Memorials / Reden

John R. Nesselroade

University of Virginia

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is with a deep sense of loss but yet with a great sense of riches that I stand here. Both derive from having known Margret Baltes.

As a developmental behavioral scientist, Margret understood well the need for sampling. We who speak of Margret today in reminiscences can only sample sparingly from her rich life. Unlike random sampling, however, sampling from the heart is not an exact science, so later, after the fact, other pieces will come to mind that I will wish I had said -- but at times such as this, sampling from the heart is appropriate.

I was connected to Margret in many ways and at several levels. At the level of our two families, there is much to remember and for which to be grateful. I spoke with both of my daughters in the past few days concerning their remembrances of Margret. For both of them, recollections of Margret were colored by their age-based relationships to Boris and Anushka. Both daughters recalled Margret primarily in her mother-housewife role and thought of the good food she used to prepare, the fun and excitement of being in the Baltes home, and the adult recognition that Margret gave them. One daughter remarked, "Margret talked to us a lot but she didn’t ask all those questions that Paul did."

My wife’s recollections of Margret were many-faceted. She recalled how Margret had accepted many challenges, yet kept her "big" smile. They were friends for over 30 years, during which time Carolyn and I "stood up" for the Balteses when Anushka joined their family and again, later, when Margret became a U.S. citizen. Margret and Carolyn laughed and cried together many times over the years and their relationship was never better than in 1997 when Carolyn and I spent four months in Berlin.

In my own case, it is very difficult to separate the personal from the professional when it comes to my own relationship with Margret. I taught her in "Multivariate Analysis" 30 years ago when she was a graduate student at West Virginia University. I well recall one incident when she came to my office in pursuit of understanding some difficult geometric concepts. After we discussed the issues and she left my office, I was amused by the fact that she was the only graduate student to have made the effort to fully grasp the topic even though I was absolutely sure that many of the students had not understood it at all. Later, with great pride, I saw her apply the same tenacity to conquering the hurdles of academe, including tenure and promotion, grant-getting, and so on, to become a highly distinguished, internationally famous gerontologist.

In both her personal and her professional life Margret was a competitor. She accepted many, many challenges, attacked them with persistence, dignity, and resilience and, mostly, she prevailed. That is how I saw her across parts of four decades. That is how I shall remember her.

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