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In Memoriam

Lawrence Otis Graham
Lawyer, author, and activist Lawrence Otis Graham, passed away on February 19, 2021 at his home in Chappaqua. Graham served on the Purchase College Foundation Board of Trustees from 2009–2017 as a member of the PCF Board’s Student Success Committee. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, at age 30 he famously went undercover as a busboy at an all-white country club in Greenwich, CT, exposing racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism in “Invisible Man,” a widely read cover story he wrote about his experience, published in New York magazine. The story became the basis for his 1995 bestselling book Member of the Club: Reflections on Life in a Racially Polarized World, one of 14 books he wrote, which also included Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class (1999). A TV drama based on the latter, currently in production by FOX, is scheduled to premiere in 2021–2022.

Graham was special counsel at Cuddy & Feder, LLP specializing in real estate law, land use and governmental affairs, and served on many boards throughout his career.

One of Purchase’s long-term employees, Dan Sedgwick, passed away on Friday, January 1, 2021. Sedgwick worked at The Performing Arts Center for more than 30 years, where he held a wide range of roles, always with kindness and the utmost professionalism. Over the years, he served as Director of Operations, Operations Manager and Production Manager, and General Manager.

Seth Soloway, formerly director of The PAC, called Sedgwick a beloved colleague, friend to many, and irreplaceable, adding, “Dan was truly the master of our amazing building; there was not a corner or aspect of it that he couldn’t tell you everything about from memory. When something broke, our first move was always to go get Dan. Dan did everything with warmth and a smile. No matter how busy he was, Dan was always glad to stop for a chat, a story, a joke, or to offer advice. When moments were difficult Dan was always even-keeled, a calming presence for us all.” The College conveys its sincerest condolences to his family and his many friends.

Elliot Quick, adjunct professor in Theatre and Performance, passed away in February 2020. Quick was an accomplished dramaturg and producer, as well as an active teacher here at Purchase and at the Maggie Flanagan acting studio in New York City, among other institutions. Quick taught Intro to Theatre and Performance and Documentary Theatre. Many students he worked with expressed that Quick was a significant influence on them artistically and academically.

David Graeber ’84, (anthropology) considered by many in the anthropology field to be one of the most brilliant minds of his generation, passed away in September 2020. Graeber was known for his study of anarchy and probably best known for his role in coining the phrase “We are the 99%” during the early phases of the Occupy Wall Street movement. He was the author of Bullshit Jobs: A Theory and Debt: The First 5,000 Years. He also wrote Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value, Lost People, and Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire. He had written for Harpers, The Nation, Mute, and The New Left Review. Most recently, he was a professor at the London School of Economics.

Terry Burch ’98 (drama studies) passed away on August 3, 2020. He was an RA,an all-around incredible spirit, and beloved friend who will be greatly missed.

Elizabeth Weiss ’77 (literature) passed away peacefully on June 12, 2020 in Syracuse, NY following a long illness.

Bradley Fields (Feldstein) ’73 (philosophy) passed away May 5, 2020 of coronavirus. He was an actor, director, and acclaimed magician.

Michael J. Costa ’86 (acting) died peacefully at Winchester Hospital on February 3, 2020 in Winchester, Massachusetts.

Daisha Riley ’06 (journalism), a talented producer on ABC’s Good Morning America, died unexpectedly in July 2020.

ToniAnn Chianese ’18 (creative writing) passed away November 14, 2019 at home. Chianese was the winner of the 2018 Dina Reutershan Memorial Prize.