In 2021, the 60th anniversary of Peace Corps and Colombia Group 1 was sadly met with many losses in the FOC family. We hope that our end of year fundraising efforts can be made in memory of them. We will continue to support our ongoing partnerships in Colombia and hope to make an additional donation to Tierra Grata to support sanitation and health projects in disadvantaged areas on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Colombia.

We will continue to update this webpage with remembrances of those we have recently lost.  Please email president.friendsofcolombia@gmail.com with a paragraph about the person and we will add them to this page.

In memory of: 

 

Rene Fernand Cardenas

“Popularly named CARDO. We remember him as our buddy in Peace Corps Volunteer Group 2 in Colombia. Also as a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader who loved to write poetry and energize PCV meetings with ideas for village programs in Accion Comunal. All with positive thoughts, memories and experiences. He had an active career – developing communities and education.”

– Refugio I. Rochin

 

Margarita Sorock

“Margarita told me that all she ever wanted to be was a Peace Corps Volunteer. She came to Colombia in the early 60s from Brooklyn, New York. She loved languages, literature, and photography. Most of all, she loved Colombia and even brought her ailing brother and mother to live with her in Cartagena. She was fiercely loyal and caring. She never lost her New Yorker attitude in the Caribbean sun. Watching the Yankees and reading were her favorite pastimes. When I met Margarita in 2010, I was a member of the first PC Response team after more than a 20 year hiatus. As she fed me bollos de mazora and queso costeño, I thought all I ever want to be is Margarita. I miss her everyday. She was my teacher, storyteller, aunt, and friend.”

– Carolyn Carpenter (RPCV Paraguay 1997-2000, PC Response Colombia 2010)

 

Dan Wemhoff

After military service, Dan joined the first Peace Corps group in 1961 and served in Colombia, South America. This began a lifetime interest in international relations, humanitarian service, justice and foreign literature and films. A member of Colombia I, Dan was a constant presence in the Peace Corps community during the decades he lived in Washington DC. After his ALS became severe, he moved to Florida to be close to the loving care of his family. 

-Pat Wand

 

Susan Mazer

“Sue was a PE Volunteer in the Escuela Normal in Bucaramanga from 1966-1970.  Her incredible sense of humor endeared her to all of her students and fellow Colombian staff members.  She informally adopted a Colombian boy and helped him achieve his engineering education; their families remained close throughout the years.  Sue was an active member of the Chicago Area RPCVs and then her local Florida group when she moved south.  We attended several NPCA conferences together, most recently in DC where we met the Colombian Ambassador at his residence.  Despite being vigilant about COVID, Sue succumbed to its ravages in less than a week, thus ending our plans to make yet another trip back to Colombia together.  Truly, “bringing the world back home” was Susan Lee Mazer’s modus operandi.  She is greatly missed.”

– Janet Post

 

Irv Dubinsky

“In 2011, during our Group reunion in Puerto Rico, Irv pulled me aside, informing me that he had just been diagnosed with a rare and incurable blood cancer affecting something like only 0.001% of our population.  He stoutly commented:  they say that I have a dire medical prognosis with a soon to be realized predictable end point but I’m not believing that at all! 

Irv’s perseverance foiled what seemed like most of the highly reputable medical community in the U. S., whether it be the Mayo Clinic, or Johns Hopkins, or MD Anderson, or Memorial Sloan Kettering where he spent a month virtually isolated and confined to a hospital room while various clinicians administered donor stem cells and blood transfusions, or being rejected in applications for clinical trials. Time after time he successfully challenged their predictions of how many more weeks or months he had left in this world.  While those medical experts had the science, Irv had the will to go on … and on in what he considered “the gift of life”. What followed was years of using that ‘gift’, even when hit with a severe case of the shingles that left him bed-ridden for weeks—Irv remained optimistic about prospects for his condition because he was in charge of that ‘gift’. 

I prefer to remember Irv down through the passages of time, after we first met in January 1963 when some 27 young men assembled in New York’s Wellington Hotel to be sworn in as Peace Corps Volunteers. Then, along with Jack Swenson, Irv was a Leader in our Group of Colombian Volunteers.  In that time of our lives, we can be forgiven if our thoughts now of Irv in that turbulent country which became our second home are steeped in the romanticism of youthful exuberance; of those nights we danced into the dawn to the sensuous and teasingly expressive beat of the bambuco; of troubled nights when we wondered just what it was we were doing there—given that those we were there to ‘help’ could hardly comprehend why Volunteers had come to a country they were so desperate to leave if ever the opportunity presented itself;  of being released from doubt at first light by that quick grasp of youth; of the wonderment and invigorating sense of possibility that filled our every day with a meaning and purpose, though we weren’t capable of comprehending how rare this would be in our lives afterward. 

Then, as our Peace Corps Group entered their professional careers, Irv remained at our side, ensuring as a Board Member of the Friends of Colombia that there was a communal sharing of joys and sorrows; the small triumphs and larger disappointments of adult life; the magical delights of children and grandchildren; the stumbles in professional careers and marriages; the inevitable onset in the ravages of age; of those spirited and sometimes visceral exchanges of vastly different political views; of all those awful jokes, humorous antidotes, and harmless quips strewed across life’s often uncertain road that somehow still managed to make memorable our days with Irv.

Eventually, the best in medical science couldn’t prevent a long-standing predictable outcome. Still, surely it can be said of Irv’s consistent defiance to that inevitability: death be not proud.

With a Profound Sense of Camaraderie for Irv’s Presence in Our Lives”

– Jerry Norris, On Behalf of Group VI, Colombian Peace Corps Volunteers.