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VERA BEAUDIN SAEEDPOUR FORT PLAIN, N.Y. - Dr. Vera Beaudin Saeedpour passed away suddenly on Sunday, May 30 in upstate New York where she had moved recently from Brooklyn, N.Y. She was 80 years old. Vera Marion Fine was born in 1930 in Barre to the late Harry and Gertrude Fine. She raised five children in a house on Shelburne Point, designed by her first husband, architect Marcel Beaudin. In 1968, inspired by the late Burlington plastic surgeon and family friend Bernard Barney, she packed up her four youngest children, age four to eleven, and embarked on a yearlong odyssey to Israel to "discover" her "Jewish roots." Dr. Saeedpour began attending the University of Vermont at age 40, and proved an exceptional student, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology and a membership in Phi Beta Kappa. She went on to earn a Master's Degree in Philosophy in 1973, then moved to New York City to complete a doctoral program in Education at Columbia University's Teachers College. In 1976, she met her second husband, Homayoun Saeedpour, a Kurd from Iran. An unsuspecting question from him about a definition in Oxford's English Dictionary in which Kurds were described as "predatory" led her to write a research paper entitled "Killing Them Softly," prompting Oxford and other major dictionaries to revise their definitions of the term. In 1981, following Homayoun's death from leukemia, Dr. Saeedpour began her "Kurdish work" in earnest. She founded The Kurdish Program under the auspices of Cultural Survival, a publication of Harvard's Department of Anthropology. The program was designed to raise awareness of Kurdish culture and operated out of a Midtown office where Dr. Saeedpour worked as the Executive Assistant to Manhattan real estate developer Seymour Durst. By 1986, Dr. Saeedpour had established the Kurdish Library (the first in the Western Hemisphere) on the parlor floor of a corner brownstone in Brooklyn's Prospect Heights. The Kurdish Museum followed in 1988. Prior to the first Gulf War, which represented a milestone in raising American awareness of the Kurdish issue, Dr. Saeedpour led Jalal Talabani, the current president of Iraq, on a lecture tour to major universities and to Washington, D.C. to meet politicians and the press. Dr. Saeedpour's letters to the editor were published numerous times by the New York Times, and most recently an article about the Kurdish Library appeared in the "Habitats" section of the Times entitled "The Home as Cultural Refuge." Her scholarly publications, The International Journal of Kurdish Studies and Kurdish Life are part of the collections of leading university libraries internationally, including Harvard, Yale, and her alma mater, Columbia University. Dr. Saeedpour is survived by her brother, Max Fine; five children, Marc, Paul, Rebecca, Adam and Jeb; and two grandchildren, Jonah and Aaron. Memorial services will be held in New York City in late July and in Burlington in early August. For more information, visit www.

Published in The Burlington Free Press on June 5, 2010
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