Middlebury Institute alumna and longtime adjunct faculty member Esther Navarro-Hall MACI ’85 passed away on Saturday, November 2 in New Mexico after a short illness.
Navarro-Hall was “a pioneer in the translation and interpretation field in the United States who was loved and respected by so many,” says her friend and colleague Laura Burian MATI ‘95, dean of the Institute’s Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation and Language Education (GSTILE).
When her native Mexico was hit with the strongest earthquake in a century last year, Navarro-Hall quickly organized a response. Her “Interpreter Brigade,” focused on coordinating assistance and directly aiding people in non-Spanish speaking areas. Using her wide network of professional connections, Navarro-Hall supported the work of indigenous language colleagues in relay mode. “As interpreters and translators, we are a vital link in the communication chain which is so essential to all aid efforts,” she told us at the time. She also said that she felt very fortunate in her life and that it gave her great joy to give back to those who could benefit from her help. When fires devastated Northern California last winter she did not wait for the call, but packed her car with supplies and offered her assistance where needed along with her husband of 28 years, David Hall.
"I knew Esther Navarro-Hall first as a student and then as a valued colleague,” shares Professor Holly Mikkelson. “Esther and I taught many classes together over the years, and she was always a joy to work with. I have unceasing admiration for her brilliance, her warm heart, and her devotion to excellence in interpreting and in teaching. I will miss Esther, but she lives on forever in memory."
Navarro-Hall’s colleagues praise her contributions to their field. Burian says she was a talented interpreter, a dedicated trainer, a devoted advocate for the interpretation profession, and a caring humanitarian. “I was thrilled to watch her travel to Mexico with Governor Brown to interpret for his visit with the Mexican President a few years ago,” Longtime colleague and friend Professor Barry Slaughter Olsen MACI ’99 says it was his “privilege to work with her in and out of the interpreting booth over the years, including teaching together at the Middlebury Institute, speaking at many of the same conferences, and starting, growing and then selling a pioneering remote interpreting company (SimulDirect). We didn’t always see eye to eye, but she always pushed me to be better at my craft and as a human being. I will always be grateful.”