Kathleen Langan, 93, Greenwich Connecticut
By Judy Crystal, Greenwich Connecticut Branch Letters member
Kathleen Langan, writer, editor, mentor and friend, died on Christmas Day 2018 at the age of 93. Kay was an active participant in the Greenwich, Connecticut, branch and brought joy into the lives of everyone who knew her. An active member of the Letters critique group, she provided insightful comments on the work of others and brought great appreciation when she read her own memory-filled pages for the group. Indeed, Kay won honorable mention in the Vinnie Ream Award 2017 in the nonfiction category for her memoir piece, “Checking My Rear View Mirror: 90 Plus Years of Memories.” She was delighted with the award.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 8, 1925, Langan had intelligence and creativity that were noticeable very quickly. After graduating from high school, where she was editor of the newspaper, she matriculated at Vassar College. Her undergraduate plans to become a foreign correspondent were altered by marriage to Dr. Michael Langan, with whom she reared five children and shared 68 happy years.
Their love for travel inspired a collection of beautiful and unusual crèches in the varied places they visited. Langan opened her home to Pen Women at Christmastime so her fellow Pen Women could enjoy the collection and share the joy she’d experienced in finding them.
Similarly, her love for Vassar and her devotion to the institution would be rewarded by appointment as Alumnae Trustee and, ultimately, to the awarding of two of the college’s highest honors — the Outstanding Alumna and Spirit of Vassar College Awards. A recent cause for delight, was her role as chair of her class’ 50th and 70th reunions.
Her first employment was with the United Nations. Later, in addition to being an active and devoted mother (Sunday school teacher, Scout leader, swim and sailing team mother) to her seven children, Langan was employed as a writer and editor by McGraw Hill. At an age when many people start slowing down, she continued to grow intellectually and professionally. Her graduate degrees (one in history from New York University and another in writing from Manhattanville College) were earned at ages 67 and 84.
She was happily involved in community projects and events. Always available to help and encourage fellow writers, Langan was part of the Greenwich Pen Women committee that created the poetry book “Women’s Voices of the 21st Century”; served as a facilitator for “Greenwich Reads Together”; and in the month before her death, was honorary chair of the Christ Church holiday program, a display of extraordinary and beautiful crèches.
Kay Langan was a role model for all of us who belong to the National League of American Pen Women. Her intelligence, dedication, and love of life set an example to be followed. And, for those of us who were fortunate to have known her, memories of her laughter will brighten even the most difficult day.
Pearl Newton Rook, 95, Central New York Branch
After a life of great adventure, nationally recognized poet Pearl Newton Rook died on March 18, 2019, just a few days shy of her 96th birthday. Predeceased by husband Robert Chittenden in 1945 and husband Douglas Lee Rook in 1995, Rook also lost her son Douglas, Jr. in 2003. She is survived by her daughters, Pamela Martin and Sandra Cruz, 13 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Although her early life came with tragedy, Rook overcame the sudden loss of her young husband Robert in World War II in the Battle of the Bulge on the date of what would have been their second wedding anniversary. The beloved poet went on to marry again, have three children, and achieve great accomplishments.
A poet with five published books of poetry, she was a member of the National League of American Pen Women’s Central New York Branch, until her death. She served as president of the branch in New York State. For many years, she also served as poetry editor at the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.
In recent years, Rook helped sponsor the CNY Branch poetry anthology, “In the Company of Women.” She always had an eye for the aesthetic, but she did not start writing poetry until after attending William Smith College through a lifelong learning program for adult students. She claimed her poetry was inspired by students, most notably Pen Woman Irene Latta. The title of her first poetry book was “Shifting Sands,” which was followed by “Hidden Universe.” She and her husband, Douglas, wrote “Sound of Thought” together. In 1988, Rook was awarded the Golden Medallion for winning the Australian International Poetry competition.
In addition to her writing and editing, Pearl Rook was a fine pianist, an avid boater with a camp in Sodus Bay where she spent 36 summers. She had also learned to fly a plane.