Kristin Vessey

Kristin Yahn Bergstrom Vessey died January 11, 2017 after a fall in her home at the age of 78 years. Born in Decatur, IL, to Dolores Yahn Bergstrom and Carl Arvid Bergstrom on 17 July 1939, she was the oldest of 4 children & is survived by 2 of them: Carla of Pennsylvania and Susan of Colorado. She was raised in Leonia, NJ, and lived there until she married college classmate Stephen Hulbert Vessey on 18 March 1962. They adopted 2 children, Nathan Yahn Vessey of Houston, Texas and Samantha Bergstrom Vessey Arvada, Colorado. There are 3 grandchildren: Renee Vessey, Adeline Hessel, and Aiden Hessel. She was preceded in death by her brother Stephen who passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2016 in Pennsylvania.

Kristin graduated from Leonia HS in NJ (1957) & Swarthmore College in PA (1961), majoring in Biology. She & her husband lived in Puerto Rico for 4 years before moving to Bowling Green, OH. She worked in various labs with Dr. William Jackson (rats), Nancy Seifert (salamanders), & Dr. Arthur Brecher (human hearts) and was taking courses such as Dr. Jane Forsyth’s geology. She had already started volunteer service to the community, e.g., the Wood County Health Dept’s Family Planning Clinic, which was replaced after a tumultuous time by Planned Parenthood.

After Samantha started 1st grade Kristin started graduate school at BGSU, earning her MS degree in 1985 (w/ Dr. Woodruff) and PhD in 1991 (w/ Dr. Underwood), both in biology, winning the Shanklin Award for her doctoral research on early development in Drosophila. She continued doing research and teaching in the Biology Dept., transferring to the Center for Environmental Programs from 1998 until June 2002. From February 2003 through June 2004 she was a Program Director in Environmental Biology at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, VA. In retirement she joined her husband’s long-term study of a white-footed mouse population in Carter Woods near Bowling Green.

Meanwhile her volunteer work continued: she had joined the League of Women Voters (LWV) in PR (where she edited the bilingual Voter) and remained an active League member all her life in many roles, including 3 stints as president of the LWVBG and service on the LWV Ohio board twice, as treasurer first and then as a director; she co-chaired its land use study from 1997-99, was the Land Use Specialist in the state League’s Lobby Corps from 2006 on, and was the League’s Elections Returns Coordinator for ABC News in 1980 (in pre-cell phone days). Her involvement with the BG Parks & Recreation Foundation began in 1999, after she had been a founder & chair of the Coalition for Green Space that raised the money for acquisition of the Bordner Meadow, now part of the Wintergarden Nature Preserve; she was president of the Foundation from 2007-2011. For over 20 years she was an admissions interviewer for Swarthmore College & served on its Alumni Council from 2010-2013. In 2006 she started serving as the citizen representative from Wood County on the wetland mitigation board provided by the North Coast Regional Council of Park Districts (formed by 5 counties), and continued in that role. Her 6 years on the board of the LWVO involved numerous efforts on behalf of the people of the state, including her last of 3 terms when she served as chair of the Advocacy & Education committee. Her chief concerns were water quality, fracking, and pipelines.

She was an enthusiastic gardener who suffered from ‘fear of harvest’ but canned a lot of the family’s food. Biking and walking were her main forms of exercise, having switched from tennis & running. She was always busy, whether cooking, working on her computer, reading, or birding. Steve and Kris travelled often and camped many places. In their later years they joined all of Garrison Keillor’s 11 ocean cruises with the cast of the Prairie Home Companion.

In accordance with Kristin’s wishes, there will be no funeral. A public gathering in her honor will be held later this year and will be announced at a later date. Arrangements have been entrusted Dunn Funeral Home, 408 West Wooster St. in Bowling Green.

Memorial contributions may be made in her memory to the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Foundation, 1291 Conneaut Ave., Bowling Green, OH 43402.

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