The Best of Wellesley
Janet McDonald Hill ’69 (“In Memoriam,” fall 2022) was often the one with the car, who posted “available seats” to ride to Yale on Friday afternoons and back on Sunday afternoons, for her to see Calvin and me Chip, who has been my husband for 52 years. I was in awe of her then, and later when I was on the faculty at Duke and she was on [Duke’s board of trustees]. Such verve. Such dignity. Such brains. The best of Wellesley!
Judy Cheek Hays ’70, Nashville, Tenn.
A Class Act
I am so sad to learn that Janet McDonald Hill ’69 has died (“In Memoriam,” fall 2022)! I knew her from statistics class in spring 1967 where she sat in the front row and asked probing, perceptive questions. I sat near the back of the room because I did not have a handle on the material, and I learned as much from her questions as from the professor’s presentations. I remember thinking, “Oh, I get it!” when she asked a clarifying question. She was amazing!
Margaret Dewar ’70, Ann Arbor, Mich.
A Lasting Legacy
I am saddened to hear of the passing of Janet McDonald Hill ’69 (“In Memoriam,” fall 2022) and deeply grateful for the legacy she leaves on the Wellesley community at large and the Black Wellesley community specifically. I had the privilege of co-chairing the Ethos 50th Anniversary planning committee with Anna Johnson ’02 during my senior year of college and was honored to lift up the legacy of the founders of Ethos. Thank you for what you have done to make Wellesley her best and continuing to give back to the College in the many ways you do, formally and informally. May she rest in eternal peace and may her legacy and name live on.
Sydney Stewart ’18, New York City
A Generous Alumna
I am saddened to hear of the passing of Janet McDonald Hill ’69 (“In Memoriam,” fall 2022). She hosted another foreign student and myself when we had the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. We would ride the train with her to the Pentagon, spend the day sightseeing, and return back with her. I will always remember her kindness and generosity. May her soul rest in peace.
Suchetha Thanabalasundrum Srikanthan ’80, San Ramon, Calif.
It’s an Honor
Congratulations, Laura, on all your accomplishments (“Fighting For a More Perfect Union,” fall 2022, the Alumnae Achievement Award profile of Laura Wheeler Murphy ’76). I’m tickled pink to have had your acquaintance. Beautiful in every way.
Kay Telesford Simmons ’77, Teaneck, N.J.
Where Recognition Is Also Due
I recently saw a request for submissions for the Alumnae Achievement Awards. I feel compelled to write with a brief story and observation. I recently went to a classmate’s wedding and saw an old friend from the class of ’03, a woman I remember as a brilliant biology student. She was there with her two children, one of whom has severe special needs. She was so patient with him, and he clearly needs her assistance at all times. I remember thinking how much harder she is working than I am, with a career and two healthy kids. And I thought, she is the kind of person who deserves recognition. Honestly, the easiest thing I do all week is go to my office! I wish we could somehow recognize that in our Wellesley community. So many women are doing incredibly hard things in their personal lives for which there aren’t awards and honors. And they capture that sed Ministrare spirit as much as the very famous Wellesley alums of the world.
Anne Mostue ’03, Lincoln, Mass.
An Appreciation for a Fearless Alum
In the mid-1970s, Nikki Finke ’75 was editor-in-chief of the Wellesley News (see “In Memoriam”). Decades later, she became the journalistic scourge of Hollywood venality and hypocrisy. Her Los Angeles Times obituary quoted her accurately describing herself as “a woman with brass balls, f— you attitude, and ruthless hustle, who told hard truths about the moguls and who accurately reported scoops first.” And she was often hilarious doing it—look online for transcripts of her “live-snarking” commentaries puncturing much-adored Hollywood spectacles like the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes.
I became friends with Nikki after she began posting some stories I’d written on her Hollywood fiction website. We soon realized we’d been at Wellesley at the same time. “Oh,” Nikki asked mock-innocently, “Did we sleep together?”
Nikki Finke was tough and fearless. She was also warm and supportive. Suffering from chronic illnesses, two years ago she told me she figured she’d live another two years. Honest as always, and right on the money. She left us too soon.
Jay Abramowitz, Wesleyan ’76,Wellesley coed 1974–75
That Wellesley Vibe
I graduated from Wellesley in 1954 and knew Cecilia Conrad ’76 (“Genius Scout,” winter 2020) while she was teaching at Barnard. I first met her when she, about to replace me as treasurer of our community organization, sat with me talking about the work. I experienced strong vibes during our chat that she, too, was a Wellesley alum. I couldn’t explain this or figure it out. As I got to know her better the feeling persisted, yet it was too nosy to ask anyone where they went to college. But after she left NYC I got lucky, as I read in this magazine, a letter from her as an alum. So, my strange vibes, while still puzzling to me, were finally verified! She, of course, excelled as a treasurer of our grassroots group—as she did in everything in her remarkable life. (And the cute son she wheeled in his toddler stroller then is now a highly regarded economics professor.) Brava, brava, brava, Cecilia!
Marjorie Berk ’54, New York City
An Appreciation from an Exchange Student
I am an associate member of the Wellesley Alumnae Association. During my senior year at Dartmouth, I was a Twelve College Exchange Student. I had the privilege of being a student in Mrs. Robinson’s (Alice Birmingham Robinson ’46, “In Memoriam,” winter 2021) historiography class. It was interesting, exciting, and intellectually challenging. Indeed, along with Mrs. Preyer’s [Kathryn Preyer, professor of history at Wellesley] legal history seminar, it was among the best courses of my undergraduate career.
John D. Sharer