Thursday, October 31, 2013

Robert Jaffie, Former BHS Teacher (1922-1973)

Photo from 1955 BHS Ceralbus yearbook

It is always nice to remember those who made a difference in our lives...

Cathy, I am a '55 grad of BHS. I am forwarding this e-mail I received from the daughter of Robert and Margaret Jaffie. Her name is Nancy. Her mother's obit appears on "bhsinmemoriam.blogspot". Until her mother's obit was published no one in my class that I know of has been able to find out what happened to her father who was my English teacher at BHS.

Formerly student body president at UCLA in the 40's, Robert Jaffie was a highly respected and very popular teacher at BHS. His daughter told me that her father and mother were both teachers at BHS when they were married. Apparently the City of Burbank School Administration wouldn't allow a husband and wife to teach at the same school so Nancy's mother transferred to Burroughs and completed her teaching career there.

Anyway, I thought that graduates from the late 40's and early 50's would be interested to learn more about Robert Jaffie and your forum seemed like a good way to do that.

Dick Erickson

Hello Dick:

I found my father's obituary notice as it appeared in the Washington Post in April, 1973. I also scanned a copy of a poem that was composed and read at his memorial service by a close friend of his. It was a very lovely and touching poem and there was not a dry eye in the house when he stepped away from the podium.

Best regards,

Here is the Obituary for Nancy's mother...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Margaret Elizabeth List Jaffie, BHS Teacher

Margaret E. Jaffie, BHS Teacher

Margaret E. Jaffie, 88, a retired public affairs officer for the Voice of America who conducted thousands of public tours of the international broadcasting operation during a 20-year tenure, died Feb. 12, 2009 at her home in Sun City Center, Fla., after having a heart attack while swimming.

She was a former resident of the District.Leading five or more tour groups a day through VOA's headquarters at 330 Independence Ave. SW, Mrs. Jaffie explained the broadcast network's mission and operations, answered countless questions and, in her words, "told America's story to the world."Those to whom she gave tours included entertainer Pearl Bailey, an African king, the boxers Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard and U.S. service people who listened to VOA while stationed overseas.

They also included, on one occasion during the Cold War, two heavyset men with Russian accents who said they were from New York. They actually were journalists from Pravda, the official Soviet newspaper."They wrote that they visited the Voice of America and met a feisty old lady, wearing tennis shoes, who was spreading propaganda," Mrs. Jaffie recalled in a 2002 VOA interview. Her tennis shoes were a way to cope with the long, uncarpeted corridors of the VOA building.

She also recalled a young man from Hungary who took her tour. "He said, 'I want you to know my uncle went to jail for listening to the Voice of America. That's why I'm here. I wanted to hear it, too.'"I was thrilled," Mrs. Jaffie said.

In 1989, she received the Congressional Award for Exemplary Service to the Public. The citation read in part: "Mrs. Jaffie's pride and affection for VOA and its people are contagious. Visitors -- be they members of Congress, foreign diplomats or American high school students -- come away from her tours excited by what she has shown and told them."

She was born Margaret Elizabeth List in Scranton, N.D., and received a bachelor's degree in 1941 from St. Cloud State Teachers College (now St. Cloud State University) in Minnesota. After graduating, she moved to California, where she lived with an aunt and taught international relations and English at Burbank High School. (Future film star Debbie Reynolds was one of her students.) She also married a fellow teacher, Robert Jaffie.

A few years later, her husband joined the U.S. Information Agency Foreign Service, and in 1955, the couple began a 16-year odyssey that took them to India, Nepal, Pakistan and China. During their first overseas assignment in Calcutta, Mrs. Jaffie worked as a volunteer with Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. She also volunteered teaching American English and American culture to young Indians.

The Jaffies moved back to Washington in 1972 because of Robert Jaffie's failing health. After his death in 1973, Mrs. Jaffie became a State Department escort officer, arranging itineraries and accompanying foreign officials, academics, journalists and other visitors on tours of the United States.

She became a VOA tour guide the next year. At her retirement ceremony 20 years later, her colleagues presented her with a pair of tennis shoes dipped in bronze.In retirement, Ms. Jaffie lived in Falls Church and had a second home in Sun City Center, where she swam daily.

She made frequent trips to Egypt and later Botswana to visit her daughter and also made several trips to New Delhi to visit old friends. Survivors include her daughter, Nancy Jaffie of Springfield; and a sister. 

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