In Memoriam: Alumni Classes of 1960 - 1969

Longtime Trustee Ken Kaiserman ’60, of Philadelphia, whose family’s connection to Brandeis extends to the university’s earliest days, died Aug. 19 of cancer. Regarded as Brandeis’ unofficial goodwill ambassador in Philadelphia, he hosted many alumni programs in his hometown, including an introductory event for President Fred Lawrence in spring 2011. Known for an ever-present bow tie that brought a sartorial flair to meetings, Ken first joined the Board of Trustees as an alumni-term trustee in 1995. He was a longtime member of the board’s development committee. He and his brother, Ron ’63, P’07, established the Kevy and Hortense Kaiserman Chair in the Humanities in honor of their parents, who were among the visionaries who helped found Brandeis. Ken and his wife, Susan, also funded an endowed scholarship to support students. He was a charter member of the Sachar Legacy Society and helped launch the Lois Zetter ’60 Theater Arts Scholarship to memorialize a classmate who died in 2009. Ken volunteered to organize his class Reunions, including the 50th in 2010, and was also active with the Alumni Association and the Alumni Admissions Council. In addition, he served as chair of the Alumni Annual Fund in 1999-2000. At the time of his death, he was president of the Kaiserman Co., the real-estate acquisition, development and management firm his father founded in the 1920s. The company manages more than 4 million square feet of office, commercial and residential properties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. In addition to his wife and brother, he leaves two daughters, Amanda and Laura; his grandson, Quentin; and his sister, Constance. Two other family members also graduated from Brandeis, niece Shira Kaiserman ’07 and cousin Michael Markovitz ’71. Ellen Levine ’60, of New York, an author whose children’s books brought the stories of slaves, immigrants and those who fought for social justice to life, died on May 26, 19 months after she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Her books included “Henry’s Freedom Box,” which tells the true story of a slave who mailed himself to freedom in a box less than three feet square; “Darkness Over Denmark,” a story about the Danish resistance during World War II; and “I Hate English,” a tale about a Chinese girl trying to learn a new language. She also worked on documentaries for CBS television. Her book “Freedom’s Children,” about young civil rights activists, was described in The New York Times in 1993 as “nothing short of wonderful” and praised for the vivid human stories told by the people she interviewed. After graduating from Brandeis, she earned an MA from the University of Chicago and a JD from New York University Law School. Prior to her writing career, Ellen clerked for U.S. Chief Judge Joseph Lord in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and practiced law for the Prisoners Rights Project of the New York Legal Aid Society. “I grew up,” she wrote, “knowing there were battles to be fought and worlds to change.” She leaves her spouse and partner of 40 years, Anne Koedt, and a sister, Mada. Hobart Burch, Heller PhD’65, of Marathon, Fla., a minister, professor and social worker, died of heart failure on June 16. An ordained minister of the United Church of Christ, he received his PhD in social work from Brandeis. During his career, he served as head of Homeland Missions for United Church of Christ, worked at the National Institute of Mental Health, was an assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in Washington, D.C., and spent 26 years on the faculty at the University of Nebraska, where he directed the School of Social Work. He authored many books, including the first social-work textbook allowed in China. He leaves his wife, Jan; a daughter, Juanita; two sons, David and Peter; nine grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. Jerold Starr, MA’66, PhD’70, of Pittsburgh, a college sociology professor who created a curriculum to teach high-school and college students about the Vietnam War, died July 30 of lung cancer. He taught at the University of Pennsylvania from 1969-76, then took a job as a sociology professor at West Virginia University (WVU), where he worked from 1976-2002. He served as a visiting professor of communication at the University of California, San Diego, from 2004-08, when he retired. In 1984, he founded the Center for Social Studies Education and created a curriculum — based on a course he taught at WVU for 13 years — for teaching students about the Vietnam War. The curriculum was ultimately incorporated into thousands of high-school and college programs across the country. He most recently wrote the books “The Arts in Social Change” and “Air Wars: The Fight to Reclaim Public Broadcasting.” His plays “Buried: The Sago Mine Disaster” and “Interesting Times” were produced at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company. To advocate for the diverse content he found lacking in public television, he established Pittsburgh Educational Television, Citizens for Independent Public Broadcasting, and the Coalition to Defend Educational Broadcasting. He leaves his wife, Judy; two sons, Jason and Zack; and a sister, Sherry. Stephen Pearlman ’67, of Denver, a nationally recognized water and wastewater environmentalist, died on June 19. He had recently retired as director of environmental services after 41 years with the regional Metro Wastewater Reclamation District. He held leadership positions in the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. Stephen was active on the board of Water for People, which works to build a world where all people have access to safe drinking water and sanitation. He leaves his wife, Nancy; three children, DJ, Magda and Leah; three grandchildren, Correy, Charlotte and Collin; and a brother, Harvey. (For more about Stephen, see In Memoriam "Love Will Endure.") Melvin Wilk, MA’69, of Des Moines, Iowa, a poet and a member of the faculty at Simpson College from 1981 until his retirement in 2007, died on April 21 of cancer. At Simpson, he founded the Multicultural and Minority Affairs Committee, was a generous mentor to his students and served as the faculty adviser for the school’s literary journal. As head of the Poets and Writers program, he brought in numerous nationally recognized poets for seminars and readings. In 1989, he won Simpson’s Research Award, and in 2007 he won the Distinguished Teacher Award. His poetry was published nationally, including in The New Yorker. He was a founding board member of the Des Moines National Poetry Festival and served on the board from 1991-2007. He leaves his wife, Mary Beth; a daughter, Sarah; three sons, Joseph, Gabriel and Finley; two sisters, Phyllis and Donna; a brother, Steven; and three granddaughters, Julia, Aviva and Phoebe. Gordon Young, MA’69, PhD’70, of West Lafayette, Ind., a professor emeritusin the Department of History at Purdue University, died on July 12. He taught at Purdue for 43 years, retiring in 2009. He helped found the Jewish studies program at Purdue in 1982 and served as interim co-director from 1994-97 and director in 2002. He was a founding member of the Midwest Jewish Studies Association. Gordon won the Excellence in Teaching Award in 1982 and was inducted into the Book of Great Teachers on Aug. 28, 2008. He leaves two daughters, Susan and Kristin; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.