Archive | 2012

Aaron L. Benjamin

Aaron L. Benjamin, 78, a retired urban planner who became a development officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development, died June 13 of complications from pneumonia at a hospital in Ashland, Ore. He moved to Ashland from Arlington County in 1998. Mr. Benjamin joined USAID in 1967 and specialized in housing and redevelopment programs while serving in Egypt, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. He retired in 1989. Aaron Leon Benjamin was born in New York City and was a graduate of Brooklyn College. He received a master’s degree in city planning from New York University in 1959. Before joining USAID, he was an urban planner and housing specialist in New York, California and Switzerland. He was director of planning and development in Elizabeth, N.J., from 1965 to 1967. Mr. Benjamin was a member of several planning and foreign service organizations and collected art and antiquities from Latin America. He played jazz bass and Spanish guitar and enjoyed photography. Survivors include his wife of 46 years, Judith Greifer Benjamin of Ashland; two children, Cynthia Benjamin of the District and Robert Benjamin of Ashland; and a brother. Donations in his honor can be sent to Habitat for Humanity. Comments posted here will be sent to his family. (originally written by Matt Strudel, source:

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Adel Gohar

From USAID: It is with great sorrow that we announce the loss of a dear colleague and friend Dr. Adel Gohar, who used to work for USAID/Egypt’s Education Office for nearly 28 years. He passed away on Monday, August 23rd after a long illness. Those who knew and worked closely with him understood his fine nature and good heart. He was admired for his wisdom, knowledge and passionate approach to development. Dr. Adel was an advocate for all FSNs, whether serving outside or inside the FSN committee, and always provided FSNs with genuine guidance and advice. He treated all people equally, with respect and decency regardless of their age or background. Dr. Adel was loved by everyone and was indeed the main mentor for the FSN community. He will be greatly missed by all but will be remembered for years and years to come. Any questions concerning this notice may be directed to Edel Perez-Campos, USAID/Egypt, 202-2522-7102.

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Lenni Kangas – USAID FSO ret.

The following was provided by Anna Quandt, Lenni’s loving spouse and UAA alumna: Lenni William Kangas, 78, died of cancer on Thursday, April 7, 2011, at his home in Iowa City, Iowa, surrounded by his wife and children. Lenni began his life in a small Finnish community in northern Minnesota, the only child of Katharyn and Waino William Kangas. He grew up in Superior, Wisconsin, learning English in kindergarten and excelling in school. He earned a degree in economics from the University of Wisconsin, built a raft and floated down the Mississippi Huck Finn style, and organized a nearly successful petition drive to recall Senator Joe McCarthy. When elected President of the class of 1955, the campus newspaper proclaimed,“Superior Man Wins.” As an active alumnus he organized and funded an award for excellence in teaching for outstanding UW professors. After graduation he served in the Navy for three years aboard the USS Yorktown in the Pacific, and later earned a Master’s degree in Public Health at the University of North Carolina. He became Assistant Dean of Men at the University of California, Berkeley, and witnessed hydrogen bombs on Bikini atolls while working for Lawrence Radiation Laboratory. In 1963 he joined the Ford Foundation and began a long and passionate career devoted to solving the world’s population problems. He joined the US Agency for International Development in 1969 as the first Deputy Director of its newly formed Office of Population. Through his work in Egypt, India, and the Philippines, Lenni was part of the pioneering group of “Poppers” who collaborated with governments of developing countries and non-governmental organizations to establish the first international family planning programs. His innovative approaches included month-long vasectomy camps in India and visits to remote villages in Luzon and Mindanao. During a second posting to Egypt, Lenni laughed off the local newspaper article branding him “The American in Your Bedrooms,” and oversaw a significant increase in the use of Egyptian family planning services. After retiring from the Senior Foreign Service in 1986, Lenni continued to work on population and HIV-AIDS prevention from the Agency’s Africa Bureau. He never fully retired, continuing his consulting activities until last year, always returning from Africa with wonderful stories and photographs. Lenni was generous, gregarious, and always optimistic. He was responsible for attracting many professionals to the field of population and supporting them in their careers. He was the author of numerous articles and papers on population and health. While still in California, Lenni married Georgia Lee Clare and in 1963 moved his young family, including daughters Tanya and Sara, to Egypt. Lenni used his overseas postings to pursue his many interests, including scuba diving and archaeological pursuits. He loved sailing on the Nile and once raced a 36′ yacht from Manila to Hong Kong. After Georgia Lee’s death in 1983, Lenni met Anna Spitzer Quandt. They were married in 1989 and bought a home in Washington, DC. Lenni and Anna adopted Peter John Kangas as an infant in 1991 in Romania. The family moved to Iowa in 2002. They owned and operated the “Revolt “ indoor skateboard park in Iowa City for two years. Lenni enjoyed telling stories, discussing politics, watching TV news, playing tennis, listening to NPR, fishing at Lake Vermillion, walking his dog Molly, drinking red wine, and watching the eagles soar over the Iowa River. Most of all, Lenni loved people. His work was his way of helping people and serving the greater good. It also allowed him to become a dashing world traveler while maintaining Midwestern values, to meet people from all walks of life, and to become friends with most of them. The little Finnish boy from northern Minnesota became a world citizen who lived by his own motto: “Bound forward, grab the world, and give it a little shake!” He is survived by his wife, Anna Quandt; his daughters Tanya Paloma Reams (Gary) and Sara Kangas (Peter Mark); his son Peter Kangas; cousins, John Kangas and Paula Wood; and many other loving relatives and friends. Contributions may be made to National Public Radio.

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Molly Gingerich

Molly Gingerich, 68, died May 24th in the loving care of her family in Albuquerque, NM, following a year-long battle with ovarian cancer.  Memorial services were held June 3rd at the Albuquerque Mennonite Church and  on June 24th at the USAID library, organized by the USAID Global Health Bureau. After attending American University for two years, Molly spent a year at the University of Grenoble in France, then graduated from Denver University.  Following a stint working with the Ford Foundation in Pakistan, she completed her master’s degree in public health at UCLA.  She began her public health career with the Center for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA) working on early Women in Management programs in the late 1970s.  Following her marriage to James Gingerich in Islamabad, Pakistan, they transferred to Indonesia.  For the next 23 years, Molly worked with USAID in public health.  She became passionate about all activities USAID funded which supported improved access to quality health services, particularly for women and children.  Throughout her career which took her from Pakistan to Indonesia, a year at Stanford University, Kenya, Nepal, USAID/Washington, and back to Indonesia as the head of the Health, Population, and Nutrition (HPN) office, Molly combined excellent technical knowledge of the programs with a rare ability to bring government, NGO and private sector partners to focus on the larger visions…for improving the health status, often of the most powerless members of these populations. Her passion for achieving Safe Motherhood goals wherever she worked became well known.  Molly and three colleagues/friends began what today is known as the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood.  That program is now an international coalition active in over 150 countries.  Its goal is to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for women and newborns.  Her work with colleagues in Kenya was a major contributor to Kenya achieving the most rapid decline in fertility during the 1990s ever recorded.  In Nepal, working with many local partners, Molly, her HPN team and trusted technical advisors, put in place a comprehensive program of vaccinations, Vitamin A distribution, clean health delivery kits, and greatly enhanced access to modern forms of contraception, which has contributed to dramatic changes in maternal and child mortality rates.  In all of these efforts, Molly aways sought to develop the abilities of national colleagues to carry on this work within their own organizations.  Despite being a desperately poor country, plagued by long-term violent political conflict, Nepal today is on track to achieve the UN Millenium Development Goal of reducing under-five deaths by two-thirds by 2015. The contributions of the USAID-supported programs during and since the 1990s has been a major contributor to this development. The Molly Gingerich Memorial Fund This award has been established at CEDPA as an endowed living testimony and memorial to the many contributions Molly made to improve Safe Motherhood.  Molly’s family, colleagues and friends from around the world have contributed to this fund.  Resources from this fund will be awarded to participants from developing countries enabling them to attend CEDPA-led training programs with a broad focus on Safe Motherhood.
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Mirinda Foti

Mirinda Susan (Massari) Foti passed away peacefully, with her beloved family by her side at her home in Naples, Fl, on December 14, 2011 after a courageous, two and a half-year battle with cancer. Mirinda was born in Ravenna, Ohio, on January 28, 1944, to Tony and Florence Massari. She is survived by her adored husband of 45 years, John, two wonderful sons, Michael J. and John A. (daughter-in-law, Samantha), as well as two cherished grandsons J.J. and Jacob. She is also survived by her caring and devoted sister Elaine Armani of Naples, FL and sister, Susan Prendergast (Thomas), of Springfield, OH, as well as sister-in-law and brother-in-law Rose and Henry Skurpski of East Syracuse, NY, and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. She was predeceased by her parents and sister Annmarie Boggs. Mirinda was a member of the United States Foreign Service (Agency for International Development), along with her husband, and together they lived and served for over thirty years in a variety of government assignments: Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Egypt, Italy, and Washington, DC. Mirinda served as an officer of the American Embassy Spouse’s Club, leading many charitable fund-raising events. While assigned to the DC office, she received USAID’s outstanding employee award for exemplary performance, selfless dedication and unique contributions to the Office of Human Resources. Raising two active boys overseas required organization and involvement. For the Metro Manila area, she helped organize the first little league baseball organization involving over twelve American and Philippine teams, thus fulfilling her love for the New York Yankees and instilling a lifelong love for baseball with her children. She was also a den mother and helped organize scouting events. In lieu of flowers, donations in Mirinda’s memory may be made to Saint Agnes Catholic Church/Debt Reduction Fund, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, FL 34120.
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Tony Schwarzwalder

Anthony M. Schwarzwalder, former Mission Director and long-time leader in international development, died February 2, after a courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease.  Tony grew up in Arlington and graduated from Washington-Lee High School.  He attended Wesleyan College for his Bachelor of Arts and John Hopkins for his Masters in Public Health.  He had a distinguished career in international relief and development, including twenty-three years with the United States Agency for Development (USAID). He began his career with USAID as a Program Officer in the Africa Bureau from 1961-66.  His first overseas assignment was as a Capital Development Officer in Jordan from 1966-68.  After a graduate fellowship at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, he served as Special Assistant to the Deputy US Coordinator for the Alliance for Progress, providing economic assistance to Latin America. In 1970, following a devastating cyclone in East Pakistan, Tony took over as Coordinator of the USAID Relief and Rehabilitation Office, working both in Islamabad and Dacca.  In 1972, he became the first Mission Director to Bangladesh, following the Bengali war for independence. Later that year he was awarded the Arthur S. Flemming Award for Government Service and Leadership. Returning to Washington DC in 1974, Tony became Director of the Office of Near East and Northern Africa Affairs and later the first Deputy Assistant Administrator in USAID’s newly created Food for Peace and Voluntary Assistance Bureau.  His last overseas post with USAID was as Mission Director in the Philippines from 1980-84. After leaving USAID, Tony worked for a number of Washington DC-based organizations focused on HIV/AIDS, including a number of years as Deputy Director of the AIDS Control and Prevention (AIDSCAP) program. Tony was at the forefront of USAID strategy development and is fondly remembered by colleagues as a visionary, leader and friend who recognized and mentored many of those who went on to lead the Agency’s work. Services will be held Thursday, February 9, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, 4444 Arlington Blvd., at 2:00 PM.  In lieu of flowers, the family suggests gifts to the Alzheimer’s Family Day Center, 2812 Old Lee Highway, Suite 210, Fairfax, Virginia 222031.  Memories, notes and photos are welcome and may be sent to Cecilia Javier, 301 N. Garfield St., Arlington, Virginia 22201 or

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Milt Freundel

Milton Freundel, 88, an administration and personnel specialist with the U.S. Agency for International Development from1961 until retiring in 1978, died March 1 at Manor Care nursing home in Bethesda.He had congestive heart failure. The death was confirmed by his daughter, Jane Freundel Levey. In addition to stints in Washington, Mr. Freundel served in Taiwan, Pakistan, Guatemala and Paraguay during his career at USAID. He was in Guatemala during a massive 1976 earthquake that claimed thousands of lives and participated in emergency assistance efforts. In retirement, Mr. Freundel was a volunteer docent with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. He also did volunteer work in Montgomery County with prisoners transitioning back into society. Milton Freundel was a New York City native and was the youngest of eight siblings. His father was a ward healer for Tammany Hall. During World War II, Mr. Freundel served in the Army in Europe. He trained in radio communications with the Signal Corps and later drove in the truck caravan known as the Red Ball Express that kept front-line units supplied with gasoline and other staples. Mr. Freundel graduated from George Washington University in 1949 and spent much of his early career as a personnel specialist with the Navy Department. He was a Washington resident. His first wife, Bernice Wolff  Freundel, died in 1993 after 45 years of marriage. A son from that marriage, Mark Freundel, died in 2009. Survivors include his wife of 18 years, Pauline Lubcher-Freundel of Washington; a daughter from his first marriage, Jane Freundel Levey of Bethesda; two  step children, Carol Minkoff of Bethesda andJeffrey Lubcher of Rockville; a sister, Shirley L. Green of Bethesda; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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Gail Goodridge

Gail Goodridge, 60, the manager of HIV/AIDS and women’s health programs at FHI 360, a nonprofit international development organization, died June 18 at Capital Caring’s Halquist Memorial Inpatient Center in Arlington County. She had cancer, said her sister Lori Stanley. Mrs. Goodridge, an Arlington resident, had worked at the Washington office of FHI 360 for the past two decades. She previously worked for five years at the U.S. Agency for International Development on projects related to women’s health and independence, micro-loans and population studies. She traveled to Nairobi as director of an HIV/AIDS program in East and Central Africa. Gail Ann Washchuck was born in Detroit. She received a bachelor’s degree in English and mass communications from Arizona State University in 1973 and a master’s degree in future studies from the University of Houston in 1978. She was a member of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Arlington, where she organized and participated in outreach programs in Africa, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. She also volunteered with the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement and Social Action Linking Together, a Catholic advocacy group in Arlington. Her husband of 18 years, Glyne Goodridge, died in 2001. Survivors include four stepdaughters, Elizabeth Malouin of Midhurst.
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Leo Pizarro

Leonel Tristan Pizarro passed away peacefully on July 10, 2012 in Woodbridge, VA from complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. Leo was born September 25, 1944 in Pueblo Hundido, Chile, to Carmen and Tristan Pizarro. He and his sister, Magda, grew up in a loving home and treasured their time riding on trains with their father Tristan, who was a railroad telephone engineer. Leo married Sue Anne Ipsen on May 20, 1972 in Clayton, CA. Leo graduated from the University of the Pacific in California where he played soccer, and later received an MBA from the Thunderbird School of International Management. He spent wonderful years with his family living overseas and working at remote construction sites as an administrator. He embraced the gypsy lifestyle, working all over Central and South America before joining the U.S. Agency for International Development. The rest of his career was spent stationed at US Embassies in Guatemala, Honduras, Egypt, El Salvador, Senegal, and Israel working on development projects with some of the neediest people in the world. People who worked for Leo loved him. He was a passionate, generous, and loving man. If there was a party, he was there, dancing up a storm and leading the charge. He adopted young single people into his family at every post, giving them a home, an advisor, and a beer. He always kept change in his pockets and car doors for anyone who asked for it, and would raid his house for items to give away. Those who knew him best enjoyed his colorful personality. His stubbornness challenged the most worthy opponents and he often bumped heads with his supervisors. He was happiest on an adventure whether it was deep sea fishing in the Red Sea, driving and branding cattle in the Mosquito Coast in Honduras, or motoring around the Sahara in a Land Cruiser in his endless search for pretty rocks to add to his several hundred pound collection. Leo’s proudest achievement was his family, and he let them all know it. He leaves behind his wife, Sue, who joined him on his adventures for so many years. He will be remembered by his four children: Fernando, Lisa, Sandra, and Nicole, and his first granddaughter, Alexis Manali. A very special mention must be made of Maria Fe Saavedra, an important member of the Pizarro family who dedicated herself to Leo’s care in his last years, giving comfort and love.
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Ragaei Abdelfattah

A U.S. government aid worker with ties to the Washington area was killed in a suicide bombing Wednesday in Afghanistan, the State Department said. Ragaei Abdelfattah — a former master planner for Prince George’s County who had come from Egypt and fallen in love with the United States — was killed in the eastern Konar province. Three coalition service members and an Afghan civilian were also killed in the attack, and a State Department diplomat was injured. Abdelfattah, 43, was on his second voluntary tour as a Foreign Service officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development, a job that took him to eastern Afghanistan to partner with local officials to establish schools and health clinics and to deliver electricity. “He felt like he was doing rewarding development work,” Abdelfattah’s wife, Angela Ruppe, said in an interview. “He spoke to me many times about the relationships he was building. It was fulfilling.” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned the attack in a statement and praised Abdelfattah’s work as “an example of the highest standards of service.” Abdelfattah was born in Giza and grew up in Cairo, where he studied architecture at Ain Shams University. He worked in urban planning and ecotourism development in Egypt and led a project for the U.N. Development Program before arriving in America shortly before Sept. 11, 2001. “He loved the bigness of it,” said Ted Koebel, an urban affairs and planning professor at Virginia Tech, where Abdelfattah spent part of the past decade pursuing a PhD. “I remember him saying he had a sense that the United States was the center of the world and that’s what he wanted to be a part of,” Koebel said. He toured the Mall, visited Disneyland with his two sons — now teenagers, according to a statement from USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah — and otherwise embraced Americana and America, becoming a naturalized citizen several years ago. “We had trips around the state where Ragaei would just want to stop at somebody’s roadside pie restaurant outside of Harrisonburg [ Va.] or on [Route] 460, coming back through the peanut farm area,” Koebel said. “He just loved everything about the United States.” That included bad chain restaurants and classic suburbia, his wife said. “I used to joke with him that he was even more American than I was.” Abdelfattah never completed his PhD at Virginia Tech. (“Expected in 2013/4,” his résumé says.) Instead, he moved to the Washington area and went to work in Prince George’s to provide for his family. He spent five years with the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission. He became a supervisor and was regarded as a rising star. County Planning Director Fern Piret on Thursday lamented “the loss of someone with so much potential.” Ivy Lewis, a division chief with the planning commission, recalled Abdelfattah as “very smart, very passionate about community development, very knowledgeable.” There was also this, she said: “He was the co-worker who would take other co-workers out to lunch just to stay in touch and get to know them better. He was really a people person who took time to get to know his co-workers.” He even met his second wife at the commission, after his first marriage ended in divorce. Colleagues thought Abdelfattah and Ruppe were just carpooling partners, driving in together from Annapolis. Then one day in 2009, they announced to the office that they had married. He had proposed by calling her into his office, showing her three dates on his Outlook calendar and telling her to pick one for their wedding. Abdelfattah, who had worked as a contractor with USAID officials in Egypt, began to talk seriously about working with the agency again. He liked the international development mission, Ruppe said. He put in for a job and was offered Afghanistan. “It’s pretty much where you have to go before you move on to other assignments,” Ruppe said. They both had safety concerns — “of course we did,” she said — but she left the decision to her husband. And he decided to go and then to go again. From afar, he followed all the news at his old office, sending emails to congratulate former colleagues on their new appointments. He told people here that he was planning to take the American Institute of Certified Planners exam in November. He had just taken a two-week vacation with Ruppe and told friends how “romantic and wonderful” it was. He sent travel photos and birthday greetings and gifts. And in December, when a Virginia Tech police officer was fatally shot on campus, he e-mailed his old professor and friend. “He said, ‘Be safe,’ ” Koebel recalled. “I said, ‘Geez, Ragaei, back atcha.’ He was obviously working in a dangerous part of the world. You obviously knew something bad could happen. You just hoped it never did.”
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