That was nearly 30 years ago. Below is a list of the people I know who died. As I get information, I will provide more about each. I would love to include photographs. If you have one I can use, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The book also includes the names of students whose papers were deposited in folklore archives. I don’t have full names for two. N. Cunningham went to Michigan State in the early 1950s and collected songs from Ak-O-Mak and Girl Scouts. Smith was at Wayne State in the mid-1970s and wrote a paper about songs from the Detroit CYO girls' camp. If anyone knows their identity, please let me know so I can credit them properly.
Borden, Joseph Carlton (1909-1994)
He lived the life many campers aspired to in the early years. He was sent to Saint Paul’s prep school in New York, then on to Harvard. His camp was Rotherwood in Maine.
Peter Kraus described him as a "Scholar, Gentleman, Librarian" to the Utah Library Association in 2012.
Briscoe, Virginia Wolf (c. 1942-1997)
I met Dr. Briscoe when she was a graduate student in the University of Pennsylvania’s folklore department. Her interest was sojourner communities like women’s colleges. She shared some of her own undergraduate singing experiences at Sarah Lawrence in the 1960s.
She later became involved with the Central American Sanctuary Alliance and an on-line Ovarian Cancer Users Group. Through that group she established Camp Make-A-Dream in Montana.
Before her untimely death, she said, "In my Reform Jewish upbringing, I never learned to pray for myself. It feels selfish. I pray for the world, I pray for Israel, but not for myself.''
Clay, Seth (1910-1994)
Rev. Clay was born twenty miles from my home town in Jackson, Michigan. For years he pastored a congregation in Otsego. Western Michigan University’s library has his papers for the years between 1949 and 1976.
After he retired, he moved to Florida - a true Michigan snowbird.
His name appears on the web in peoples' descriptions of weddings and funerals, the day-to-day work of a small-town Congregational minister.
DeWitt, Marsha Lynn Barker (1952-2010)
Misty answered my questionnaire in 1976 when she was working at a Michigan Girl Scout camp, The Timbers. She took the time, line by line, to define which songs were and were not sung in camps. Her comments quoted in the book help delineate an aesthetic found in Midwestern girls’ camps.
She later moved to California where she worked for Weyerhaeuser. She married, and had a daughter, Sarah. In 2001 she returned to work for the Central Coast Camp Fire council that served Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
Duff, Charlotte A. (1926-2011)
Char graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1948 where she was a member of the Outing Club. Her freshman and sophomore years she worked at Joy Camps in Wisconsin. The summers after her junior and senior years she was at Michigan’s Chippewa Trail.
She began teaching physical education in high school and worked at Wabanaki in 1949 and 1950.
She arrived at Albion College in 1956, armed with her new master’s from the University of Michigan. She was a founding member of the Michigan College Field Hockey Association. The teams she coached consistently won.
Mary Ann Egnatuk remembers, "Her coaching style was one of patience, and we were willing to run through brick walls for her."
Dunn, Josephine (1896-1967)
Jo is one of the unnamed people who appear in the background of photographs in the book.
She was raised in Fort Collins, Colorado, and earned her bachelors from Oberlin College in 1920. In 1929, she joined the physical education faculty at Albion College, where she remained until she retired.
While in Albion, she became one of those invisible people who make an organization like Camp Fire flourish in a small town. Someone has to handle logistics for a birthday celebration held in the college gym. Someone has to recruit group leaders. Someone has to attend regional training meetings. She is in the picture with Lucille Munk at the annual CFG grand council fire in the early 1950s.
Hickerson, Lynn Russell (1943-2011)
Lynn grew up in an extraordinary family in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Her father battled the House Un-American Activities Committee all the way to the Supreme Court, and won.
She played flute and spent her summers at Meadowlark, a Maine arts camp. She graduated from Indiana University in 1965 where she studied music.
Later she fought to preserve the tall ships and lighthouses. She became a family therapist because she "wanted to prevent needless suffering."
Huggett, Aleta Mae (1929-2016)
Aleta was one of Richard Dorson’s students at Michigan State in the early 1950s. I mentioned a number of the songs she gave him from Lake Louise, the Michigan Methodist camp. She also had an early version of "Inty Tinky Spider" from Appleblossam.
By coincidence, she was born in Battle Creek and was a cousin of the woman whose picture appears on the book’s cover. Her father was a agricultural extension county agent, and she had been a Girl Scout.
After college, she married Robert Asa Smith. Together they raised five children while he was moving about as an engineer. They finally settled in Midland, where she was active in a local quilters’ group and in church rummage sales.
Katzenbach, Maude (1921-2013)
Maude Katzenbach was involved with Camp Fire in the Washington DC area for 25 years. Her council ran Mawavi. Her obituary describes her as "a woman of great strength, wisdom, patience, and exceptional warmth."
Lapham, Angela Ann (1953-2013)
Konker was raised in Florida, but did her undergraduate work at Central Michigan University in Recreation and Psychology. During her summers in college she worked at Oak Hills (Mich GS) in 1972 and 1974 and Merrie Woode (Mich GS) in 1973.
The summer she graduated, 1975, she worked at Tweedale (Penna GS). When she answered my questionnaire in 1976 she was at Sherwood (Va GS) and running the Fairfax County After School Care Program. She later returned to Florida where she worked for the Healthier Florida State Program.
Latvala, Roberta Tupper (1923 - 2004)
She was from Galesburg, Illinois, where she went to church camps.
She graduated from the University of Minnesota and earned her master’s from Knox College in 1944. James Harvey Young, of Knox, used a paper she wrote for his history class for his own article on "Land Hunting in 1836," published by the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society in 1952.
She later took a folklore class from Richard Dorson at Michigan State.
Lutz, Anne (1906-1996)
She was one of the most enthusiastic contributors to this project. She said she learned "The Titanic" at Earlham College in the 1920s.
More important, she said, she collected a version "from an old reprobate in 1940's near Bear Mountain, NY."
The man was probably Everett Pitt (1886-1954). Years later she released a tape of his singing through Marimac Records that brought kudos from the American Folklife Center in Washington and the New Jersey Folklife Festival.
Lux, Elizabeth Stavrum (1922-2010)
I must have made contact with Buzz through Jo Weber, the director of Camp Hiwela. When I went on-line to confirm the spelling of her maiden name, I discovered she was one of those extraordinary women we took for granted in the 1950s.
She was raised in Oconomowoc and Oshkosh, Wisconsin. As soon as her parents allowed, which was right after graduation from the University of Wisconsin, she joined the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots. In 1943, she was an engineering test pilot in Alabama. After the war she married, and assumed the camouflage of Air Force wife.
After her husband died, she studied interior design at the University of Maryland.
Lytle, Beatrice Leola (1900-1992)
She was raised in the oil fields of Oklahoma with five brothers and graduated from the University of Texas.
Her first job was teaching physical education in Beaumont, Texas. In the summers she was a counselor at Waldemar, a private girls’ camp near Kerrville, Texas. The photograph is from those years.
In 1937, she was on the staff of the newly opened Stephen F. Austin high school in Houston. She used his Scots background to organize a girls’ drill team that wore tartans. Soon they were playing bagpipes, drums and bugles. The book gives examples of traditions girls in the Scottish Brigade took to Girl Scout camps.
Majerczak, Rosella (1929-2012)
Rosie answered my questionnaire in 1976 from the Red Raider Camp, near Cleveland, Ohio. She was a counselor there for 25 years. Her obituary says, "loved spending time outdoors hiking and camping."
She was raised in Martins Ferry on the Ohio river, where she came of age in the Ogelbay Nature Camp near Wheeling, West Virginia, from 1943 to 1948. In 1946 and 1947 she also went to the Ogelbay Mountain Nature camp near Terra Alta.
After she earned her bachelor’s degree from West Liberty State College in West Virginia, she spent 25 winters teaching in the Wooster, Ohio city schools. She remained active in the Terra Alta Civic Club.
Millis, Fred Hannum (1928-1996)
He graduated from Michigan State in 1951 with a degree in history. While there he took a class from Richard Dorson, who saved his students’ papers. When Dorson moved to Indiana University to chair the folklore department, he placed the MSU papers in the IU archive. And so Fred, and many others I never met in Michigan, made important contributions to the project.
Fred was an insurance agent from Pontiac with the typical Michigan lust for the outdoors. He built a hunting and fishing camp on the Cass River near Cass City where he spent as much time as he could.
Munk, Lucille Parker (1902-1991)
She wasn’t the reason I joined Camp Fire. My mother had been a Blue Bird leader before I was old enough to join.
She wasn’t the reason I went to Kitanniwa. My mother was sent brochures to pass to the girls in her group. I snuck through admissions when I was too young.
She simply embodied all that was good about Camp Fire.
The thing I remember most was the Indian gown she wore for council fires. The camp craft beads had been hand carved somewhere in eastern Europe. Our plainer, machine-made wood substitutes came to symbolize how much more impoverished our lives were in the 1950s, even though we had more money than she had in the 1930s.
The photograph is from 1930 when she was teaching at Lakeview High School. The yearbook was dedicated to her that year. The photograph in the book is one of her 1929 CFG group in Lakeview. The girls in the first row were: Ruth Reynolds, M. Cline, Dorothy Pyatte, Geraldine Stanfield, Lena Stanfield, and Alice Lester. Second row: Frances Ecklund, I. Cornwall, Vera Smith, Elinor Littlefield, Beatrice Elwell, L. Fridley, Grace Eblinger, and M. Kidder.
Pearse, Jack (1926-2013)
He loved music. He made three records of camp songs.
He loved sports. He coached the golf team at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.
Most of all, he loved camp life. It began when he was three-years-old and his parents volunteered at Kitchikewana on Beausoleil Island in Georgian Bay. He directed On-da-da-Waks and one run by the YMCA in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Then, in 1961, he founded his own, Tawingo.
His philosophy was simple. He told Mary Albino of the Toronto Star, "If a person feels like they matter, and that you believe in them, the learning comes."
Poulter, Ruth Mack (1928-2006)
Rusty was a kindergarten teacher with a 1949 bachelor’s degree from Oberlin and a masters in counseling from Stanford. Her husband, Glenn, was a geologist. In 1963 they were sent to Libya.
They fled to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in 1966 where they opened a private camp.
Her obituary noted, "Rusty loved music. She studied, taught and performed vocally throughout her life. Rusty's vocal repertoire ranged from singing at a Maraciabo night club to supplement her teaching income while in Venezuela, to singing the part of the Sorcerer in the Opera Dido and Aneas on the stage of the Roman ruins at Sabratha, in Tripoli, Libya, to leading camp songs after every dinner meal at the Bear Pole Ranch summer camp for more than 20 years."
Prentice, Patricia Anne (1942-2013)
Pat was the boating counselor at Hiwela, the Oshkosh CFG camp in Wisconsin, in 1963. The last time I saw her was on a dock in Muskegon where she had taken me sailing.
She graduated from Western Michigan University, then taught English in Berrien Springs, Kinde, and Muskgeon until she retired.
Randels, Katherine Alice Redner (1916-2008)
Kay was a fervent supporter of Kitanniwa and Camp Fire.
She was orphaned as a child and adopted by a family in Lakeview, a suburb of Battle Creek. When she graduated from high school, the National Campfire Girls Association gave her a scholarship to study art at Mills College.
After she returned to Lakeview and married, she created murals for the county building and Battle Creek’s Willard Library.
She made sure her daughters, Sarah (1944-1993) and Susan (1946-2001) went to Kitanniwa. Sally, as we knew her, was younger than I, but in 1959 we overlapped in the senior unit. She’s the girl on the right in the second photograph at the right. Susan worked as a counselor at both Kitanniwa and Interlochen.
Rigoni, Frances (1931-2010)
Frankie answered my 1976 questionnaire for Cielo, a California Camp Fire camp, where she was the cook and caretaker. Earlier she had been at the Santa Barbara County Music Camp, and the Santa Barbara County Outdoor Education School.
Sexton, Vivian Lee (1904-2003)
She was so excited about my project she not only wrote copious notes on the questionnaire, but also typed a list of all the songs she remembered singing in Texas Camp Fire camps.
She provided no information about herself, and outlived any who knew her in her camping years.
Sievert, Carol Parsons (1927-1992)
Carol loved Kitanniwa. The book contains many of her memories from the late 1930s and early 1940s.
She was determined it would survive the 1970s, even after lightening destroyed the main lodge in 1974.
When I contacted her about my camp song project, I was sucked into a tornado. There was no question. Of course, I would drive north from Ohio to visit the camp.
Of course, I would tape kids singing after meals. She arranged for the counselors to sing for me. I suspect, she dropped so many hints people sought me out to talk about this camp in recent years, and their experiences singing in other camps.
Of course, I would write a book. Without her, it would have been very different, much duller.
Simrod Friedman, Sheila (1943-1993)
Sheila was one of those effervescent graces that flit through life, never standing still, but changing everyone she touches.
When she answered by questionnaire in 1976, she had married and was designing clothes. Her husband used the money earned from his law practice to buy modern art, especially the work of Roy Lichtenstein. When she attended openings, she often dressed like a painting.
She died some years ago, before she was 50, from complications of diabetes.
In 1994, the Momentum Dance Company of Miami staged "Requiem" to honor three women who had contributed to the company. She had designed costumes for one of their works. The company said the work, "explores the comfort and support found in a close community of women."
Smith, Kathleen (1943-2013)
Kitty was at Kitanniwa from the late 1950s through 1970s. She was an elementary school teacher in Battle Creek and worked with Blue Birds. When I met her in 1974, she was cooking meals for the camp in an improvised kitchen after the camp lodge had burned. She was a wealth of information on songs in those years, especially those that appealed to the youngest girls.
Swineford, Polly (1919-2009)
Polly led three lives. The years before I knew her, the years she lived in my hometown, and the later years when the family moved to Arizona.
The only thing I knew about her past, when I was a child, was that she had been a Girl Scout. All I know now is she was born Beulah Palmera Robeson in Cleveland.
I always envied the girls in her CFG group. In the middle-1950s, she had them tie-die fabric for the covers of their memory books. That was at least ten years before the Hippies and flower children.
There are two things I learned from her at Tanawida, the local CFG day camp. She had people make sit-upons from some kind of thin plastic. They are probably the reason I sit on a garbage bag or a piece of cardboard when I work in the yard. They protect me from weed seeds, buried prickly pear parts, and black carpenter ants.
She also made me aware of the dangers of fire. She always made sure we had a solid ring of rocks around our cook fires, lest we set fire to the buried peat. If you look at the cook fire pictures on the Home Page you can see she had reason to nag. We used rocks, but weren't careful about clearing the immediate area,
When I first moved to New Mexico and needed to burn weeds, I built a burn circle. A man with a backhoe saw it as target practice and wiped it out. Now, I always burn in my gravel drive way. Unlike my neighbors, who burn in their fields, I still heed Polly’s advice.
By chance I have pictures of her and her younger daughter, Janet, who died in 2002. Neither is very clear; each was in the background of some event at Tanawida in 1959. She’s the middle woman in the group of three.
Weber, Josephine (1909-1998)
Don Lewis remembers Jo "was director of Camp Hiwela for many years in the 1950s and ’60s and she often told of how Ma and Pa Lewis would be preparing all the meals for the whole camp on an outdoor cookstove. She remembered seeing Ma laboring over the stove in the rain, with Pa standing guard duty next to her, holding an umbrella to help keep the cook dry."
Don lived next to the camp on the shores of Round Lake, near Wild Rose, Wisconsin. He later married Jo's daughter. His father-in-law, Clarence, was a music therapist.
Weikart, David P. (1931-2003)
Dave grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, and graduated from Oberlin. While he was in college, he worked at Cory, a New York YMCA camp. When he returned from the Marines, he started working on an advanced degree in psychology from the University of Michigan. He supported himself with part-time work as a school psychologist in Ypsilanti.
He was soon working full-time in Ypsilanti, where he and others developed a preschool program for children at risk. In 1963, he and his wife, the former Phyllis Saxton, founded High/Scope camp. The next year he was awarded his doctorate.
He also spent a year at Interlochen, four years at Rising Sun, and a couple years doing maintenance for girls’ camps.
West, Dorothy (1917-2002)
Campers know nothing, or almost nothing about the women who run their camps.
I remember hearing Miss Dode was a dietitian. The place I saw her the most, outside the camp routine, was in the kitchen. I was never sure if any of that was true. Legends do flourish in camps.
Her obituary says that, after she left Kitanniwa and the Battle Creek CFG office, she returned to South Bend, Indiana, where she worked in "food service" for Penn-Harris-Madison Corporation. It also remarked that memorial contributions should be made to the American Diabetes Association.
That brought back memories of camp food. Even then I was aware our diet was wholesome, not dominated by cheap starches that are routine in other places.
The one oddity was dill pickles. They seemed to be served in a small dish every evening. Someone later told me the reason was, when Miss Dode took over, she found the pantry filled with bottles of pickles. Apparently, whoever procured food before her had a crush on the pickle salesman.
The photograph is from 1955. Shipwreck Day began with girls coming to breakfast in their night clothes.
Wilfred, Adele (1927-1990)
She was raised in Metropolis, Illinois, on the banks of the Ohio River, where she went to church and Girl Scout camps. In 1949, she graduated from Tulsa University where she pledged Chi Omega.
Her Camp Fire career began at Ruth Lee in Louisiana in 1950 where she was the assistant director. She moved on to Caniya in San Francisco as Director in 1952. After several years at Ohio’s Kiloqua, she became director of Glen in Findlay, Ohio, in 1959.
She stayed there til she retired. There’s a camp fire between the birth and death dates on her tombstone.
Photograph from 1949.
Photograph of Sheila by Iran Issa-Khan from The Art Museum at Florida International University's Sheila Natasha Simrod Friedman. Pictures of Beatrice Lytle, Lucille Munk, and Adele Wilfred from yearbooks published by Beaumont High School, Lakeview High School, and Tulsa University.