Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
April 10, 2012 Issue
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Established 1891
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"The Wild Gardener"
Peter Loewer's Weekly
Column in the Democrat

"The Mouth That Roars"
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Column in the Democrat

"Inside Out"
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"Give Us Paws"
Ruth Huggler's Weekly
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John Conway's Look Back at the History of Sullivan County

Sullivan Renaissance

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Sunna Cooper Rasch
Executive Director & Founder, Periwinkle National Theatre

Sunna Cooper Rasch of Monticello, NY, died peacefully Thursday, May 26, 2011 in West Chester, Pa., surrounded by her family. The cause was complications of a stroke.
Ms. Rasch (pronounced “rah-sh”) never discussed her age, though she was born in the Roaring ’20s in Greenwich, NY, and came of age during the Great Depression. She was the middle child of Morris Cooper, a Russian immigrant, and Mary Abrahams Cooper, the proprietors of a small department store and later an ice cream parlor. 
As an adult, Ms. Rasch split her time between Monticello and New York City, where she founded Periwinkle National Theatre and served as Executive Director for over 40 years. 
Ms. Rasch graduated summa cum laude from SUNY Albany and briefly taught high school English before leaving to found the Periwinkle Theatre company. Ms. Rasch and her husband were also founding members of Temple Sholom, the first reform Jewish congregation in Sullivan County.
At a time when youth theater was known for simplistic answers, Ms. Rasch believed that preaching about morals was boring and pointless and she insisted on dramatic excellence and powerful stories that stood alone as theater.
By the end of the 1960s, Periwinkle had become a leading producer of original professional theater for children and a leader in the burgeoning arts-in-education movement; all this while raising two children. It simply never occurred to “Little Sunna Cooper” that anything was impossible. She was also a lifelong TM meditator.
Under her direction and leadership, Periwinkle productions toured across the country and outside of the U.S.
Ms. Rasch was perhaps most proud of “Halfway There,” an acclaimed play about the universal struggle to grow up and also about over-coming drug abuse. It has been seen by over a million people from middle school to adults. The play challenges audiences with the powerful question: “Are you willing to risk who you are, for a chance to be who you want to be?” In the parlance of modern educational theory which has finally caught up to her, Halfway There “models” for young people the dramatic act of searching for solutions and taking responsibility for your life, your hurts, your joys, your choices and your future.
Sunna's closest and longest professional collaborations were with her dear friends, Robert Kapito, a founder and current President of BlackRock, and the playwright and educator, Scott Laughead. Mr. Kapito is Periwinkle's long-serving board president and Sunna credited Periwinkle's successful growth in large part to Mr. Kapito's encouragement and expert guidance on the board. While Ms. Rasch was known for her spirited will, Mr. Kapito enjoyed the status of being perhaps the only person Sunna did not argue with. Mr. Laughead was Sunna's strongest creative and educational collaborator for over 20 years and, until recently, served as Periwinkle's long-time Director of Education. Mr. Laughead wrote and directed many of Periwinkle's best known plays and workshops.
An early adopter of multicultural casting before it was fashionable, Ms. Rasch was proud of the many accomplishments and awards both she and Periwinkle earned, among them, the Theatre Museum’s Award for Excellence for Theatre Art in Education, and the U.S. Dept. of Education's Education Heroes Award, among many, many others.
The line between personal life and professional life was never fixed. Ms. Rasch was widely known for her energy, intensity and tireless promotion of the arts in education. She was known to pull everyone she knew into her energetic and constantly evolving life's work.
She was also known for her deep interest and love of people and their lives. It didn't matter if it was a person she met on a plane for a minute or her neighbor for 30 years, she sought out and cherished whatever made that person unique and she celebrated it.
Those fortunate to have known her can name at least one time (but often many more!) when Sunna decided there was someone “you have to meet”! It could sometimes feel like a roller coaster, but more often than not, you did and you made a new, valuable business contact, good friend, or synergistic collaborator. She did not limit herself only to people she knew. If she didn't personally know someone, but wanted to, she would fire off a hand written note and FedEx it overnight. Always busy, and often running, she was not above calling the post office, an airline, or a bus to wait for her. It almost always worked. She had a gift for being simultaneously pushy, kind, fun, and classy. She somehow made people want to do their best.
As recently as a week before her death, she encouraged one of her caregivers to return to school and get her RN degree because Sunna saw great potential in her. She was never as happy as when she met someone who, as she liked to say, “has that spark.”
Sunna Rasch, was married to the late Donald (Buddy) Rasch, her husband of 60 years. Among other things, they attended the original Woodstock Festival together, where he happily napped on the lawn (there is a great picture this) while Sunna conducted free-lance interviews with the enthusiastic crowd.  
She is survived by a son, Alfred Rasch (Cindy Barimani) and a daughter, Nancy Rasch Salamon (Robert Williams)  of West Chester, PA. She is also survived by 2 grandsons, David Salamon (Margaret) of Albuquerque, NM, and Bren Salamon of Brooklyn, New York, a great granddaughter, Nadia Salamon, sisters Barbara Nachbar of Oceanside, NY, and Dina Claner of Hollywood, Florida and numerous nieces and nephews. 
A memorial service will be held on July 12th, 2011at 3:30 PM at Temple Sholom, Dillon Road, Monticello NY.
Memorial donations may be sent to: Periwinkle Theatre for Youth, SR Fund, 457 Broadway, Suite 7, Monticello, NY 12701 and/or Temple Sholom Religious Youth Scholarship Fund, PO Box 664, Monticello, NY 12701. 

Louise Ann Collins
Retired Seamstress, 84

Louise Ann Collings of Milanville, Pa., a retired seamstress and a lifelong resident of the area, passed away Thursday, June 2, 2011 at NE Hospice, Scranton, Pa. She was 84.
The daughter of the late Leonard and Pearl Skinner Koferl, she was born July 10, 1926 in Narrowsburg.
She was the widow of Richard Collins who passed away on October 10, 2003.
A family statement reads, “Louise was a loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She loved living in Milanville and the countryside. She loved to garden and especially her flowers. She also enjoyed crochet. She will be sadly missed by her family and friends.
Survivors include her two daughters, Estella Olsen and Susannah Austin, both of Milanville, Pa.; three grandchildren, Richard Austin, John J. Austin, and Charles Austin; three great-grandchildren, Melissa Austin, Michael Austin and Wolfgang Austin; four brothers, Raymond Koferl, Norman Koferl, Leonard Koferl, and James Koferl; three sisters, Elenore Edwards, Augusta and Rose Alfdorf.
She is predeceased by her husband Richard; her two sisters, Mary Koferl and Alice Tyler; two brothers, John Koferl and Harold Koferl; and her great-granddaughter, Magna Austin.
Services will be private at the convenience of the family.
Donations made in Louise’s name may be made to the Damascus Volunteer Ambulance Corps, P.O. Box 63, Damascus, PA 18415.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Rasmussen Funeral Home, Narrowsburg, NY. 845-252-3901.

Harvey L. Katz
Retired Journalist, 86

Harvey L. Katz, age 86, of Goshen and formerly of Yonkers, died Saturday, June 4, 2011 at the Glen Arden Health Care Center in Goshen after a long and courageous battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Harvey was born on April 9, 1925, the only child of Milton V. Katz and Dora Simpson, who had emigrated from Europe. He grew up in New Rochelle, and graduated from Isaac E. Young High School where he first discovered his love of journalism. After high school he enlisted in the army and served on the European front during World War II with the 75th Infantry Division.  He was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge and subsequently received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.  While recovering from his injury he co-authored the book, “They Came from the Ardennes” which immortalized the bravery of the soldiers in his division.  He remained involved in the 75th Division Veterans Association throughout his life and attended all of their reunions, including the 50th reunion at the Pines Hotel.  He also received a commendation from the United States government for his service to the country during the Cold War and is listed in the Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor.
After World War II, he attended Syracuse University and graduated from the school of Journalism in 1949. While at Syracuse University he was the editor of The Daily Orange newspaper and wrote a famous story about the night that the Archibold gym burned to the ground. Also while at Syracuse University, he met Glory Weisberger, whom he married in 1949.
From 1949 until 1958, Harvey was a reporter and editor for several newspapers.  In 1958 he became the director of corporate public relations for Pan American Airlines. This was a great accomplishment as he was the first Jewish person to work in upper management at Pan American.  He accompanied their wheel chair basketball team to Israel and Italy where they had an audience with Pope John XXIII.  In 1973 he became the Vice President of the New York City Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. a position he held until his retirement in 1992.  He was instrumental in promoting New York City as the “big apple.”
Harvey and Glory had two children Susan and Arne. One of the great joys of his life was Susan’s marriage to Stephen G. Miller. Harvey considered Stephen to be his son and enjoyed an extremely close relationship with him.  He was married to Glory for 62 years and they had wonderful times together, greatly enjoying their family, friends and life in general.  He had a wonderful sense of humor and enjoyed parties tremendously.  He was a devoted husband, father, uncle and friend.
After his retirement, Harvey and Glory continued to  lead an active life, traveling all over the country and world, visiting family and friends, attending Syracuse University events, Mets and Syracuse basketball games  and in general enjoying themselves.  Glory’s love and devotion kept Harvey active and living a very full life until his failing health resulted in their moving to the Glen Arden Life Care Center in Goshen in 2005 after living in Yonkers for 47 years.
Harvey is survived by his devoted wife, Glory, of Goshen; his loving son Arne Katz and daughter Susan K. Miller and her husband Stephen, all of Woodridge; his niece, Pamela Brier; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and a great-great-nephew.
During the past four and a half years, Harvey resided at the Glen Arden Health Care Center where he received compassionate and excellent care. While each and every staff member at the Health Care Center was outstanding, the family wants to particularly thank Julie Jamsek, Cheryl Hefner, Dawn Molnar, Lori Knapp,  Torey Edwards, Jim Krauss, Chitiva Bowen  and Tina Baisley for the many kindnesses and wonderful care they provided to both Harvey and the rest of the family. We also wish to thank Harvey’s two special caregivers, Janet Spence and Nancy Reid for their devotion to both Harvey and Glory.
The family will be sitting shiva at the home of Susan and Steve Miller from Monday after the burial until Thursday night.
Funeral Services were held Monday, June 6, 2011 at the Joseph N. Garlick Funeral Home Inc., Monticello.  Rabbi David Kay officiated. Burial was in the Hurleyville Synagogue Cemetery Hurleyville. 
Donations may be made in Harvey’s memory to the Sullivan ARC Foundation, Guardianship Fund, 162 East Broadway, Monticello, NY 12701.
To send the family a condolence note please visit

Ethel Irwin Coombe, 98
July 19, 1912 - December 22, 2010

Ethel Irwin Coombe passed away December 22, 2010 peacefully at home with her loving children by her side. She was 98.
Ethel was the daughter of the late Joseph and Margaret Shields Irwin, born on July 19, 1912 in Kearny, NJ. 
Ethel was a devoted wife to Philip Coombe, to whom she was married for 73 years. She was a loving mother blessed with many diverse talents; she was a tailor, stone mason, artist, interior decorator, gardener, poet, and quilter as well as an avid reader. She was always an active member of her community and involved in a number of different organizations both locally and in Ridgewood, NJ where she lived for thirty two years. She was a member of the Grahamsville Reformed Church, Studio Monday Artists, Claryville Quilters, and a past president of the Shawangunk Gardening Club. In her youth she was a star basketball player and was the first woman at Kearny High School to receive a varsity letter. She also enjoyed playing golf. For many years she was involved in merchandising and buying. 
Ethel was an extraordinary wife, mother, and grandmother; she always made her home a warm and inviting place for all her friends and family to visit. She was loved by all that knew her and will be sorely missed.
She is survived by her five children: three daughters Charlotte Stratton and her husband Vernon, Phyllis Gillette, Marilyn Stewart and her husband William; two sons, Philip Coombe Jr. and his wife Carolyn, Richard I. Coombe and his wife Phyllis; 19 grandchildren; 38 great -grandchildren; and one great-great-granddaughter. Her husband Philip and her son-in-law John Gillette predeceased her.
A memorial Service will be held on Saturday, June 11, 2011 at Grahamsville Reformed Church, Grahamsville, NY at 11 a.m. The Rev. Paul Z. Ruter will officiate.
In lieu of flowers, donations in her name can be made to the Daniel Pierce Library and The Time and the Valleys Museum Building Fund.
Arrangements were under the direction of Louck's Funeral Home, 79 North Main Street, Ellenville NY 12428. For information please call 845-647-4343.

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