Margaret Chave Fallers, 92, whose passion for teaching, literacy and administrative fairness touched the lives of many in many parts of the world, died on February 20 at her home in Carolina Meadows Retirement Community in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Margaret Elinor Chave was born on July 12, 1922, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where her father, a Canadian Baptist minister, was serving as pastor of a church. They moved several years later to Chicago where her father joined the faculty of the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. Growing up in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, she and her two brothers, Grant and Keith, attended the Laboratory Schools, where she was later to become a popular social studies teacher and principal.
Margaret Fallers was a graduate of Oberlin College. She held two MA’s, one in anthropology from the University of Chicago and one in teaching from the University of California at Berkeley. As a young anthropologist just after World War II she was invited to serve as a teaching assistant at the University of Hawaii and then traveled to the Marshall Islands to do field work. She then collaborated professionally with her first husband, social and cultural anthropologist Lloyd Ashton (“Tom”) Fallers. They made their home in Chicago, but also lived and worked in England, Uganda and Turkey. After Tom Fallers’s premature death in 1974, Mrs. Fallers became Associate Provost of the University of Chicago, retiring in 1995 to Chapel Hill where her younger daughter, Beth Lamanna, lives with her husband, Roger.
At every opportunity in her long career, Mrs. Fallers pushed herself and her colleagues toward an intelligent transformative engagement with the world. As a young anthropologist Mrs. Fallers eagerly participated in the anthropology of what were to become “the new nations” of a globalizing world. While teaching at the University of Chicago High School she introduced one of the first high school level African history courses in the country. As Associate Provost of the University of Chicago she was among the pioneers of a new period in university accountability and regulatory compliance, including with standards of access, equality of opportunity, and fair treatment. She was universally admired for her honesty, sound judgment, and genuine concern for all who worked for the University. She was both fiercely loyal and often critical of the university she loved and served.
Upon her retirement in 1995 she spent several months serving as registrar on an archaeological dig in Amman, Jordan, once more throwing herself into learning the local culture and bettering the lives of those around her. She was particularly proud of her role in mentoring the young women archaeologists who worked with her on the dig. Always eager to share her own intense interest in the world, she took each of her grandchildren on an overseas trip organized around one of their own interests.
In her retirement Margaret volunteered for Planned Parenthood, worked in the local public schools, and taught adult literacy courses. In 1999 she married John (“Jack”) Parry, a retired engineer, and moved to Carolina Meadows where they were actively involved in local Democratic politics. As President of the Carolina Meadows Residents Association she helped to shape the employee benefits program and the association’s charitable giving, in addition to captaining the ping pong team. Together she and Jack supported and followed with great interest the lives and careers of each of the members of their large joint family, numbering more than thirty children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Jack Parry died in January 2015.
Margaret Fallers is survived by her daughters, Winnifred Fallers Sullivan and Beth Fallers Lamanna, her sons-in-law, Barry Sullivan and Roger Lamanna, and her five grandchildren, Elena Lamanna (Eli Fernandes), George Sullivan (Monica Miele), Tom Lamanna (Bridget Tanner), Lloyd Sullivan, and Eric Lamanna.
A service is planned for the spring at Carolina Meadows. Memorial contributions may be made to the Chatham County Literacy Council.