Billie Kallick Press

Obituary
  • "I have loved you Billie since first we met. My deepest..."
    - Harry Ludas
  • "Mrs. Press was my third grade teacher at Audubon Elementary..."
  • "Mrs. Press was my third grade teacher at Audubon Elementary..."
    - Kit Ross
  • "My deepest sympathy to Frank, Paula and Bill. Billie was..."
  • "I was so sorry to hear about Billie's passing. I worked..."
    - Dotty Covalucci

PRESS--Billie Kallick, died February 12, 2009, in Washington, DC, of heart failure after a long illness. An educator, Billie Press was an early post-Sputnik visitor to the USSR, accompanying her husband, geophysicist Frank Press (later science adviser to President Jimmy Carter and President of the National Academy of Sciences) during International Geophysical Year 1957-8 to Moscow when such visits were still quite rare. Returning home to Pasadena, CA, she argued successfully for one of the first "Gifted Child" programs that became a part of the public response to Sputnik. She founded and directed such a program in the Pasadena City Schools 1962-65, which involved training 250 teachers. At the same time that Sputnik was galvanizing a broad response in the US, universal education in the Soviet Union under Khrushchev had been cut from 10 years to 8, with only 10% going on to higher education. Billie appreciated the irony of this, publishing an article quoting her interview with a high Soviet official, "It is bad policy to educate so many people beyond the stations they will occupy in life." Of course Billie didn't agree with this one bit! Obtaining her doctorate in 1968, she went on to found the HomeBased Early Childhood Education program in the Cambridge, MA, public schools, a kind of "each one teach one" in which economically disadvantaged mothers themselves became trained and employed as home visitors to other disadvantaged families, bringing books and educational materials into the homes of toddlers. She later taught at Salem State College and Lesley College, and was, in Washington, DC, a specialist in HEW's Bureau of Elementary and Secondary Education (1978-79). Born October 15, 1925, in St. Louis, MO, Billie grew up in Brooklyn, NY, the daughter of New York Times compositor and proofreader William Kallick and Mary Enders Kallick. Attending Samuel J. Tilden High School, she qualified for a full scholarship to NYU, where she graduated in 1946, marrying Frank Press (her highschool sweetheart) the same month. She is survived by her husband, her children William Press of Austin, TX, and Paula Press of Chapel Hill, NC, 2 grandchildren and 2 greatgrandchildren.
Published in The New York Times on Mar. 1, 2009