Hilary Evans Whittaker died quietly in January, 2021. She was a Bead Society member off and on throughout her life. She was instrumental in establishing the Bead Museum in DC.
My husband and I visited Hilary in Laguna Hills a few years ago. My husband and Hilary got along well because they were both “Vassar girls.”
She gave us several copies of James Lankton’s book, A Bead Timeline. Volume I: Prehistory to 1200 CE** for the Bead Society. The book was part of the Bead Timeline at the Bead Museum in DC. Installation of the Timeline exhibit was carried out by Jamey Allen, James Lankton, and Hilary Whittaker. It is about 34 feet long and displays some 5,000 beads which are organized by chronological time. Since the Bead Museum is now closed, I believe the Timeline is in the Mingei International Museum in San Diego.
She was a president of the Bead Society of Greater Washington and founding president of the Bead Museum, Washington DC. She retired to Southern California. There she expanded her hobby as a noted jewelry designer using globally collected beads, the oldest artifacts of mankind.
She will be missed by many in the bead community. She asked that in lieu of flowers any desired memorial contributions be made to Hilary E. Whittaker, Class of 1952, Vassar College, 124 Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601, for the Thompson Library Special Collections.
**James Lankton’s book, A Bead Timeline. Volume I: Prehistory to 1200 CE, 2003 is available from the Bead Society. Contact us for more information.
4/28/2021 09:10:08 am
I worked with Hilary in India when she was with the Peace Corps and had remained a friend over the years. We had planned to meet when Covid intervened. She brought incredible energy and commitment to everything she undertook. And she was a remarkably kind person who took an interest in the lives of all who were fortunate enough to know her. We will miss her greatly as, I know, will all the Peace Corps India people - volunteers and staff -- who knew her.
5/1/2021 07:34:13 pm
Thanks, Tom, I didn't know that about her. She was quite an interesting woman!
6/8/2021 08:51:54 pm
some how i found a link to a very interesting film, about Niger and the peace corps, when reading about this womans death. now i can't find it. but i saved the link to my facebook.
8/2/2021 06:52:37 pm
Hilary was my mother's best friend from high school. They had many fun times together and connected throughout their lives. The family joke was that Hilary travelled with my parents' on their honeymoon and the hotel concierge was a bit confused as to who of the three were the newlyweds. I will miss her intelligence, wit and all around gloriousness. Her creativity and positivity have been an inspiration for me throughout my life. There was never a dull moment with Hilary as she loved life and all of us. We have lost a real star. I'm so sad that the bead museum in DC closed as that would have been a physical legacy of how she treasured community and connection.
8/2/2021 09:03:46 pm
Thank you so much for your comment, Elizabeth. I'm
9/7/2021 05:15:41 am
Hilary was my first real 'boss', however, it would be more accurate to say she was my first real mentor. She was the Peace Corps Director in Mali and she hired me as an Associate Peace Corps Director to head up a new Small Enterprise Development program she wanted to start.
10/10/2021 08:02:08 am
Hilary was one-of-a-kind. I worked with her an Hugh Russell on one of my first consulting jobs reforming the way emergencies are handled in the US. She led our team to the concept of Comprehensive Emergency Management, a design to act on the entire lifecycle of hazards - mitigate then prepare for effects that cannot be controlled, respond when needed, recovery to improve resilience thus mitigating for the future. And a bead lady, too!
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