WT was struck a double blow this winter when two former influential members of the Upper School passed away. Joan Helen Bloomquist Franklin served as the Director of Upper School from 1980–1997. She spent her life as a teacher and administrator, educating, encouraging, and mentoring her students. Dr. Susanne ‘Sue’ W. Hershey served as an English and History Teacher at WT from 1968–1977 and as School and College Counselor from 1977–1998. She was an influential and caring teacher and administrator.

(Back Row, L–R) Honorary Alumna Gaylen Westfall, Sue Hershey, Joan Franklin; (Seated) Former Head of School and Honorary Alumna Judith ‘Judy’ Chamberlain

Tributes to Mrs. Franklin:

“She was a great teacher and a lovely, inspiring person.”
—Kerry Bron ’84, Trustee

“Mrs. Franklin could be imposing—perhaps it was those Pilgrim shoes, or the way she used them to stride, with frowning focus and intensity, through the school halls. But she also regularly put up with my shenanigans, could be genuinely hilarious, and was often disarmingly loopy. She called me ‘Lizzie-Lou’ even when I was in trouble, never seemed phased when I barged into her office, and always listened to my side of whatever story I’d gotten myself tangled up in.

One of my favorite memories of her was the time she found a condom on the floor near the lockers. The Winchester Thurston School could be as infuriatingly fusty, old-school, prim, and conservative as its name implies, but then again, there Joan stood in her sensible shoes, rooted in the post-lunch rush, condom raised high above her head as we all swirled noisily around her in our rush to class. ‘THIS IS WONDERFUL!’ she shouted, eyes raised above the throng. ‘THIS IS RESPONSIBLE! I AM PLEASED! THIS IS GOOD.’

I’m so sorry to learn of her death, but am also so glad to have known her, learned from her, gotten to see her in action—especially at the time in my life when I did. Rest in peace, Joan. You had such an impact. Thank you.”
—Elizabeth Wollman ’87

“I admit to spending more time in her office than I should have—and she was stern and demanding but also had that balance for humor and understanding. She was always telling us that if we swallowed our chewing gum it would get stuck in our duodenums…none of us knew what a duodenum was, but it sounded very bad. She helped shape the lives of a generation of WT women.”
—Jennifer Gonzalez McComb ’89, Trustee

“I am sad to hear about the death of Joan Franklin. She was a wonderful Director of Upper School, always taking a keen interest in our lives…from helping us choose our courses every year, to paying attention to our extracurricular activities, to hounding us for pulling our hiked-up uniform skirts back down to knee-level every day. She lived next door to my violin teacher in Squirrel Hill, so I would often exchange hellos with her as I was leaving my lesson in the early evening and she was just coming home.”
—Lynn Bechtold ’90

“After all these years, Mrs. Franklin remains one of the most important educators and mentors I have ever had. I don’t know how many students truly saw the depths she would go to advocate for and support them. Her steadfast passion and dedication were matched only by her patience and humor. I can only imagine how tiresome the students’ (ok my) impressions of her must have been! In her message to me in my senior yearbook she wrote, ‘You pack a mighty wallop for such a small person … we expect great things from you. – Joanie (Franklin)’ I don’t know how many great things I have accomplished, but I do know without a doubt that even after all these years, my life is better because of Mrs. Franklin. She will be dearly missed.”
—Amelia ‘Amy’ Matlack Hamarman ’90

“Joan was the first person that I ever met at WT. I pestered her into interviewing me for a science teaching position in 1996. Every time I came to Pittsburgh from the U.K. I would request a meeting, which she always took, just to ask if there would be any positions open when I moved to the states in 1997. She was a kind and visionary leader who gave me the chance to work at WT as Physics Teacher and Science Department Chair. Unfortunately, her last day as Director of Upper School was the day before I started at WT, and I never had the chance to work with her. I know she was loved by faculty and students alike and will be missed by many.”
—Mick Gee, Director of Upper School, 1997 – 2012


Tributes to Dr. Hershey:

“Please accept my deepest condolences on the passing of the best (ninth grade) English Teacher ever. As I’m sure many others of us will agree, Dr. Hershey, as she was called in those days, was always approachable and cool without ever trying or thinking about cool. I’ve adored Dr. Hershey all these years, I have thought often of things we learned from her.”
—Christine Larson ’71

“I am very sorry to learn of Sue Hershey’s passing. I first met Sue when she became my riding instructor, one of the most talented instructors I had. Imagine my surprise the following September when I was assigned to her English class during her first year at WT. Sue was an even greater English Teacher who gave challenging assignments and always provided insightful comments. In addition, she was always available for any student who needed help, either with schoolwork or something more personal. I am so thankful to have benefited from her wisdom and I will never forget her.”
—Joan MacGregor ’71

“Dr. Hershey was my History Teacher in seventh grade, my first year at WT. Initially, I was somewhat afraid of her because she was demanding. However, she taught me how to efficiently take notes. That ended up being a lifelong gift. I stopped being afraid and I worked to excel in her class. I will always be grateful to her.”
—Pamela Schaper Cabalka ’72

“I was very saddened to hear about the passing of Dr. Sue Hershey. She was my College Counselor. Furthermore, I gained such a positive experience having her as my Psychology Teacher during my senior year at WT. In fact, she made me so enthralled with the subject that I became a psych major in college. She was always there when we needed her to be. I always felt comfortable talking to her in her office and answering any questions I had about my future life choices. She was always honest while never judging what you had to say. Dr. Hershey was both a great educator and wonderful human being!”
—Elizabeth Wollman ’87

“The news of Dr. Hershey’s passing so soon after Mrs. Franklin is devastating. I have struggled with words to describe the strength, resolve, and steadfastness with which Dr. Hershey guided us in all the hats she wore. Her psychology class was a master class in how to lead immersive, thought provoking discussions that drew out students with sometimes vastly different perspectives, ideas, feelings, etc. She taught us how to let down our guard and really listen and really consider another’s point of view. We were all so lucky beyond words to have had both Dr. Hershey and Mrs. Franklin. Both were hands-down two of the best educators I ever had in all my nearly 25 years as a student in various capacities. She will be dearly missed. Thank you, Dr. Hershey.”
—Amelia ‘Amy’ Matlack Hamarman ’90