katrelya Angus portraitKatrelya Ann Angus ’84
English Literature

Scholar and community activist Katrelya Ann Angus passed away last August. She was 62. A lifelong resident of Sierra Madre, California, Angus was a critic and lecturer on the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Her work was featured in a variety of publications and websites, including TheOneRing.net and Mythlore: A Journal of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Mythopoeic Literature. She was also a belly dancer who performed at public events, including Sierra Madre’s annual July Fourth parade.

An English major at Pitzer College, Angus was involved in volunteer work relating to nature and saving wildlife. She was also vocal at city board meetings and in the editorial pages of local newspapers in support of environmental issues, including clean water and water conservation.


robert atwell portraitRobert H. Atwell
President, Pitzer College

Robert (Bob) H. Atwell, who succeeded John W. Atherton to lead Pitzer College as its second president, passed away last October. He was 92.

During more than 40 years in higher education, Atwell was hailed as a leader who recognized the value of the student educational and cocurricular experience.

He served as vice chancellor for administration of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, before assuming the Pitzer presidency in 1970, and he was instrumental in the College’s growth and development. Drawing on his experience in budget analysis while previously working for the U.S. Bureau of the Budget and in organizing mental health centers for the National Institute of Mental Health, Atwell blended expertise on budgetary matters with a progressive vision for Pitzer to occupy a place at the forefront of social reform.

During his eight-year tenure at Pitzer, Atwell reinforced and expanded the College’s approach to innovative instruction, work-study experiences, experimentation, interdisciplinary learning, and social outreach. Immediately following his time at Pitzer, he went on to work for the American Council of Education in Washington, D.C., and served as the council’s president for 12 years. Atwell was an advocate for higher education throughout his career, building coalitions across public, private, religious, and secular schools to promote better outcomes for students of all backgrounds. He was a nationally recognized and admired leader in higher education and received 17 honorary degrees.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Wooster College in Wooster, Ohio, and a master’s in public administration from the University of Minnesota.

A private memorial service was held last fall in Sarasota, Florida; and his family is planning another memorial service in his honor to be held this summer in Wisconsin.

jesse lopez portraitJesse Lopez ’24
Physics

A beloved student who forged friendships across The Claremont Colleges, Jesse Lopez ’24 passed away on campus last October. He was 22. Born in Aspen, Colorado, Lopez attended Pitzer College to study physics and was the recipient of a prestigious scholarship from the Daniels Fund, which awards high-achieving students in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico.

Lopez overcame personal tragedy as a young teen when his parents were shot and killed by a relative in 2014. A 2019 profile in the Aspen Times describes the shattering, life-altering impact of their deaths on him and his older brother, Eliseo, and how the Aspen community rallied behind Lopez to support his academic aspirations. He was involved with a variety of organizations at Pitzer and The Claremont Colleges, including FirstGen, Latinx Student Union, ROTC, Gold Student Center, and ballroom dancing (he competed in waltz and tango competitions at UC San Diego, among other competitions).

During a memorial service last fall, faculty and friends described him as personable, hardworking, caring, friendly, welcoming, and possessing a good sense of humor. Pitzer’s Latinx Student Union also created a community altar in the Gold Student Center’s Dolores Huerta room, and students wrote messages and memories about Lopez on notecards to place at the altar. His cousin, Amy Amaya, thanked the Pitzer community at the service for its love and support. She recalled her cousin’s warmth and humor and the impact he made on her life. “His laughter could fill the room,” she said. “He was my beacon of light leading me home whenever I was lost.”

Lopez is survived by his brother, Eliseo Mauricio Lopez; his aunt, Blanca Edith Argueta Amaya; his uncle, Jose Antonio Amaya Lopez; and his cousin, Amy Amaya.

carolyn bergson obrien portraitCarolyn Bergson O’Brien ’71
Psychology

Carolyn O’Brien passed away last October in North Carolina. She was 74. O’Brien was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and studied psychology at Pitzer College. As an undergraduate, she met her future husband, Ralph, a student at Claremont McKenna College (which was then Claremont Men’s College). In 1981, she earned her master’s degree in educational program evaluation from the University of Virginia.

O’Brien’s interest in education evaluation led to serving as a research assistant for a major longitudinal experiment in early child education, a study that continues as the Carolina Abecedarian Project. An avid fan of the UVA men’s basketball team, she continued to work in education and health studies until retiring in 2014.

susan patron portraitSusan Patron ’69
English Literature

Acclaimed children’s author Susan Patron died last October in Los Angeles. She was 75. Patron was a distinguished children’s librarian and champion of intellectual freedom best known for her Newbery Medal-winning novel, The Higher Power of Lucky.

Born in San Gabriel, Calif., she later told interviewers how she knew as a child that she wanted to be a writer. As a Pitzer College student, Patron spent her junior year abroad at Dublin’s Trinity College, where she sharpened her listening-for-stories skills. She recalled being surrounded by “gowned professors as well as the cab drivers, the children, and the pub orators—the best extemporaneous talkers in the world.”

After graduation, she married René Patron, a rare-book restorer, and earned a Master of Library Science. She was then hired as children’s librarian by the Los Angeles Public Library. She authored four picture books and five novels for middle-grade readers.

elizabeth russel portraitElizabeth Russell ’74
English Literature

Health-care executive Elizabeth Russell passed away last fall after battling esophageal cancer. She was 72. Born in Pasadena, she grew up in La Cañada, Calif., and attended Westridge School for Girls. At Pitzer College, she studied English literature and earned an MBA at USC. She spent her career in health management and focused on contract negotiation and strategic network development.

Russell moved into senior management roles at Healthcare Partners Medical Group, Heritage Provider Group, and Scan Health Plan, where she served as the president and CEO of Scan Health Plan of Arizona. The last four years of her work were spent starting a new company, Agilon Health, which was aligned with her beliefs in rethinking care for seniors. She was a trustee of Westridge School for Girls and co-founder of the Westridge Forever Fund, an endowment to create equitable financial assistance for students.

al Schwartz portraitAl Schwartz
Professor Emeritus, Sociology

A professor emeritus and former dean who helped expand academic opportunities for students, Al (Albert) Schwartz passed away last December. He was 90.

Born in 1933 in the South Bronx, Schwartz joined the Pitzer College faculty in 1965 and was the first sociologist hired by the College. Over the course of 32 years at Pitzer, Schwartz served as dean of faculty from 1971 to 1977, dean of students from 1977 to 1978, and special assistant to the president from 1982 to 1983.

Schwartz earned his bachelor’s degree from Hunter College and went on to receive a master’s from Ohio State University, where he met and married Suzanne Connett. As one of the College’s first faculty members, he described his early days at Pitzer as “heady times, the first six or seven years. We were trying to create an institution that reflected the ideals of the people who came together at that time. Our good fortune was that we had the human resources to build a community.” At Pitzer he also met his second wife, Jill Benton, a Pitzer professor of literature, and they married in 1988.

Schwartz was an important advocate for the New Resources Program, which was founded under his name to make the college experience available to nontraditional-aged students. He established a scholarship in support of the program. Throughout his years of scholarship and teaching, Schwartz continued to serve as a popular commentator for the media on the sociology of Super Bowl viewing and other favorite American pastimes. His areas of expertise included construction of social and personal realities, crowds and fads, sports, and deviance.

In 1993 Schwartz played a key role in the founding of Miyazaki International University on the Japanese Island of Kyushu. As academic president and dean of faculty, he designed the entire curriculum, hired its first-year faculty, and led the enterprise through a challenging federal accreditation process conducted by the Japanese Ministry of Education.

Schwartz is survived by his wife, Jill; his son, Aaron; his step children, Kate Nyce Tandon and Chris Nyce, and a large extended family. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Pitzer College in support of the New Resources Scholarship Fund in memory of Al Schwartz.

marvin steindler portraitMarvin Steindler ’76
Philosophy

Calabasas Style Magazine Chief Photographer Marvin Steindler passed away last fall. He was 68. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he studied philosophy at Pitzer College before starting as a portrait studio photographer and building a career in portraiture, weddings, events, and residential and commercial photography projects.

Of his craft Steindler said: “To create a poignant portrait, it surpasses aesthetics, visual language, and technicalities … For me, it’s about leaving an indelible mark on people’s lives during significant moments.”

For years, Steindler had a successful photography career in Los Angeles before moving with his wife, Linda, to the Conejo Valley. In 2012, he started as staff photographer for Calabasas Style Magazine and produced its signature cover family photos for the next 11 years.

The magazine’s editors paid tribute to Steindler, stating that “every job was a fresh creative challenge, and his passion never waned over the 47 years that he worked in this field.”