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Remembering Past President Roselmina “Lee” Indrisano

By Colleen Patrice Clark
 | Apr 23, 2020

Indrisano_w350Roselmina “Lee” Indrisano, who served our organization as president from 1986 to 1987, died earlier this week.

A past fellow of the National Conference on Research in English and editor of Journal of Education—the oldest education journal in the United States—Indrisano was a widely recognized scholar, particularly when it came to issues related to early literacy development and enhancement of struggling readers and their families.

This is the second hit for our literacy community this week, as the sad news was received just one day after hearing of the passing of past president Dorothy S. Strickland.

Indrisano was professor emerita at Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, where she received the university’s Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching as well as the university’s Teacher-Scholar Award. In addition to being inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame in 1990, she served as the organization’s president from 1993 to 1994.

Indrisano did not wish for her passing to be formally recognized, as was in line with her humble nature. However, we wanted to share with permission the tribute that was sent to the Reading Hall of Fame community by Indrisano’s close friend and colleague Jeanne Paratore, professor emerita, Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development.

It is with a very heavy heart that I write to say that our colleague, Lee Indrisano, has passed away. Many of you knew Lee as a remarkable scholar, a trusted and loyal friend, and a model of grace, elegance, and thoughtfulness. Lee was a teaching exemplar, bringing all that she knew about research in teaching and learning to its practice, whether in an advanced graduate seminar or a tutorial with a first grader.

Her relentless pursuit of excellence extended well beyond teaching and learning to all of her professional endeavors. We saw it when she hosted a conference for thousands of participants, a meeting for 20, or a dinner party for 12. We even saw and heard her commitment to excellence in her personal style, in her attention to every detail of her appearance, in the words she spoke, and in the manner in which she spoke them. For me, she was all of this and, in addition, a truly incredible mentor and the most loving, generous, and loyal friend anyone could hope to have. I will miss her deeply, but I am comforted by the knowledge that she lives on in the work of so many others who were so lucky to have been touched by her.

While Lee did not want us to formally recognize her passing, her niece and nephews have spent these last days thinking about all of the things that Lee loved doing in her healthier years. One thing that stood out for them was Lee’s love of giving books, especially children’s books, to them, to their children, and to the many, many children she reached through her professional work.

Lee’s niece, Alison (Indrisano) Wagner, is a volunteer with an organization in Tampa [Florida] called Kay’s Ministry. Kay’s serves the homeless and very needy in the city of Tampa and in a migrant community called Wimauma. In honor of Lee, Alison plans to purchase backpacks and children’s books for each of the Wimauma children. The children love to read. Books in English and Spanish are always scooped up when they are donated. The libraries are currently closed, which has greatly impacted the children.

If you would like to assist Alison in this campaign, you can send your favorite children’s book or a donation (check made out to Kay’s Ministry) to Alison. Her address is:

Alison Wagner
509 Manns Harbor Drive
Apollo Beach, FL 33572

Colleen Patrice Clark is the managing editor of Literacy Today, ILA’s member magazine.

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