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Alumni Community

A Tribute to

Ruth Knapp Gieschen By Dr. Walter Brayman


uth Gieschen died in

the school and a wonderful force for the positive and the

her sleep at home on

good.” She had a helpful, warm, and witty connection to

November 4, 2014, age 90.

students, three of whom spoke movingly at her memorial

Barstow librarian 1972–1990,

service (Laura O’Brien ’79, Melanie Carver ’84, and Bill

just two weeks before her

Raney ’88). Ruth continued to study, earning a MA at the New

death she met friends at the

School for Social Research, and she travelled extensively with

Beyond Barstow party for

Barstow groups and friends as far as China, and as close as

retired teachers.

Colorado for archeological work with Peggy Dryden. Ruth

Graduating from Cornell, she met husband Bill in Missouri and raised three sons here (Larry, John, and Richard), but was widowed in 1980 and lost her son Richard in 2011. She

was made Honorary Alumna in 1990, and the school cited “her gifts of love and laughter and compassion and loyalty and indomitable spirit.” After 1990, she stayed active. Her friend Dorothy Curry recalls Ruth’s support and advice for Gordon Parks School,

is survived by sons Larry (Kay) and John; brother, Dr. Leslie

which along with her help for soup kitchens at Ward Chapel

Knapp; seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

AME Church and at Restart, and her committee work at All

At Barstow she grew the library collection to support

Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, showed her spirit and

the curriculum. She worked closely with Headmaster Mike

values. To Dorothy, Ruth was “a leader who could be part of a

Churchman and architect Fred Truog to design a new library

team.” The Honorary Alumna citation identified Ruth as “an

in 1983 and to advocate for students’ needs in a beautiful,

archetypal woman of the ’90s.” She is a model for a lot longer.

practical space. Churchman says, “Ruth was a huge asset to

Ruth Gieschen, much admired and loved, will be missed.

A Tribute to

Nancy Brosnahan Brooker ’59 By Anne Potter Russ ’78


ithout a doubt, Nancy was the funni-

est woman on the planet. Besides being funny and

and sodas to phone-a-thons really did serve the greater good. She taught me to use the word “cheapskate” sparingly. She taught me that Mark Adams could fix anything with a

irreverent, she did not suffer

DOS system and a dot matrix printer. She taught me that bulk

fools well… nor stupid people…

mailings really were the work of the devil. She taught me that

nor those who could not affix

a sunny afternoon, a pool, a dog and some family and friends

stamps to envelopes without

are all you ever need on a Saturday. She taught me that loving

a tutorial. Sometimes those

with a fierce and loyal heart is everything. She taught me that

qualities were all found in

your daughter can, indeed, be your best friend… if you parent

the same person. When that

her first. She taught me that a good boss is the best mentor in

combination presented itself

the world.

in Nancy’s office, she had to walk briskly down the stairs at

Nancy, thank you for taking me under your wing, for

Barstow to find Nancy Thiessen or Bob Bucker and beg for

providing a friendship that stood the test of time and

laughter and common sense in the lunchroom.

generations, and for being the kind of wife, mother and friend

She was also a mentor. She taught me to raise money with


humor and a thick skin. She taught me that schlepping beer


I still aspire to be.

The Barstow School Magazine  

Fall 2015

The Barstow School Magazine  

Fall 2015