In Memoriam: Fall 2016 / Winter 2017

With sadness, the Mandel School announces the passing of our extraordinary alumni and friends. We extend heartfelt condolences to their loved ones. (This “In Memoriam” was originally published in the Fall 2016 / Winter 2017 issue of action magazine.)

Ruth Dilley Sims, MSSA 1937, passed away July 26 at the age of 107 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Mrs. Sims was born in 1908 in Peking, China. She moved to Ohio to earn an undergraduate degree at the College of Wooster and later earned a nursing diploma and public health nurse certificate from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at (Case) Western Reserve University, all prior to receiving her MSSA. As a public health nurse in Cleveland, she cared for underprivileged families. During World War II, she was a U.S. Army nurse in England. After the war, she and her husband moved to St. Louis, where she worked to integrate a local public pool. During the late 1960s, she earned a guidance counseling certificate from the University of Texas El Paso. In 1971, she retired from teaching and moved to St. Petersburg to nurse her 94-year-old mother.

Carroll D. Colby, MSSA 1941, passed away September 23 in Lacey, Wash. He served as a naval officer during World War II. After the war, he held social work positions in Indianapolis and Kansas City, Kansas, before becoming the Director of the Group Work and Recreation Division of the Community Chest of Hennepin County, Minn., and later Assistant Director of the Community Chest of Philadelphia Operations Division. From 1959 to 1969, he was the Executive Director of the Welfare Planning Council in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. During that time, he was also the first Executive Director of the Commission on Economic Opportunity in Luzerne County, Pa. He went on to be the Executive Director of the North Shore Health Planning Council in Peabody, Mass.

Robert H. Weiner, MSSA 1942, passed away June 1 at the age of 97 in Chevy Chase, Md. He had a long career in Jewish communal service, including 25 years as Executive Director of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington. He was a founding board member of the Washington Community Music School, which served inner city youth. After earning his master’s degree, he worked with at-risk youth in Indiana and Chicago. In 1958, Mr. Weiner became Executive Director of the Jewish Community Center of Washington. In 1980, Governor Harry Hughes appointed him to the Maryland State Commission on Ethnic Affairs, which he chaired in 1984 and 1985.

Marjorie S. Young, MSSA 1948

Edna F. Roth, MSSA 1952, of Eastham, Mass., received a bachelor’s degree from (Case) Western Reserve University’s Flora Stone Mather College in 1950 and a PhD from Smith College School for Social Work in 1969. In 2002, she was awarded the Day-Garrett Award for outstanding contributions to professional social work as a member of the Smith College School for Social Work educational community. She was also former faculty of the Mandel School, receiving the first Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award in 1975. During her time at the Mandel School, her nickname was “T” among her peers. She was also a Professor Emeritus of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work. Her best friend and life-long companion, Elizabeth “Betty” Lewis, PhD 1972, passed away in December 2015.

Antoinette (Stornellie) Shimer, MSSA 1952

David Louis Weingarden, MSSA 1953, passed away May 13 at the age of 90 in Bakersfield, Calif. He served in World War II and then earned his degrees at (Case) Western Reserve University using the GI Bill. Over the course of 53 years, he was a school social worker, an adult protective services worker and psychiatric social worker. He also maintained a private practice for a number of years before retiring at the age of 80.

David Macarov, MSSA 1954

Bill Oshima, MSSA 1956, died September 24 in Las Vegas, Nev. After earning his master’s degree, he worked with inner-city youth in a settlement house in Cleveland. He and his family eventually moved to Boston, where he continued assisting inner-city minority communities. In the 1970s, he taught at the Boston College School of Social Work and earned a master’s degree in business. He later worked for programs aimed at increasing opportunities for minority- and women owned businesses to obtain government contracts.

Joanne M. Braucher, MSSA 1966, passed away March 12. She was a social worker for more than 40 years. She specialized in administration and working directly with neglected and emotionally disturbed children and youth.

Jean E. Serkownek, MSSA 1971, passed away August 5 in Euclid, Ohio. She was a dedicated social worker and a supporter of many causes, including social justice, women’s reproductive rights, animal rights and the environment. She worked at The Centers for Families and Children in Cleveland from 1983 until her passing.

Michael James Murphy, PhD 1974, died at the age of 82 on July 22 in Shaker Heights, Ohio. He served in the U.S. Air Force, retiring with the rank of Captain in 1967. He was a Professor at the Mandel School and was recently posthumously inducted as a member of the Mandel School Hall of Achievement.

Shelly Jean Obert, MSSA 1974, passed away August 6 in Hudson, Ohio. She worked for 42 years at Portage Path Behavioral Health Center in Akron, Ohio, most recently as Director of Quality Improvement.

Martha Merrek, MSSA 1977, age 93, passed away February 22 in Kirtland, Ohio. She retired after 20 years at the VA Medical Center in Chillicothe, Ohio. After retirement, she spent several years as a volunteer in numerous organizations in the Cleveland area.

Michael Robert Williams, MSSA 1977 (pictured), Director of the Cleveland State University Black Studies Program, died July 12 in Cleveland. He was a graduate of Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, where he majored in sociology and was an All-American in track and field. He held a second master’s degree in public health and a doctorate in social work from the University of Pittsburgh. Later, he studied for a master of divinity degree at the Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio. Dr. Williams joined the faculty at Cleveland State University in 1985 as an Assistant Professor of social work. He was granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor in 1991. In 2004, Dr. Williams was named Director of Black Studies and remained in that post until his death. He continued to teach social work classes while working diligently to make black studies a major. Due to his efforts, Cleveland State University now has a major and minor in black studies. He also counseled and mentored graduate and minority students in various settings, as well as individuals in undergraduate school, community mental health facilities and community-based organizations. Dr. Williams was active in the Association for Black Cultural Centers (ABCC) and Cleveland State received a salute from ABCC as the “100 Most Active Culture Centers” in 2010. He received numerous awards throughout his career. He was also affiliated with numerous local and national professional organizations and served on several boards throughout his career. He published and conducted research on such topics as culturally relevant treatment with African American populations, the political use of the concept of race and AIDS in the African American community. One of Dr. William’s great loves was the Jazz Heritage Orchestra, an orchestra-in-residence of the Cleveland State Black Studies Program. Under his tutelage, the orchestra recorded with nationally known artist Bennie Goldstein.

Jacqueline A. Beckwith, MSSA 1978, died April 16 in Atlanta. She was a clinical social worker and retired from the State of Georgia.

Mary Elizabeth Field, MSSA 1978, passed away July 1 in Willoughby, Ohio. She volunteered and helped individuals with mental health concerns while working at Neighboring Mental Health Services in Mentor, Ohio.

David W. McVay, MSSA 1981

Rebecca C. Stager, CNM 1988, died September 6 in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. She had retired from the nonprofit Home Repair Resource Center in Cleveland Heights as Marketing and Development Associate after 22 years.

Sylvia Strasshofer, MSSA 1989, passed away August 5. She was a social worker for Goodwill, Supervisor of Protective Services for Geauga County (Ohio), Child Support Administrator for Portage County (Ohio) and an Instructor for National College.

Joseph Donald Belair, MSSA 1990, died August 31. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army who was proud of having worked his way through college to earn his bachelor’s degree in social work from The University of Akron. He worked for 32 years in public service.

Rosemarie Juriga, MSSA 1992, died August 14. She was Executive Director of the Tri-County Independent Living Center in Akron, Ohio, for 26 years. The agency serves people with disabilities in Summit, Stark and Portage counties. During her tenure, the organization expanded from a grassroots initiative to a nonprofit advocacy and service agency. Described as a social justice warrior by those who knew her, she also served disadvantaged youth as director of 7001 Training and Employment Center and worked for the Akron Community Service Center, Urban League and Goodwill Industries of Akron. Among many other volunteer roles, she dedicated her time and energy as Co-Chairwoman of the Tuff Stuff Committee and as President and Vice President of the Community Welfare Forum.

Poppy Mischler, MSSA 1999, passed away June 26 in Sandusky, Ohio. For more than 15 years, she counseled hundreds of families and couples as a mental health therapist and worked especially well with adolescent girls.

In Memoriam lists deceased alumni and friends for whom death notices were received between April 1, 2016, and September 30, 2016.