This page pays tribute to Neighbors Abroad's leaders and champions who have passed away. Their contributions to our organization, our Sister Cities, the City of Palo Alto, and to the greater Silicon Valley region will forever be remembered and appreciated.
Aurelio Macedonio Espinosa Jr.
Aurelio Macedonio Espinosa Jr. passed away in July 2004 at the age of 97. He served as Neighbors Abroad's president from 1970-71. He was a long time resident of Palo Alto and Professor of Spanish at Stanford University. Aurelio was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1907, and moved to Palo Alto in 1910 when his father joined the Stanford faculty. He graduated from Palo Alto High School and Stanford University. He continued graduate study at the University of Madrid in Spain, completing his Doctorate in 1932. He remained in Spain conducting research on linguistics and folklore until 1936, when he accepted a teaching position at Harvard University. Commissioned into the US Army in 1942, he spent the next four years at the US Military Academy as an instructor in foreign languages. While at West Point, he helped establish the Russian language program. In 1946, he returned to Stanford, accepting a position in the Department of Romance Languages, where he remained until his retirement in 1972.
Iraida Busó Espinosa
Iraida Busó Espinosa passed away peacefully in her Los Altos home on January 5, 2023, a month shy of her 105th birthday. A musician, mother, teacher, and community volunteer, Iraida had boundless energy, loved spending time with family and friends, and believed in taking full advantage of the opportunities that life presented. Iraida was born in Humacao, Puerto Rico, on February 22, 1918, the youngest of five children born to Monserrate Carrasquillo Martinez and Francisco Busó Cabrero. Iraida retired from teaching in the Palo Alto Unified School District in 1983 and focused her energies on community service. A longtime member of Neighbors Abroad, she served as the organization’s president from 1983–84 and remained active throughout the 1980s and 1990s. She developed a special interest in Palo, Leyte, Palo Alto’s sister city in the Philippines, and worked to raise funding for a children’s library and vocational training center there.
Joe Carleton, a longtime Palo Alto community activist, devotee of Neighbors Abroad, and husband of longtime past-board member Ruth Carleton, passed away in October 2000. Joe was responsible for securing the first delivery of a Palo Alto firetruck to Oaxaca. He also was active with Sister City Palo, Leyte, the Philippines. In that capacity, he recruited a team of Interplast doctors to travel with him to Palo to teach doctors there how to perform surgery on children with cleft palates. The Giants Club of Palo named its computer center, and later its library, in his honor. A Palo Alto resident for more than 30 years, he received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from MIT and his master's degree from Stanford University. He came to the West Coast while serving in the Navy Reserves in San Diego before settling in Palo Alto in the early 1960s. He spent most of his career as a forensic scientist, analyzing the mechanical causes of accidents. Joe was active in the civil right movement, the anti-war movement, and supported the United Farm Workers of America. He also was a devoted environmentalist and once served as Conservation Chair of the Loma Prieta chapter of the Sierra Club.
Margery Theobald Collins
Marge Collins, a long-time Palo Alto educator and former president of Neighbors Abroad, died in October 2010. Marge graduated from high school in Manilla, Iowa in 1950, where she was the valedictorian of her class. She spent two years at the University of Northern Iowa and then received her undergraduate degree from Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. After coming to California, Marge earned two Master's Degrees from San Jose State University. Marge taught first grade and worked as a literacy specialist in the Palo Alto Unified School District beginning in 1965. In addition to serving as president of Neighbors Abroad, she was a board member of the United Nations Association, Environmental Volunteers, Palo Alto Historical Association, and advisory board member for the Palo Alto Historical Museum and Gamble Garden. She was a Tall Tree recipient in 1994 and A Friend of Education in 2006.
Past president and longtime member Barbara Evans passed away on September 2, 2022. Barbara and her husband Joe joined Neighbors Abroad in 1998. It did not take long for Barbara to make an indelible mark on the organization. She enthusiastically committed herself to a wide array of Sister City committees, board meetings, fundraisers, delegation visits and exchange programs. Barbara was also a formidable leader: In 2007, when Neighbors Abroad lacked a clear candidate to lead the organization, Barbara and Joe stepped up to become co-presidents. As Barbara noted in a 2016 edition of "El Chisme de Neighbors Abroad," the "interim" position ended up lasting nine years! We honor Barbara's lasting contributions to Neighbors Abroad. She leaves a legacy of leadership, advocacy and selfless dedication. The photo here, published in 2013 by the Palo Alto Online & Palo Alto Weekly to coincide with Neighbors Abroad's 50th anniversary, captures Barbara as we will all remember her: Focused, energized and eager to spread Neighbors Abroad's mission to foster lasting friendships across borders.
Betty Watkins Gerard died peacefully at her home of 61 years in Palo Alto, CA on November 16, 2022, at age 97. Born in Seattle, Washinton, on February 23, 1925, she was the only child of Flora and Alva Leland (A.L.) Watkins. Both sides of her family included pioneers who’d arrived in Washington by covered wagon. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Washington, she earned her MBJ at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 1948. (As one of just five women in her class, Betty was flattered when a professor praised her by saying she “wrote like a man.”) Betty’s working career included public relations/writing positions at Westinghouse, Sunset Magazine and Raychem, before spending 22 years as a writer and editor for Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto. Betty applied her journalism skills to producing newsletters, press releases, and ads for a number of community organizations, including Neighbors Abroad. She also devoted time to the Palo Alto Historical Association, the League of Women Voters, and the World Affairs Council–Peninsula Chapter. Her interests included international travel (one highlight: being in Berlin when the Wall came down) and photography.
James Donald McCavitt
James Donald McCavitt passed away on April 13, 2018. Born and raised in the Appalachian coal mining town of Defiance, Pennsylvania, Jim served in the U.S. Navy and attended Pennsylvania State University. Jim eventually settled in Palo Alto where he taught hundreds of elementary school children from the 1960s through the 1990s in the Palo Alto Unified School District. Several generations learned the Golden Rule from Jim and often heard his favorite adage: "Common sense is very uncommon!" During school vacations, Jim traveled the world, visiting over 100 countries in his lifetime. He loved exploring new cultures, meeting new people and collecting the works of local artisans. Neighbors Abroad was always close to his heart. He was dedicated to the children of Oaxaca, and in particular to the programs of Niño a Niño (now Vidas y Sueños). Jim’s bequest to Neighbors Abroad has benefited countless children in Oaxaca.
Ralph White, a Los Altos resident, passed away in January 2001. He was 75. Ralph was a Neighbors Abroad board member for many years and worked closely with at least four Sister Cities beginning in 1987. He served as president in the early 1980s. Because of his Swedish heritage, he had a particular interest Linköping and helped establish that Sister City, along with Neighbors Abroad's Dutch Sister City, Enschede.