In Memoriam: 1970s
Phyllis Jean Bott Steele (Educ ’70 CM) of Winchester, Virginia, died Jan. 18, 2021. A native of Baker, West Virginia, she graduated from Shepherd University in 1959 and went on to receive her master’s degree from UVA. She taught phys ed and driver’s education at James Wood High School for 33 years and sponsored the cheerleading squad for 27 years. The first woman inducted into the James Wood Athletic Hall of Fame, Ms. Steele was named State Teacher of the Year in 1988. Active in her community, she served as president of the Frederick County Retired Teacher Association and the Winchester Lioness Club, and she was on the board of directors of Winchester’s American Red Cross. Active in local garden clubs, she served 14 years on the board for the Federation of Virginia Garden Clubs and was also on the board of the National Garden Clubs of America. Ms. Steele was honored to be national chair of the Smokey Bear Contest. Survivors include her husband, Colin; two stepchildren, Colin and Calvert; and two grandchildren.
Nancy Anne Forbes (Col ’74) of Fairfax, Virginia, died Jan. 16, 2021. She was a member of UVA’s first coed class, receiving a bachelor’s, magna cum laude, in Spanish. Although her first passion was literature, and she went on to earn a master’s in Spanish literature from New York University in 1976, she later discovered her love of physics. She then earned a bachelor’s and master’s in that field from Columbia University. Ms. Forbes had a long career in government and intelligence, working in science and technology analysis and policy. She received an Exceptional Performance Award during her time with the Central Intelligence Agency. Most recently, she was employed by SAIC as senior principal systems engineer. She published two books: Imitation of Life: How Biology Is Inspiring Computing and, with Basil Mahon, Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field. She founded an informal dinner gathering to discuss national security topics at the Washington, D.C., Cosmos Club and originated their Burns Night Dinner to honor the Scottish poet Robert Burns. Ms. Forbes was a longtime member of the Association for Women in Science and mentored women in the earlier stages of their careers. She was recently appointed to the Alumni Association Board of Directors of Columbia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Survivors include her sister and many cousins and friends.
Robert Arthur Rankin (Grad ’74 CM), of Wilmington, North Carolina, died Feb. 24, 2021. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Randolph-Macon College before receiving his master’s from UVA. Mr. Rankin was a successful newspaper journalist for 40 years. He shared a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 1983 as a member of The Miami Herald editorial board. He was lead writer of a yearlong Pulitzer-winning series of editorials that challenged the Reagan administration’s inhumane treatment of Haitian refugees in South Florida. He also won state, regional and national journalism prizes with The Richmond News Leader, Congressional Quarterly, Philadelphia Inquirer and Knight-Ridder Newspapers. Mr. Rankin was Knight-Ridder’s national economics correspondent for five years and its senior White House correspondent covering the Clinton presidency for more than five years. Knight-Ridder editors nominated his writing for a Pulitzer Prize five times, and from 2000 to 2006, he was the organization’s Washington bureau news editor overseeing coverage of the White House, Congress, politics, elections and economics. Survivors include his son, Benjamin John Rankin (Col ’06 CM); two granddaughters; and a brother.
Louise Elizabeth “Betty” Ashton Levey (Educ ’75 CM) of Raleigh, North Carolina, died Feb. 15, 2021. She graduated from Willimantic State Teachers College (now Eastern Connecticut State University) in 1951, the beginning of a lifelong dedication to teaching and education. She lived around the world with her family, including the Philippines and Hong Kong, before her husband died in 1961. She resumed teaching in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and went on to earn a master’s degree in special education from East Carolina University, where she joined the faculty in the School of Education. She received her doctorate from UVA, specializing in learning disabilities. She loved helping teachers learn how to help children who might have different learning styles from the standard methods. Dr. Levey retired as an assistant dean of the ECU School of Education. Dr. Levey was an active participant in multiple educational organizations, but Delta Kappa Gamma, a professional society for female educators promoting excellence in education, was especially important to her. In addition to her professional accomplishments, she was an active and devoted mother to her children. Survivors include her daughters, Tammara and Paige; and three grandchildren.
William J. Volonte (Col ’75 CM) of West New York, New Jersey, died Feb. 5, 2021. Survivors include his wife, Jean Osnos; son David; and a sister.
Mary Tuck Echols (Grad ’76) of Staunton, Virginia, died Dec. 28, 2020. She was a painter and professor emerita of art at Mary Baldwin University, where she taught from 1968 to 1991 and built art history into a full program. She was the first woman to earn a doctorate in art history from UVA, with a specialty in the Italian Renaissance. In her retirement, she continued to teach and paint. She was a co-founder of the Beverley Street Studio School and the Co-Art Gallery in Staunton.
Karl Dommerich Lange (Law ’78) of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, died April 23, 2020. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy and Yale University before earning his law degree from UVA. He leaves no children and was married briefly. In Southport, Connecticut, where he lived for many years, he loved to sail and belonged to the Pequot Yacht Club and volunteered to help youths in need build boats. In Stockbridge, Mr. Lange was active in the Berkshire community hiking groups and the Stockbridge Library Book Club. He had other affiliations that were connected to environment and land preservation. Survivors include two sisters, a niece and a nephew.