September 15, 2004
Memorial set for lecturer Kathleen Namphy
By BARBARA PALMER
A memorial service for Kathleen Namphy, a lecturer emerita in English and the humanities, will be held at Memorial Church at 4 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 21. Namphy died Aug. 22 in Iran after being injured while mountain climbing.
Namphy, 69, was a lecturer in English and the humanities from 1975 until she retired in 1996. Since then, Namphy continued to be a campus presence, teaching Continuing Studies and Alumni Association classes and participating in peacemaking activities. "Namphy was a beloved figure at Stanford," President John Hennessy said. “She will be especially missed by the generations of students she taught over the years. Kathleen imparted to them a passionate love of learning and a fearless approach to intellectual challenges.”
Namphy was born April 24, 1935, in Park Falls, Wis., and grew up in remote ranger stations in the Pacific Northwest, where her father was a forest ranger. After graduating with honors from the University of Washington, Namphy worked as a language analyst in the Peruvian jungle and wrote a descriptive grammar of an Amazonian tribal language. She later studied Elizabethan drama at Oxford University on a Fulbright grant. In 1957, she won a gold medal in the high jump at the East-West Games in Moscow.
At age 21, she set off to retrace the footsteps of Alexander the Great and Marco Polo, hiking for six weeks through the Hindu Kush range and hacking her way though jungle growth as she traveled by jeep along the Burma Road.
During the 1960s, Namphy taught English and literature at the Beirut College for Women and at the American University of Beirut. After earning a master's degree in English at the University of Portland, Namphy became a teaching fellow at Stanford in 1971. She became a lecturer in undergraduate studies in 1975.
Following her retirement, Namphy had traveled frequently to the Middle East to teach and work for peace causes. She recently had taught poetry at the University of Baghdad and, as a volunteer with the Christian Peacemaker Teams, took food and medicine into some of the Middle East's most war-torn and dangerous areas.
A memorial fund in Namphy’s name has been established to advance causes including education, peace activism, breast cancer research and environmental conservation. Contributions may be sent to The Kathleen K. Namphy Memorial Fund, The San Francisco Foundation, 225 Bush Street, Suite 500, San Francisco, Calif. 94014.
Namphy is survived by her four children, Lisa, of Palo Alto; Mychel, of New York City; Andre, of Hong Kong; and Paul, of Florida; two sisters, Pat Spada, of Clayton, Calif., and Kay Frawley, of Puyallup, Wash., and two grandchildren.