Barbara Hillier’s memorial service was yesterday at the Princeton University Chapel. She died at age 71 on November 21, 2022. How she combined motherhood and an atypical but impressive career was explained in detail – perhaps for the first time, for most of us — in her obituary.
One of her stellar projects was the convention center in Irving, Texas. As described, “She created a vertical convention center that soared 170 feet into the Texas sky with convention rooms at different levels, all connected by amazing escalators and with expansive terraces protected from the hot Texas sun. The design minimized its land consumption, and the center had a huge visual presence from the highways to the Dallas airport. The building has won every imaginable award…”
As explained by Pam Hersh in this Tap Into Princeton column. Barbara earned her master’s degree in architecture from Princeton University without taking a required course — because it was taught by her husband.
The snapshot of Bob and Barbara Hillier was taken at the opening of the Copperwood apartments in 2014. Barbara Hillier received the first Woman of Achievement award, given in 2013 by the Women in Business Alliance at what is now the Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber.
On All Saints Day I was remembering Mary Hultse, who left this earth in 2018 and left Princeton before that. In preparation for the All Saints Day service on November 6 at Princeton United Methodist Church, we were asked to think about who were the saints in our lives
The name “saint” implies perfect, but according to Derek Weber, who quotes Psalm 149 in his All Saint’s Day meditation for the Upper Room Disciplines book, “saints of God are those who accept the invitation to dance. A saint is someone who knows something of the joy of living, even in the hardest moments of life. A saint is someone who knows something of the exuberance of praise, even when tears fall like rain and sweat falls like great drops of blood.”
As a successful advertising executive at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Mary Hultse commuted to Princeton from an apartment on the Upper West Side, where she was a regular at Riverside Church. Then she bought a second apartment, a fourth-floor corner walkup on Palmer Square, so that she could look out over Princeton University and enjoy walking around town. She retired in 1990.
Mary had such joie de vivre – going dancing, loving beautiful art, anything Hungarian, and clothes. She told stories of escaping Hungary with gold coins sewn into the hem of her dress. With a passion for the arts – she loved to sing, act, and dance – she joined local theater groups and played Aunt Eller in “Oklahoma” at Washington Crossing. She was beloved by the staff at Richardson Auditorium, where she volunteered as an usher. Devoutly faithful, she enthusiastically participated in the life of Princeton United Methodist Church (PrincetonUMC) and was in charge of the Altar Guild. She reveled in her Hungarian heritage and loved the daughters of a Hungarian family as if they were her grandchildren.
She was a trooper – not just in drama, but in stamina – even with arthritis and knee surgery, she trudged up four flights, 67 steps, to keep her view. She had Moxie, like the name of her former German shepherd. She had faith and extreme hospitality. But what we loved about Mary is that she helped us to be our Best Selves.
Everyone she met was perfect – beautiful, wonderful, perfect. When you think about Mary glowing with compliments — that’s the kind of love that Jesus offers. Unconditional love. Like at PrincetonUMC, when we say “You are enough because God is enough.”
The same qualities that made her a good executive – persistence, insistence – eventually evolved into just plain obstinance, masking depression and the beginning of dementia. When she began to fail, she refused to move away from her apartment. It was so hard to help her, because she would agree to something one day and refuse the next day.
An ad-hoc care team of a dozen PrincetonUMC people did help her stay in that apartment. We alternated taking her places. One woman did her wash. Others brought her home for meals and took her shopping. Walking behind her, we pushed her up those stairs and fetched cappuccinos from the Palmer Square kiosk. We worked with Princeton Senior Resource Center. We worked with Palmer Square management and (surreptitiously) with her doctors. We worked with McCaffrey’s. (Wanting to be independent, she would go to McCaffrey’s on the bus but not be able to get home. They would call us to come pick her up and we would dispatch someone on the Mary Team.) A couple from the church put in endless hours to organize her finances and pay her taxes. Along with her Hungarian friends, we were her family.
In the end, we were the benefactors, because in helping Mary, we got to be the best we could be. We surprised ourselves. We found out how good it felt to act out our faith.
In his meditation Weber refers to the English carol Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day. “In his own voice and with his life, Jesus calls all to dance with joy for this gift of life eternal. . . On All Saints’ Day, we remember those whose dancing with their Lord has given us all hope. And we aspire to follow them in the music and dance Jesus is leading.”
Mary Hultse embodied the spirit of the eternal dance.
At the time, I didn’t notice it, how hard it was. In the ’60s and ’70s, we moms didn’t even think of having it “all” or “leaning in.” We thought we were lucky to have a smidgen. We were swimming ‘in the water.”
You may have my copy of the latter. It was put out by Catalyst, founded in 1961 to make workplaces better for women. That was the year I graduated from college and — newly married and out of the workforce — I had NO idea how hard things were for women.
Watson’s book is a good read. But if somebody like Watson had published his autobiography in the ’70s, I might have recognized how badly the deck was stacked against women. Everywhere where you might think Watson would refer to “they,” “employees,” “managers,” whatever term — he uses the pronoun MEN. There simply weren’t any women in his ken. All men.
That was the way it was, then. It was ordinary. When my husband went to a summer training program at IBM, the class picture had two women and 30 men. It was in the water.
Beyond the beer bracelets and the colorful jackets, the organizers of Princeton Alumni Reunions have included some displays and events that explain the history of white supremacy — the political, economic, and cultural system that manipulates and pits all races and ethnicities against each other.
On view today at the Frist Campus Center is the photographic story of James Johnson. This is a somewhat positive story about a formerly enslaved man who worked at the university, in various capacities including as an entrepreneur selling snacks, from 1843 to 1902. A Princeton woman paid to keep from having him returned to his former owner. (He repaid the debt).
In the Art Museum, now and until July 7, resonate with the problems of immigrants at the border in an exhibit: Miracles at the Border,
You may have noticed odd stones in the sidewalk on campus. They are part of the (In)Visible Princeton Walking Tours, five self-guided tours on your cell phone covering the experience of minorities (African-Americans, Women, and Asian-Americans) as well as standard Tiger traditions. Download and take any tour anytime.
Back by popular demand are the “performance theater” Race and Protest tours. When I took one last year there was some confusion, among those who signed up, about the format. The theater artists tell location-based stories. If you read this TODAY, May 31, meet at the Art Museum for an hour-long tour at 10:30 a.m. or 4:30 a.m. It’s well worth going. Or read about my experience here.
Do you hate to listen to a recording of yourself? Because you hear the Ums and the Uhs (and maybe the ‘Likes’?)
Eileen Sinett, of Speaking That Connects, offers a three-part training focused on helping speakers drastically reduce or eliminate the “uhs, ums, duhs,” and other fillers that can punctuate our public speaking. “All listeners are not the same,” says Sinett. “Some will focus on your message despite fillers; others will be distracted and count these hesitations as you speak. If you have been told you ‘uh’ and ‘um’ too much, help is here to reduce or eliminate these vocal fillers.”
Sinett is a corporate trainer as well as a speech pathologist. She first became interested in helping people with physical disabilities after watching a Jerry Lewis telethon in high school. “I’m probably one of the few people who can list Jerry Lewis as a career influence,” she says. A counselor suggested speech pathology, and she enrolled at Emerson College in Boston, receiving a bachelors degree in 1971. She earned a master’s in speech correction from Kean University in 2002.
You get hired for your technical skills, you get promoted because you “present” well.
Any skill — hockey, piano, or acting — requires exercise to get stronger, and so does public speaking.
“Strong presentations create a career advantage, and practice helps them build their communication confidence and performance muscles,” says Eileen Sinett, speech consultant with Speaking That Connects.
She offers a speech practice group called Rehearsals, which runs on the first and third Wednesdays of the month from 7 to 8:45 p.m., beginning February 6 at the Speaking that Connects Studio at 610 Plainsboro Road. The cost is $30 for a single session or $50 for both in one month. Call 609-799-1400 or visit www.speakingthatconnects.com/programs to register.
“There are few opportunities to practice before groups,” says Sinett, “be it Toastmasters, Dale Carnegie, adult education, or some other corporate training and development companies.”
Rehearsals, says Sinett, “gives speakers an opportunity to practice a presentation before a group of peers and receive their constructive feedback,” as well as the guidance of Sinett herself.
If you are not currently working on a speech, dust off one you have given before – and practice!
Oceans, rivers, fish and whales — see them pictured on buttons at the New Jersey State Button Society (NJSBS) Show and Competition, set for Saturday, May 12, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Button collectors will also enter competitions featuring baskets and buttons made from celluloid and black glass.
The show will be held at the Union Fire Company fire hall, 1396 River Road (Route 29), Titusville, NJ 08560, and there is plenty of free parking. Admission is $2 for adults, free for juniors to age 17.
This show and sale of collectible clothes buttons attracts antique enthusiasts, quilters, crafters, re-enactors, and those seeking special buttons to wear. The day’s activities include a button raffle and a forum on how to put together a winning entry for the state competitions.
Members of the NJSBS share an interest in studying, collecting, and preserving clothing buttons, both old and new. The NJSBS was founded in 1941, at a time when a nationwide interest in button collecting was surging. Many authors of classic books on button collecting come from New Jersey.
The Union Fire Company & Rescue Squad building is located at the intersection of Route 29 and Park Lake Avenue in Titusville, opposite the Delaware River and D&R Canal State Park (with easy access to the canal park), a half mile north of Washington Crossing State Park in Hopewell Township, and some five miles south of Lambertville and New Hope, PA. Contact 732-356-4132. email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://newjerseystatebuttonsociety.org.
Pat Tanner bills herself as the sixth of seven children in a food-obsessed Italian family, and she admits that the terms ‘food-obsessed’ and ‘Italian’ are redundant. An award-winning food writer, restaurant critic, and blogger, Tanner speaks at the Princeton chamber breakfast on Valentine’s Day, Wednesday, February 14, at the Nassau Club, starting at 7:30 a.m.
Always devoted to some aspect of food, Tanner edited the Zagat Survey, contributed to publications such as the New York Times and New Jersey Monthly, hosted a live, weekly radio show, co-founded the Central Jersey Chapter of Slow Food, and catered meals delivered to homes, In fact, that’s when I first met her — Tanner delivered dinners to my fridge in the ’80s.
She has written for U.S. 1 Newspaper since 2002 – later for the Princeton Echo of Community News – chronicling how Princeton added fine dining opportunities to what was pretty much a wasteland.
In true U.S. 1 fashion, Tanner told the stories behind the cooking personalities, as in this profile of three women bakers. Early in her tenure she shared what she taught to financial advisors: a top 10 list of breaches of dining etiquette. She’s not too uppity to review a hot dog stand, She has a blog, dinewithpat.com.
Last year, when Tanner put food writing on the back burner, she began letting her picture be published. (Food critics try to remain anonymous.) But her fans keep hoping to lure her to the table. The breakfast table at the Nassau Club is the place to be on Wednesday.
Validating ladies who lunch: this article in the Princeton Echo about The Present Day Club, depicted by E.E. Whiting, telling how for 120 years it has “consistently met the needs of an ever changing society.”
Are we ladies who lunch? Damn straight we are. We are also women who think, innovate, challenge, participate, and achieve. And we do this all together in that stately home on Stockton Street.