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In Memoriam: Dr. Athleen J. Stere

Former Penn State Altoona faculty member, Athleen Jacobs Stere, of Altoona, passed away April 1, 2018, in Raleigh, North Carolina, at the age of 97.

Athleen was born February 1, 1921, in Boston, daughter of Clifton N. and Alice (Seavey) Jacobs, and grew up in Norristown. She was married twice, first in 1943 to David W. Bishop, and then in 1959 to Hassell L. Stere Jr. Both preceded her in death.

Surviving are three children: David W. Bishop II (Linda) of Pittsburgh, Deborah B. Crist (Steven) of Raleigh, NC, and Robert H. Stere of Altoona; five grandchildren: Lisa Crawley (Matthew) of Raleigh, NC, Jeffrey Crist (April) of Durham, NC, Timothy Bishop (Claire), Jonathan Bishop and Beth Wilmoth (Brayden) of Pittsburgh; three great-grandchildren: Paige and Miles Crawley of Raleigh,NC, and Turner Crist of Durham, NC.; four stepdaughters: Patricia S. Sears of Washington Depot, CT, Linda K. Stere of Nashville, TN, Peggy S. Oliva (Robert) of Smithtown, NY, and Melody S. DeLozier (Stephen) of Hollidaysburg; five step-grandchildren: Megan Caldwell (Robert) of Portland, OR, Julie DeSalvo (Daniel) of Melbourne, FL, Eric Oliva of Smithtown, NY, and Jesse and Deanna DeLozier of Hollidaysburg; three step-great-grandchildren: Connor, Cameron, and Charley Caldwell of Portland, OR; a sister, Frederica J. Lofquist of Aiken, SC.; and a brother, Clifton N. Jacobs Jr. of Marlborough, MA. She was preceded in death by two step-grandchildren, Daniel Reeseman and Christopher Sears.

Athleen earned a bachelor of arts degree in biology from Bryn Mawr College and a master’s degree in biology from Harvard University, where she also fulfilled nearly all of the requirements for her doctorate in biology.

A groundbreaker in the field of science, she was the first woman to be offered and then hold a Teaching Fellowship in biology at Harvard. Her research at Penn State, Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, and Boston University Medical School was funded by grants from the American Heart Association, National Science Foundation, and National Institutes of Health, among others.

Having completed her doctorate at Penn State, Athleen joined the University in 1963 and accepted an appointment at Penn State Altoona in 1971.

Penn State Altoona’s revered College Marshal, Athleen earned numerous awards for teaching, leadership, and service, including the University’s prestigious Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching (now the Milton S. Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching); Women in Leadership Award, sponsored by Penn State’s Commission for Women; Faculty Member of the Year Award, presented by Penn State Altoona’s Student Government Association; YWCA Tribute to Women Award; and Penn State Altoona’s inaugural Loyalty and Longevity Award, an honor based on specific age and service criteria.

Few individuals throughout Penn State Altoona’s rich history have impacted the lives of as many students as Athleen, associate professor Emerita of biology. As an educator and academic adviser for baccalaureate nursing students, she not only offered instruction, but shared invaluable counsel on critical matters affecting academic and career choices.

Athleen’s many contributions to Penn State include four terms as chair of the Penn State Altoona Faculty Senate and service on various committees. She held memberships in several honorary, professional, and leadership societies.

The Athleen J. Stere Teaching Award was established by the Penn State Altoona Teaching and Learning Consortium in her honor several years ago to recognize excellence in teaching and learning.

She was an avid reader and loved music. She played the flute in several community symphony orchestras, including the Norristown Symphony Orchestra and the Altoona Symphony Orchestra. She loved to swim and ski. Athleen was very active in the Girl Scouts, both as a scout and as a leader. As a scout, she earned the Golden Eaglet award.

Memorial gifts can be made to the Dr. Athleen J. Stere Matching Trustee Scholarship at Penn State Altoona, 3000 Ivyside Park, Altoona, PA, 16601.