SAFA--Helen I., 82, pioneering anthropologist of Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and Latin America, died on November 4 in Gainesville, FL. Her work on women, families, gender politics and ideologies combined solid scholarship with a political thrust entailing an unbending commitment to social equality and a steadfast belief that scholarship can bring about positive societal change. Born in 1930 in NYC to German immigrant parents and a graduate of Cornell University, she turned to anthropology at Columbia University, where she earned her MA in 1958 and her Ph.D. in 1962. She taught anthropology and urban planning at Rutgers University in '67 and took over as director of the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) at the University of Florida in Gainesville in '80. She was the president of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) from '83-85, and professor of anthropology and Latin American Studies at the University of Florida until retirement in '97. Significant publications include The Urban Poor of Puerto Rico ('74), and The Myth of the Male Breadwinner ('95). In 2007, she received LASA's highest honor, the Kalman Silvert Award, given for distinguished lifetime contributions to the study of Latin America and the Caribbean. She was married to Manouchehr Safa from 1962 to his death in 1994 and is survived by their daughter, Mitra, and stepchildren Kaveh and Arya, and her second husband John Dumoulin, whom she married in 1999. She leaves behind an extended family including daughter-in-law Michele, son-in-law Roland, stepson Sebas and wife Silvina, and grandchildren Arman, Laylee, Nicolas, Alexis, Anna, Pablo, Bailey, Ethan, and baby Luca.
Published in The New York Times on Nov. 10, 2013