Julia B. (Boxer) Peyser


Funeral Service

Thu., Feb. 07, 2013


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Dr. Julia B. Peyser, 1926 – 2013

We honor the brilliant and beautiful Julia B. Peyser, a shining representative of humanity

who was passionate about reading, dancing, directing theatre, teaching, writing, and her family,

and whose effortless and magnificent smile never will be forgotten.

In 1942, at the age of sixteen, Julia Boxer was named valedictorian of her high school

class in Mamaroneck, New York. Continuing to excel at the university level, as well as in future

careers, she implemented her inherent best academically, personally and collectively for the rest

of her life. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Spanish from NYU in 1947

and her Master of Arts degree in Education from Columbia University, City of New York, in

1948. In 1985, she earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Andrews University in

Berrien Springs, Michigan. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, the National Education Association,

the Michigan Education Association, and a member of numerous affiliations, including

educational, philanthropic, and arts institutions, she and her husband, Dr. Joseph L. Peyser,

bestowed an ongoing endowment to Indiana University at South Bend to be used by laudable

students in the Foreign Language Department who, as student teachers, want to experience the

joys of teaching overseas.

Julia B. Peyser devoted herself to the attainment of knowledge and unceasingly

advocated for those who are challenged in their quest for voice and presence and therefore must

be recognized. Her boundless love of children was apparent at all times, for those students, and

the faculty who taught them under her guidance as an administrator, were inspired to achieve

success by her calm voice and demeanor and belief that children are the seeds of tomorrow and

must be nurtured by giving them the tools to attain knowledge, confidence, wisdom, and

compassion through clear direction, admiration and respect.

From the day she was born the last child and only girl to parents Sara and Israel Boxer,

prized and beloved sister of Samuel, Murray, and Sidney, to her last day on earth, the brilliant

and beautiful Julia B. Peyser led her accomplished and optimistic life with dignity, poise, and

perseverance.

In 1985, Dr. Peyser received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Andrews

University, the esteemed institution of higher learning in Berrien Springs, Michigan, whose

focus on scholarship, faith and changing the world was the perfect environment for Julia

to continue to spread her wings and succeed in attaining her goals, which included a great

propensity for research, which would color and enhance her approaches as a Speech Therapist

and the ways her colleagues viewed and taught children and young adults in the Niles School

District in Michigan. She loved to ponder and share what she had learned with others and did so

with vitality. In the 1970’s, she served as Principal of Kennedy School in the Penn-Harris-

Madison School District, and earlier in her career, she was Assistant Principal of Norwood and

Oceanside Elementary Schools in Northport, New York. Dr. Peyser was duly respected by all as

an innovative and beloved administrator.

A voracious reader throughout her life, her favorite activity as a child was sitting on

the front porch swing reading, though her mother urged her daughter to get more fresh air and

physical activity. To satisfy her mother’s efforts and desire, Julia jumped off the swing, put on

her roller skates and took off with the words from her books soaring through her thoughts as she

flew down the streets of New York. Later, she became a star volleyball player in high school,

and at New York University, Julia fell in love with the lively art of theatre and won numerous

awards as a theatre director, honors she cherished throughout her life. Indeed, as a child, her

mother had often taken her to the movies, where they both relished the stories on screen, and

Julia’s propensity for deep thought, eloquent words, insight, laughter and pleasant nature

served her and others well in the theatrical world. Ultimately, after earning a master’s degree

at Columbia University, she was offered a position as director of a theatre company scheduled

to tour the east coast. However, on a blind date, one bright, summer’s day at Rye Beach, NY,

where she was chaperoned by her brother Murray, she met Joe Peyser, a trim Lieutenant JG

in the Navy. These two, brilliant minds instantly connected, for each always had hoped to meet

someone as intelligent as they were, so Julia eventually declined the offer to direct theatre on

tour and chose to marry this handsome Navy officer. When her mother, a brilliant woman in her

own right, a Russian immigrant who spoke four languages fluently and was an esteemed real

estate broker in New York, looked out the window and saw Joe walking up to the house in his

Navy dress whites for a date with her daughter, she was so taken with his striking good looks,

she exclaimed, “He looks like a God!”

Drs. Julia and Joe Peyser would go on to become highly regarded scholars, teachers, and

administrators, with Julia becoming an English teacher, Speech Therapist, Assistant Principal,

and Principal, and returning to be a Speech Therapist for seventeen years before retiring. She

also taught Public Speaking at IUSB, and later, she was a docent for the beautiful Copshaholm

mansion in South Bend, where many visitors enjoyed her gorgeous speaking voice as she told the

history and stories of one of South Bend’s industrial tycoons, his family and their spectacular,

Romanesque-Queen Anne styled mansion.

Alongside their careers, Julia and Joe had two children, J. Randall Peyser and Jan Ellen

Peyser. With one-year old Randy, Julia and Joe lived in France while Joe taught, and later they

travelled to various countries around the world during their school vacations, often as a couple

and occasionally with their children. When Jan was six years old and Randy eleven, they went

through the Caves at Lascaux in a rowboat with their parents, a guide, and a loaf of French bread

with bricks of semi-sweet chocolate. Both parents encouraged and nurtured a love of history,

so it was not unusual that Jan Ellen brought fossils to school for show and tell, which she and

her family had collected on their jaunts through France and Spain. As well, Julia and Joe

transferred their love of reading to both children, and trips to the library every Saturday found

Julia and her children spending hours leafing through books and returning home with stacks of

biographies, adventure stories, and more in their arms to read, nay devour, and discuss.

Julia had a resonant, articulate, and perfectly enunciated speaking voice, and listening to

her read was a distinct pleasure, never to be forgotten. Many visual memories of Julia bent over

her desk reading, studying and taking notes are a treasure. For enjoyment, she often clipped

articles from newspapers and magazines, and even sections of the comics in the newspaper

to enjoy a good laugh, or to send to those she believed would benefit from laughter. Jan credits

her mother as her role model for the teaching style she employed when she followed in Julia’s

footsteps and taught English, directed theatre and coached speech at the high school level.

Julia also had a great hunger for adventure, and she spent many happy hours tooling

around Suffolk County, Long Island in her willow green Jaguar XKE, for an avid sports car

lover was she! Her passion for fast cars also extended to her appreciation of early-twentieth

century automobiles, such as the Duesenberg, and she had a small collection of model cars next

to her collection of dolls from around the world. When she was a young child, her brothers had

often taken her for rides in the rumble seat of their Model A Fords, an unrivaled thrill, and she

remembered even riding along on some of their dates!

She tirelessly drove Jan to ballet classes when she arrived home from teaching a full

day at school, five days a week, and again on Saturdays, for she and her brother, Murray,

had been ballroom dancers, often dancing for the communities in upstate New York at various

halls and restaurants. She loved to tell the story of how one time, while practicing their routine

in the house by dancing throughout all the rooms, they bounded across one of the beds, breaking

it as they leapt off! As recently as ten years ago, Julia and Joe could be found dancing around

their living room cheek-to-cheek.

Julia loved to sing and dance, and she hummed as she went about being the best person

she could be. She had extraordinary self-confidence, and all who observed her watched

in awe as she confidently sailed through eras where men still dominated the scene. She stood

by those who needed support the entire way, and she was there for those who worked hard to

overcome any obstacle that might be obstructing a clear path, gently guiding, often with a sense

of humor, and sharing her encouragement and words of wisdom.

Reading, speaking, teaching, and writing played an enormous role in her life, as did

listening to good music, watching movies, mysteries and arts programming on PBS, attending

broadway shows, exploring museums, attending theatre, looking for beautiful art, antiques, or

gorgeous jewelry and beautiful, well made, tailored clothing. She loved her black poodles, and

her love and compassion for all animals was tender. She was a fiercely independent woman

whose gorgeous presence and calm voice were a beacon of light, trumpet for knowledge, and

inspiration for all that is right. She spoke fluent Spanish and French, played bridge like a pro,

loved the beach and to swim, gave excellent advice when asked to do so, and always had an

interesting story to tell, often about the students she so loved, and she always had something

worthwhile to say in regard to the news, politics, and all that went on in the world around her, for

her intellect and creativity were great, and with keen insight and calm demeanor, she stopped

anyone who spoke imprudently.

To all who knew Julia B. Peyser, from her students, to colleagues, to friends, to

neighbors, to husband, to daughter, to son, to grandchildren, and of course, to her loving, black

poodles, first Chanterelle, next Etoile de Jet, and finally Éclair, Julia always could be counted

on to be the one who knew what to say, knew what was best to do, knew what was needed, knew

how to see the world with savvy, open eyes, knew to speak the truth, even if it acknowledged

an unpleasant reality, and knew how to find a positive perspective, if warranted, and a successful

path and resolution. Frequently smiling her magnificent smile, she taught us all to be better,

wiser, and loving human beings. She will be missed beyond any words can relay.

Julia would want everyone who knew her never to forget her, but she would encourage us

to move forward with determination and confidence in the way we want to lead the rest of our

lives, for she firmly believed we must continue to follow our dreams and make them come true,

just as she did. Thank you, Dr. Julia B. Peyser. We love you.

*****

Julia is survived by her loving and devoted children, Jan Ellen Peyser and J. Randall

Peyser, adoring grandchildren Lisa Renee Stamm, Jason Philip Stamm, and Benjamin Peyser,

son-in-law Dr.Raymond E. Gleason, daughter-in-law Sherri Wolfgang-Peyser, and sister-

in-law Jeanne Peyser-Kaunitz. Duly inspired and commemorative speeches and services were

presented by her children, grandchildren, others, and Rabbi Eric Siroka on February 7, 2013.

With her beloved husband, Dr. Joseph L. Peyser, the incomparable Dr. Julia B. Peyser will dance

through eternity from their cliffside resting place at historic Riverview Cemetary overlooking

Pinhook Lagoon in South Bend, Indiana.

*****

Anyone who would like to make a contribution in her name is welcome to do so at the South Bend Civic Theatre, 215 W. Madison Street, P.O. Box 1146, South Bend, Indiana 46601.

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