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Unitarian Society Of New Haven
700 Hartford Tpke
Hamden, CT 06517
(203) 288-1807
Memorial service
Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019
11:30 AM
Unitarian Society of New Haven
700 Hartford Turnpike
Hamden, CT
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Caroline Bridgman-Rees


1922 - 2019
Caroline Bridgman-Rees Obituary
Bridgman-Rees, Caroline
Caroline Bridgman-Rees of Hamden, Connecticut passed away peacefully at the age of 96 on August 28, 2019. She was surrounded by her loving family during her last days. She was born on December 31, 1922, the daughter of Ray Bridgman, a college professor and World War I fighter pilot in the Lafayette Escadrille, and Dorothea Eaglesfield Bridgman, a French teacher and pianist. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Smith College in 1944, she served with the American Red Cross in the Philippines and Korea. Her experiences in Korea gave her a lifelong interest in Asia, leading her to earn a Master's Degree in Asian History from Yale. There she met her husband, Thomas Rees, a graduate student at Yale who subsequently worked as a chemist and taught high school and college chemistry. They were happily married from 1948 until his death in 1997. She resided in Plainfield, NJ; Cincinnati, Ohio; Andover, MA; and since 1984 in Hamden. She taught Asian history and women's studies at Abbot Academy, Phillips Academy, Bradford College, Northeastern University, and Southern Connecticut State University. She was a constant and vocal advocate for peace, the environment, and women's rights, serving in leadership positions with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and as an elected delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention. In 1973 she traveled through war-torn Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, writing a detailed diary, Pilgrimage to Indochina, about her experiences and observations. In 1975 she was one of the first Americans to visit the People's Republic of China. In 1978 she coordinated the resettlement of over 200 Vietnamese refugees to the Greater Lawrence, MA area, and received Lawrence's Immigrant City Award for her successful effort to secure housing, employment, and educational opportunities for the refugees as they transitioned to life in the United States. Among her many activities in the cause of peace, she advocated on behalf of the Nuclear Freeze movement through many speeches in England in 1982. After her retirement, she maintained her deep interest in public affairs while also serving the local New Haven community, pursuing her passion for music and nature by playing piano duets and taking walks at local parks with close friends, providing love and support to her extended family, and serving as a friend and mentor to many in the local community and beyond. During her last years she resided at Whitney Center in Hamden, served on the board of the United Nations Association of Connecticut, and actively participated in the Greater New Haven Peace Council. She taught English to immigrants and foreign students well into her 90s, and until her last days maintained an environmental bulletin board at Whitney Center. Aside from her husband, she was predeceased by two brothers, David and James Bridgman. She is survived and missed greatly by her four children, Thomas (Josephine) of Gladwyne, PA; Dorothea (William Edwards) of Cambridge, MA; William (Wendy) of Cromwell; and Jonathan (Carolyn) of Kensington, MD, and her five grandchildren, Ted, Jackie, Dan, Nathaniel, and Andrew Rees. She is also survived by many extended family members and friends in the community whose lives were touched by her kindness and generosity of spirit. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 2, 2019, at 11:30 a.m., at the Unitarian Society of New Haven, 700 Hartford Turnpike, Hamden. In lieu of flowers, gifts in her memory may be given to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (USA for UNHCR) or to Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, New Haven, CT (irisct.org).
Published in The New Haven Register on Sept. 15, 2019
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