school integration workshops for teachers around the country. He wrote numerous articles about the negative impact of school segregation.

As a long-term civic-minded resident of Yellow Springs, Phil was very active in and chaired the local chapters of the ACLU, NAACP and the Human Rights Council. A strong supporter of the civil rights struggle, Phil testified in US District Court in 1975 as part of an NAACP lawsuit concerning the negative impact of racial discrimination on education.

Phil and Esther loved to travel and took advantage of summers, sabbaticals and retirement to visit all 50 states as well as six continents. Their travels included camping trips across the U.S., taking a freighter through the Panama Canal and sailing up the coast of Norway on a mail boat. When he traveled abroad, Phil used the opportunity to look at the local school systems. One sabbatical was spent teaching in London and another as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Calabar in Nigeria.

Phil is survived by his beloved wife of almost 67 years, Esther; his children Carol, Bonnie, Alex and Jay; 16 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

News source: Yellow Springs News

Mark Strand ’57

Mark Strand ‘57, whose spare, deceptively simple investigations of rootlessness, alienation and the ineffable strangeness of life made him one of America’s most hauntingly meditative poets, died on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, at his daughter’s home in Brooklyn, NY. He was 80.

Mr. Strand, who was named poet laureate of the United States in 1990 and awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1999 for his collection “Blizzard of One,” made an early impression with short, often surreal lyric poems that imparted an unsettling sense of personal dislocation—what the poet and critic Richard Howard called “the working of the divided self.”

Mark Apter Strand was born on April 11, 1934, in Summerside on Prince Edward Island in Canada. His father’s job with Pepsi-Cola entailed many transfers. Mr. Strand spent his childhood in Cleveland, Halifax, Montreal, New York and Philadelphia and his teenage years in Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

He initially set his sights on becoming an artist. “I was never much good with language as a child,” he told “The Los Angeles Times Magazine” in 1991. “Believe me, the idea that I would someday become a poet would have come as a complete shock to everyone in my family.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree at Antioch College in 1957, he enrolled in the Yale School of Art and Architecture, studying under Josef Albers. By the time he received his bachelor of fine arts in painting in 1959, he had discovered his vocation as a poet. He spent a year in Florence on a Fulbright Grant studying 19th-century Italian poetry and was accepted into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, from which he graduated with a master of fine arts in 1962.

His career took off when the celebrated poetry editor Harry Ford accepted his second volume of poems, “Reasons for Moving,” at Atheneum, which went on to publish the collections “Darker” (1970), “The Story of Our Lives” (1973) and “The Late Hour” (1978). To critics who complained that his poems, with their emphasis on death, despair and dissolution, were too dark, he replied, “I find them evenly lit.”

Interviewed in The Paris Review by the actor Wallace Shawn in 1998, Strand described his poetic territory as “the self, the edge of the self, and the edge of the world,” what he called “that shadow land between self and reality.” The severe economies of his early work, however, led to frustration and its “bleak landscape” came to feel repetitive.

“I felt I had to sort of break through that limitation,” he said. “And so you have, in my long poem ‘Dark Harbor,’ many other things cropping up. You have Marsyas and the Mafia, the muzhiks being slaughtered, Russian women at a dinner party.”

Strand’s interest in visual art remained constant. He wrote books on the painters Hopper and William Bailey, and a collection of critical essays, “The Art of the Real” (1983). About five years ago he began making collages, using paper he made by hand. The work was exhibited in New York by Lori Bookstein Fine Art in Chelsea.

In addition to his daughter, Strand is survived by his partner, Maricruz Bilbao; his son, Thomas; a sister, Judith Major; and a grandson.

News source: The New York Times