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Jeanne Bendick

BENDICK, JEANNE Jeanne Bendick, Noted Children’s Science Book Author and Illustrator, Dies at 95. Jeanne Bendick, the author and/or illustrator of more than 100 children’s books, has died at 95. She was a resident of Guilford, Connecticut, and was married for 68 years to Robert L. Bendick, a pioneer television and movie director and producer, who died in 2008. Born in New York City in 1919 and a graduate of the Parsons School of Design in 1939, Jeanne Bendick began her career by creating illustrations for “Jack and Jill” Magazine while still at Parsons. During World War II, both Bendick and her husband offered their services full-time; he enlisted in the Army Air Forces, she joined the American Women’s Voluntary Services. Jeanne Bendick’s last book, Herodotus and the Road to History, was published in 2009, when she was 91. During her 70 years of work she wrote on a wide variety of subjects, from television and time to astronomy and ecology. In the period 1973 to 1975, Bendick was a member of a three-author team, including Roy Gallant and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, who wrote the Ginn Science Program, a textbook series for grades K–8. She also collaborated with her husband on educational television programs. Jeanne Bendick had a remarkable ability through her straightforward writing and illustration to present complex scientific concepts in a form that was understandable by children. She presented future trends in science far ahead of common acceptance and understanding. Over the course of her career, she was a longstanding member of the Authors’ Guild and was a staunch defender of the role of science in society and of the importance of science education. In 2007 and 2010, she worked with one of her grand-daughters, Dr. Rebecca Bendick Kier, to create posters in Urdu and Haitian Creole informing local people in Asia and the Caribbean about earthquake hazards. In commenting on her own work, Jeanne Bendick said, “If I were a fairy godmother, my gift to every child would be curiosity.” Writing about Bendick’s The First Book of Space Travel (1953), blogger Maria Popova said in 2013, “Illustrated science books by women are a heartening rarity even today, so a woman who got kids excited about science half a century ago is nothing short of a cultural hero.” Jeanne Bendick’s manuscripts and original illustrations are housed at the libraries of the University of Oregon and the de Grummond Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi. Jeanne Bendick is survived by a son, Robert Bendick Jr. of Winter Park Florida; a daughter, Karen Watson of Lexington, Massachusetts; five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. A memorial celebration will be scheduled in mid-May in Guilford, Connecticut. In lieu of flowers, contributions should be made to the Guilford, Connecticut, Public Library.
Published in The New Haven Register on Mar. 18, 2014
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