In Memoriam

Vice President for Human Resources Caitlin Goss sent the following message to the Middlebury community on May 13.

Dear Faculty and Staff,

I write with the sad news that Jennifer Nelson, former staff member and wife of Paul Nelson, professor emeritus of Political Science, died on April 24 at Porter Hospital in Middlebury. 

Jennifer was born on July 31, 1941, in the Hyde Park area of Chicago and grew up southwest of the city in the Illinois town of Midlothian. She met Paul when she was an undergraduate and he was a graduate student at the University of Chicago. They moved to Middlebury in 1963 after Paul accepted a teaching position at the College. She later attended Smith College as a member of the Ada Comstock Scholars Program, which enables women of nontraditional college age to complete a bachelor of arts degree. Jennifer majored in art history and graduated from Smith in 1991.

Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer worked in the College’s Geography and Psychology Departments and for the Music Library. She also served as a research assistant for the Committee on Art in Public Places from 1996 to 1999 and for the History of Art and Architecture Department from 2000 to 2001. From 1998 to 2005, she and her husband Paul served as co-faculty heads of Brainerd Commons.

Stephen and Emmie Donadio, former co-faculty heads of Atwater Commons, have fond memories of Jennifer. Stephen, the Fulton Professor Emeritus of Humanities, remembers Jennifer as “a fiercely intelligent and gloriously independent spirit, and one whose unfailing good humor and sensitivity to others served as a model for all who were fortunate enough to have known her.” 

Emmie, chief curator emerita of the Museum of Art, said, “Among Jennifer’s many interests was the history of art in all eras, to which she never ceased to devote sustained attention. With her husband, Paul, Jennifer served memorably for years as a Commons Head, residing in McKinley House, and her delicious wit and vivid, warm, and welcoming presence instantly created a vibrant intellectual community with a heart. She will be deeply missed.”

Jennifer was an active member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Middlebury, where she had served in a number of roles, including chair of the annual Peasant Market, editor of the church newsletter, and member of the committee that oversaw the design and construction of an additional church wing in the 1990s.

She is survived by her husband, Paul; son Theodore, Theodore’s wife Ixi, their son Max, and his sons Milo and Wesley; daughter Margaret Walters, Margaret’s husband John, and their children Edward, James, and Caroline; and sister-in-law Stella Gilman.

A memorial service for Jennifer will be held at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Middlebury on June 4 at 2 p.m.

Memorial gifts may be sent to Homeward Bound (Addison County’s Humane Society), or to Addison County Home Health & Hospice.


Caitlin Goss

Vice President for Human Resources and Chief People Officer