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Agnes Schenkman

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AGNES SCHENKMAN AGE: 87 DENVILLE Agnes Schenkman, 87, passed away Friday, Nov. 5, 2010 in Denville, NJ. She was born in New York City on October 16, 1923, the second child of Drs. Louis and Emma Selkin Aronson. She graduated from Hunter College High School, and completed her bachelor's degree at Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh, PA. With World War II raging, she was a "Rosie the Riveter," working nights in a steel mill and operating a crane and, in the jargon, ran a "skull crusher" on the midnight shift. She met Eugene Victor Schenkman in New York, and within weeks, they were engaged, marrying in New York on February 20, 1946. The young couple lived in many places in their early years together, completing their educations and establishing their careers. Eugene received his PhD at Yale University in 1950. They were then in Baton Rouge, LA; Princeton, NJ; Madison, WI; North Staffordshire, England and back to Baton Rouge with a child or two born at most of those places. During this time, Agnes completed a Masters of Social Work degree at Louisiana State University. With the upheavals of civil rights in 1960-61, after they took a stand in favor of school integration, they left Louisiana and moved to Indiana, where Eugene took a position as professor of mathematics at Purdue University. In Indiana, Agnes and Eugene established "Epsilon Acres," a unique 25-acre farm, where they raised their eight children, and welcomed many friends around their huge kitchen table. The children milked cows and took care of chickens, pigs, ducks, turkeys and sheep. All helped with the large garden and canning and freezing. Agnes and Eugene were admired, and consulted by the youth of the day in their quests to set up farm communes. Agnes was the primary baker, often making a dozen loaves of bread at a time for her large brood. She also became an amateur gourmet cook, particularly fond of ethnic foods. At this time at Purdue University she developed a full-time social-work curriculum which included significant social welfare activities by her hundreds of students in numerous agencies. Agnes and family spent 1972-1973 in Santiago, Chile, where she heard President Allende speak and Pablo Neruda recite poetry. She studied public welfare programs in the shanty towns, and hosted Reverend Ralph Abernathy in his visit there. Following the death of her husband in 1977, she began a new career as a therapist in Logansport, Indiana, first working at the Four County Mental Health Center, and subsequently at the Raj Clinic. She also collaborated in writing, "The World is Round", an oral history of her friend Anna Akeley, who escaped from Nazi Germany, fleeing through Russia and Siberia. She retired at age 80, and moved to Denville, NJ, near her son Andrew. Agnes was particularly proud of all eight children and of their successes in their chosen professions. She is survived by her children, Emily Manginelli, Margaret Schenkman, Andrew Schenkman, Daniel Schenkman, Laura Schenkman, Victoria Rosenkranz, Kenneth Schenkman, and Byron Schenkman. In addition to her eight children, she is survived by 17 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. Her entire life she stood up for social justice and caring for other people. Because of her personal commitment to those in need, in lieu of flowers, we suggest making donations to the local women's shelter or food bank of your choice.

Published in Daily Record on Nov. 9, 2010
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