Rita Ludlum Award
Ten years ago, in 2011, our League had just lost a dynamic leader and was operating as a Committee of the Whole or COW. It was a low time. That October, Sandy Smith stopped at our voter registration table in Hinds Plaza, asked about the League, and joined immediately. By the following June she was organizing the Annual Meeting and had drafted its agenda. She had also written a “History of the Right to Vote,” and was planning to speak to West Windsor-Plainsboro North’s Advanced Placement history classes.
The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area sends condolences to the family of longtime League member and advocate Joan Bharucha, who died on May 24, 2021. Her sunny face and good nature will be deeply missed.
Anyone who met Frieda was swept up by her feisty spirit and passion to make democracy work for everyone. Born when women were just earning the right to vote, she was a lifelong advocate for both voter rights and women’s causes. A Navy veteran (she joined the WAVES in WWII), she was a leader in the Princeton NJ League for 55 years, serving two terms as president. Frieda died recently but her voice remains in all of us at the League.
Tributes to Frieda Gilvarg
From Frieda's daughter, Gail Gilvarg Nickols: It is with sadness that the family of Frieda M. Gilvarg notes her peaceful departure on October 10, 2019 at the age of 97. She was a vibrant force with a zest for life that she maintained until the end. She was both president and membership chair of LWV of Princeton. We mourn her passing and plan a memorial service in 2020
Recollections from League Members:
Jennifer Howard: I am speechless. While I know that she lived such a full life- it still seems too soon. Especially since she was her usual vibrant self at our recent meeting. She was such a champion of the League. She will be missed!
Ingrid Reed: My relationship with Frieda became much more informal as a friend and I will definitely miss her and her passion for the League. I like to think in our own ways we were paying tribute to her and saying our good byes. I hope she might have gone in her WAVE outfit.
Chrystal Schivell: As annoyed as I usually was by Frieda, I feel that my League legs have just been pulled out from under me. Until I started crying, I hadn't realized that she, like Rita, was a support for my belief in what I do for League. And today was a trial - supporting the right of a candidate to have a place in a forum. It is a coincidence for me, too. And I thank Frieda for being the stalwart that she was, as much as she pushed me beyond my endurance.
Edith Neimark: Frieda was the glue of the Princeton Chapter.
Grace Sinden: While many of us knew Frieda from her work for the League of Women Voters and were
inspired by her civic passion, I remember contacting Frieda a couple of years ago to ask for details on her mode of transit from her home. She told me that she just calls one of the car riding services on her smart phone and voila! They take her anywhere. She explained how this gave her great freedom to be at the LWVNJ annual meetings we were both attending even though she no longer drove a car. Her explanation was so joyful in reveling in this freedom “at a certain age.” Frieda's optimism and sense of “can do" was contagious and much needed in our world and League work. It helped her be more effective in that work and likely in her life in general.
Sandy Shapiro: Frieda had a long and interesting life. A tireless League booster, Frieda was responsible for enticing scores of area residents to become members. Frieda was also a dedicated member of the League in Arizona, where she spent many winters. Frieda was a force for good and will be missed. Her good deeds and enthusiasm live on. Condolences go out to her children and grandchildren, of whom she always spoke with immense love and respect.
Jeanne Turner: I met Frieda when I first joined the League at the annual dinner and was immediately impressed by her passion for and commitment to the League. I’m sorry I didn’t have the opportunity to know her better, and send my condolences to all of you who are clearly feeling her loss deeply.
Mary Ann Moxon: Such a feisty woman!
Tribute to Rita Ludlum
When Rita Ludlum passed away on Sunday, November 4, 2018, we lost a pillar of the Princeton Area League and a wonderful person. As Sandy Shapiro wrote, “We shall miss her quick wit, long memory, and kind heart.” Sandy Smith, too, said that Rita was an exceptionally kind person. “She called me after I joined our League and persuaded me to come to our next meeting and get involved. She mentored so many of our members and will be fondly remembered.” Jennifer Howard added, “Rita has enriched the lives of all those she interacted with—whether at a rally or a meeting.”Lee Forbes credits Rita as her inspiration for joining the League. “Rita worked relentlessly to organize a debate of the Montgomery candidates so that residents could hear a civil discussion of the issues before voting.”Ingrid Reed said, “I can't remember the League existing without Rita. She was always there, doing what needed to be done and in that special soft voice of reason and common sense.”Grace Sinden wrote, “I got to know her beyond her League work as a wise and kind person. Her steadfast loyalty and exceptional work for the League were a model for many members.”
Frieda Gilvarg “found her a source of knowledge and encouragement in my many years working beside her and believe she has played an essential role in preserving our League. No better tribute to her memory could be offered than to continue to keep doing what she has been doing so faithfully.”
Rita would have reciprocated—appreciating the contribution that each of us has made to the League. Her repeated “What would we do without Ellen Kemp?” was typical.
Rita never made clear exactly when she joined the League—"sometime in the '60s and they immediately asked me to take over a position" was her standard answer. Frieda believes she first joined another League before moving to Princeton. Rita was certainly active, already a pillar, when I joined in the early 70’s. Over the years she was involved in numerous studies (consolidation of the Princetons, finally accomplished), education, environment, immigration, and lots more. Rita was League president 1979-81.
Rita was probably best known around Princeton as “Mrs. Voter Service.” She was chair or co-chair of the Voter Service Committee for decades, retiring officially from that position in 2008 at the age of 84 but constantly mentoring me for the next three years. Together we set up collaborations with The Packet and Princeton Community TV. I, too terrified to manage alone in 2008, needed Rita’s calm, practical wisdom, and she willingly gave it. Whenever candidates became difficult, she laughingly reminded me of the time a candidate threatened to sue her—I would survive.
When we changed our organizational structure to that of a Committee of the Whole, Rita served as co-chair in 2008-2009 and as vice-president in 2009-2010, volunteering her apartment for our meetings.
Rita was a team player who led by example. She never told us what to do nor asked more of us than we were willing to do nor than she herself would be willing to do. But to keep the League going, she surely did more than her fair share—and without complaint. Yet when others began to lead, she was equally willing to step back and let them. She asked only to keep up with news of her beloved League via email.
For the past 45 years, Rita has played many roles in my life: mother, mentor, colleague, and friend. I treasure having known her, as do we all.
An obituary may be found on the Town Topics website.
“Standing Together” Rally to Celebrate Diversity
Nancy Hedinger, LWVNJ President, and Princeton Area members Lee Forbes and Chrystal Schivell carry a poster at the rally, held at Mercer County Community College on Sunday, May 7, 2017. Kudos to the East Windsor-Hightstown League, especially Arnold and Deborah MacMillan, for their activism in organizing this stand against racism.
Chrystal Schivell Receives Distinguished Service Award from LWV-NJ
Chrystal is the epitome of a League person—she is fair and equal to all, creating a nonpartisan political environment that earns the trust of all, especially candidates she is working with on forums or candidate debates. Her active participation in all Voter Service activities has encouraged participation of citizens in their government and we in the Princeton Area have been especially fortunate to have her enthusiasm and guidance.
Reminding People to Vote at the West Windsor Community Farmers' Market, Fall 2016
Princeton Area League members Melissa Scott and Ellen Kemp joined Lee Forbes, as members of the LWV-NJ Board of Directors. Elections were held at the League of Women Voters of New Jersey 61st Biennial Convention on May 2, 2015. Ellen will serve as the treasurer of the LWV-NJ.
Congratulations to Beverly Kestenis, the grand prize winner of an Apple iPad Air in the LWVNJ Education Fund raffle! The drawing was held on December 11, 2014. Thank you to all who contributed to this fund raiser.
November 17, 2014
Nettie Lowenstein passed away on November 16 at her home at the Stonebridge Retirement Community. A retired social worker, Netty volunteered for the American Red Cross and was active in their program of tracing families caught in the Holocaust and other international disasters. She was a hospice volunteer, chaired the Health Committee at Stonebridge, and contributed common-sense suggestions at League meetings. Chrystal Schivell remembers Netty as funny, feisty, and fiercely proud of her independence. Netty would turn down help moving chairs at a meeting because, of course, she could do it herself. But she tenderly monitored Chrystal's new lip at the League's Annual Dinner to be sure it wasn't drooling.
Frieda Gilvarg wrote, “Netty will be missed in so many places where the struggle for peace, justice and progress is being fought. There aren't many like her. Not sadly because she lived a wonderfully full life. Her energy and intelligence kept her up todate on everything until her final day.”
Linda Mather Relocates
After many years as a member of the Princeton Area LWV, Linda Mather is moving to Portland, Oregon, where she will continue offering her invaluable services to the League. We wish her much happiness and fulfillment in her new life. To read more about Linda, click here.