Carol Rifelj, 1946-2010

Carol Rifelj, Jean Thompson Fulton Professor Emerita of French, died October 26, 2010, at home with her family, after a courageous four-year battle with cancer. Few colleagues have made a more substantial mark on the faculty and Middlebury College than Carol, and she is deeply missed by many in the community.

Carol Dobay Rifelj received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She came to Middlebury in 1972 as an Assistant Professor, serving also at that time as Director of the Château, and of the French House. Carol received tenure in 1979, was promoted to the rank of Full Professor in 1985, and was named Jean Thomson Fulton Professor of French in 1993. She retired from Middlebury in spring 2010 after 38 years on the faculty.

Carol was both a gifted teacher and a distinguished scholar. In French language and literature courses at all levels, Carol’s passion, intellect, and knowledge of her subject won great praise from students, and many colleagues in the French department and elsewhere in the College benefited from her mentoring in developing their own teaching.

In addition to numerous articles or essays on topics as varied as 18th, 19th, and 20th-century literature, the use of technology in the language or literature classroom, and the mystery novel, Carol was the author of several books. She co-authored, with Ed Knox, the conversation manual C’est-à-dire, published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in 1980. Her book, Word and Figure: The Language of 19th-Century French Poetry, was published in 1987 by the Ohio State University Press, and Reading the Other: Novels and the Problem of Other Minds appeared in 1992 from the University of Michigan Press. Her most recent book, Coiffures: Hair in 19th-Century French Literature and Culture, was published in May 2010 by the University of Delaware Press.

Carol was also active and innovative in electronic publication, producing a significant website, Le Lexique, that won a prize in 1996 from the American Association of Teachers of French and has continued to be an influential resource for French teachers worldwide.

Carol received many highly competitive grants and awards, including a post-doctoral fellowship at the School of Criticism and Theory, an NEH Fellowship in Residence for College Teachers at Yale, and an ACLS Fellowship.

During her time on the faculty, Carol served on all of the College’s major committees, including the Promotions Committee, the Educational Affairs Committee, Faculty Council, and the Curriculum Committee. She was also appointed to several key ad hoc committees, including the Library Planning Committee, the Bicentennial Committee, and a Presidential Search Committee. She also held several administrative positions over the years, serving as Dean of the French School from 1985 to 1987, Dean of the Faculty from 1991 to 1993, and as the Dean for Faculty Development and Research when that position was newly created and appointed at the start of my own presidency in 2004. Carol brought all of her talents and years of experience to bear in her service in this last role. As Dean of Faculty Development and Research, she was an unstinting supporter, advocate, and mentor of a new generation of faculty colleagues, and I know she took great pride in the accomplishments of junior colleagues that she helped to hire and support.

James Harvey Watson, 1919-2020

James Harvey Watson, 100, of Woodstock and Stuart, Florida, passed away peacefully on October 13, 2020 after a full and eventful life. Born December 18, 1919 in Meriden, NH, he was the son of Matthew Harvey and Addie Mae (Rogers) Watson. He graduated from Woodstock High School in 1938, where he excelled at baseball and at ski racing (slalom, cross country and ski jumping). He raced in the US Nationals at Sun Valley, Idaho in 1939 where he was also the skiing stunt double for Milton Berle in the first ski movie “Sun Valley Serenade”.

After graduating from the Pan American Flight School, Harvey flew Sikorsky Twin Engine float planes to Havana and the Bahamas prior to WW ll. He joined the US Army Air Corps and flew 65 combat missions in North Africa and Europe. He remained in the USAF Reserves serving as a flight instructor in the Air National Guard and an officer in the Strategic Air Command, retiring as a highly decorated Lieutenant Colonel in 1968. He returned to the family farm in Taftsville after the war before becoming Postmaster and operating a general store and Vermont products mail order business, until retiring in 1983.

Harvey was a dedicated family man. He was predeceased by his first wife of 38 years, Pearl G. (Taylor) Watson in 1981. He married Lois E. (Behrman) Watson on February 8, 1984 and they enjoyed a wonderful life in Vermont and Florida and traveled the world together. He was predeceased by a daughter Margaret Mae Wilcox in 1999 and his sisters Greta Hewlett and Emma Vail. He is survived by his wife of 36 years, a daughter Susan E. Moore (James) of Concord, MA and two sons, James H. Watson Jr. (Joan) of Rutland, VT and Richard M. Watson of Simsbury, CT. He was blessed with 11 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.

Active in the community, Harvey served on the Woodstock School Board, the Planning Commission and as a member of the Woodstock (Rockefeller) Foundation for many years. He was a Paul Harris Fellow in the Woodstock Rotary, a member of the American Legion and the oldest living member of the Woodstock Masonic Lodge. His many interests included golf, hunting, fishing, dancing and he mowed his own lawn to within six weeks of passing.

An avid golfer, Harvey won the Vermont Senior Amateur and competed in the USGA National Senior Amateur. Harvey and Lois played on the People to People American International Golf Team sponsored by the US State Department with delegations to South Africa, Europe and Asia.

Harvey was Lois’s co-pilot as she flew them throughout North America and the Caribbean. Together they founded the Eig Watson School of Aviation located at the Homestead campus of Miami Dade College in Florida, which now offers 12 academic degrees in the aviation industry. Their initial interest was in providing flying time — pilot hours for aspiring commercial pilots.

Due to COVID-19 there will be no calling hours. A private family burial will be held at the Taftsville Cemetery at the convenience of the family. Memorial contributions may be made to the Thompson Senior Center, 99 Senior Lane Woodstock, VT 05091 or to an organization of your choosing.