Anita passed away peacefully in her sleep this morning at 8:05 am at Village Shalom. It was her wish to be buried as soon as possible so services are as follows:
Graveside Service 2 pm, Friday December 10, 2021
B’nai Israel Cemetery
1301 E. 2100 Road
Eudora, KS 66025
Jack Winerock and Susan Elkins will lead the service.
Masks and social distancing are encouraged. The service is planned to be broadcast on Facebook Live. Go to the Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home Facebook page.
Anita Herzfeld, long-time resident of Lawrence and Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Latin American Studies at the University of Kansas, died peacefully in her sleep at Village Shalom, Overland Park, Kansas, on December 9, 2021.
Anita was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in January 1932, daughter of Walter Herzfeld and Emmy Fischbein de Herzfeld. They immigrated to Argentina from Hamburg and Dortmund, Germany, a decade after World War I. Her childhood was spent in Santa Rosa, Pampa, Argentina. She graduated from the local Escuela Normal as a grade-school teacher and traveled to Buenos Aires to major in chemistry, math, and physics. There she earned a bachelor’s degree in sciences. She traveled to the United Kingdom to study English at the Technical College in Cardiff, Wales. She passed the Cambridge University English Certificate examination, and on return to Buenos Aires, taught English privately and in secondary schools.
In 1961, Anita obtained a Fulbright grant to study in the U.S. She came to the University of Kansas to study American literature. Her Argentine classmate, Leonor D.C. Mills, convinced her to study Linguistics to enhance her English and expand her career choices. Anita loved this “newly discovered” field. She earned a Master’s Degree in English with a strong emphasis in Linguistics.
Meanwhile, an article in the Daily Kansan mentioned that the Chancellor of an Argentine University was a patient at the KU Medical Center Hospital. Anita decided to visit him, and while there, she met Professor George Waggoner, KU Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He offered her a chance to work for him, first as a translator for the Seminar on Higher Education of the Americas and later as Associate Director of those seminars. These meetings were sponsored by the Department of State as part of President Kennedy’s initiative, “Alliance for Progress” to counteract effects of the 1959 Cuban Revolution. She later worked at the College Office as Special Assistant to the Dean for Latin American Affairs.
After receiving her Master’s Degree, Anita returned to Buenos Aires, where she became Director of Modern Languages at the University of Buenos Aires. These were turbulent times in Argentine politics– military police intervened daily in campus affairs, even using tear gas. At the suggestion of Dean Waggoner, she left that dangerous environment and directed groups of KU Junior Year Abroad students at the University of Costa Rica from 1968-1970. The years when Anita taught Linguistics at the University of Costa Rica (as part of the exchange agreement) were happy ones for Anita and her parents. The students became members of their “extended family,” and the Herzfelds were graciously welcomed by Costa Rican professors and students.
Dean Waggoner advised Anita to return to KU to pursue a Ph.D. in the newly created Department of Linguistics. Her parents returned to Argentina. While studying, she worked both as advisor in the then-called “Foreign Study Office,” directed by Dr. J. Anthony Burzle, and as a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Linguistics. In 1977, she succeeded Dr. Burzle as Director of the Office of Study Abroad and later (1981-85) became Associate Director of International Programs. Her parents joined Anita and lived with her until their deaths, her father in June 1980 and her mother in November 1983.
Because of parental illness and death, Anita obtained a leave of absence from KU. In 1985, she took a position at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. as Executive Director of Central American Peace Scholarships. She trained Central American students for middle-level careers at U.S. technical colleges. This program was both a response to Henry Kissinger’s recommendations to help those countries achieve democracy by training needy youth (including minorities) for future jobs and to the work of Georgetown University Professor, Father Harold Bradley, S.J. Hundreds of youngsters were first trained in English, while they learned about life in the U.S. Later, they received practical training and attended regular courses at 10 community or technical colleges nationwide. For five years, Anita personally interviewed thousands of students from all Central American countries–except Nicaragua—and especially those who lived in the interior, to select the best candidates. When the U.S. grant came to an end, Anita moved back to KU.
There she had an Intra-University Visiting Professorship Grant that allowed her to attend classes in Anthropology and Latin American Studies. She then transferred to the Center of Latin American Studies, where she worked for 20 years under Prof. Elizabeth Kuznesof as an advisor to majors and minors and as Director of Undergraduates. She also taught Latin American sociolinguistics.
Anita received many teaching and advising excellence awards during her tenure at KU. She did research in many Latin American countries–especially in Limón, Costa Rica. She was awarded more than 10 teaching and research international grants, including Fulbrights. Her attendance at sociolinguistics and creolistics meetings worldwide gained her international recognition, and she cultivated friends and colleagues worldwide–from China to Europe, from Canada to South America.
In the academic world, Anita was well-known for having written the grammar of Limonese Creole, the language spoken by a Black minority in Costa Rica. As Director of Study Abroad, she had established more than 40 student KU exchange programs. Her life was devoted to her parents, her close friends, and her students. Teaching and music were her passions. Anita retired in 2012 but continued teaching a sociolinguistics class in the Honors Program. She was preceded in death by her parents, and she had lost most of her relatives in the Holocaust. She is survived by a cousin, Marian Lane of Cardiff, Wales, UK, and their children, Nathaniel and partner Kerry, and Joanna and husband Gili, and their three children, in Cardiff and Jerusalem, respectively. She will be laid to rest in B’nai Israel Cemetery, in Eudora, Kansas.
In 2018, Anita moved to Village Shalom in Overland Park, Kansas. The family suggests memorials in her name to the KU Endowment Association for the “Anita Herzfeld Scholarship Grant” for KU undergraduate students who wish to study in Latin America, or to the Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation, 917 Highland Drive, Lawrence Kansas 66044.
Messages & Condolences
Apenas hoy supe de tu partida mientras buscaba una foto tuya en la red para el libro que te ha dedicado Laura Hobson Herlihy en la edición bilingüe de las recetas de las Islas de la Bahía que publicará la Universidad Pedagógica Nacional Francisco Morazán este año. Te he tenido presente estos días mientras reviso la diagramación del manuscrito y pensé en tu estadía en las Islas de la Bahía, documentando el inglés isleño y te hacía eterna… como si lo eres ¡porque vives en la memoria de todos y todas las que te recordamos!
I am so sorry to learn that Anita Herzfeld has passed. I remember her very well and very fondly from my years at the University of Kansas. She was kind, friendly, gracious, encouraging, and supportive. She truly wanted students to thrive. I remember especially well when she chaired the interview committee for Fulbright applicants. She was so warm and welcoming that I didn’t feel I was being “grilled” but rather enjoying a conversation with her and the other panel members. In my own teaching, when conducting oral exams, I apply what I learned from Dr. Herzfeld to bring out the best in students during a stressful situation. The University of Kansas and its students were truly fortunate to have Dr. Herzfeld teaching their. May her memory be a blessing.
Tia querida, como decirte que fuiste vos y tus papis ( mis abuelos) con palabras. Siempre estuviste cerca en la distancia. Fuiste una amiga, una hermana para mi madre. Tu ser nos llenó de amor, alegria y sabiduria. Amaste a mis hijos como a nosotros. Fuiste, sos y seras un ser de luz. Te amo tia.
I’m so sorry to hear about the immeasurable loss of one of my absolute favorite professors and all around human beings, Anita Herzfeld.
Anita’s love of learning and passion for the world was infectious and after meeting her for the first time I knew Latin American Studies was the major for me. She always talked about the students she considered “illuminated faces” ( I was lucky enough to be one) but hers was certainly the most illuminated in any classroom. After graduation, I was able to see her again on a few occasions and am happy she was able to introduce my now wife to her and spend some time catching up.
Thank you Anita, for everything. I will always remember our time together. Buen viaje.
Anita was such an inspiration. She was my undergraduate advisor for Latin American Studies from 2008-2012. She cared so deeply for her students, and I’m lucky to have formed a lasting bond with her. She inspired me to travel, pursue a career in international education and learn languages. She will always be remembered and have a special place in my heart.
You were a vital part of our “international” community in Lawrence and we had great pleasure in hosting you in France. Buon viaje.
Anita, we will miss your friendship, scholarship, wit, and charisma. Never a dull moment in your company!
Remembering fondly all the good times we shared as friends and neighbors on Arkansas Street. It was a true pleasure to have known you.
As I read the many messages Anita’s death has prompted, I’m struck by the sheer number of us whose lives were profoundly changed by knowing her. For the last fifty-one years, Anita has been a fixture in my life–from my time, in 1970, as a student at the Universidad de Costa Rica down to the present. She’s gone, but not really, and for me the same holds true for her beloved Papi and Mami. Please read the messages (below) of Tim Feagan and Debbie Brient, who were part of El Grupo de Kansas in 1970. They speak for me, and they speak eloquently, as you all have. Thank you for sharing.
May you now rest in true peace, dearest Anita. Thank you for making it possible for me to visit the wonderful country of Pura Vida!
It would be impossible to overstate the impact Anita had on each member of El Grupo de Kansas during our year at UCR, 1970. She tirelessly organized field trips, dinner parties and meetings with prominent writers (including Jorge Luis Borges in Buenos Aires), politicians (including the President of Costa Rica), all the while being available as a mentor and counselor one on one. She generously shared her beloved Mami y Papi with us and their gentle spirit made us the better for having known them. Her lasting influence surely extends to many I don’t know personally, but definitely lives on in the lives of that fortunate group from 1970: Debbie Brient, Vallie Portuguez Hogan, Justin Hunt, Patty Doughty List (sadly, recently deceased), Kathy Gilbert, Cindy Berg, Susan Armstrong. For all of us, Anita continued to be an example of hard work, erudition, excellence and grace.
It is with great sadness and tears that I write this. Anita made possible the happiest year in my life: 1970 in San Jose, Costa Rica. And she was a lifelong friend.
I last saw Anita this past October while visiting Vallie Portuguez Hogan in Kansas City, who also participated in the 1970 study abroad program. (Vallie visited Anita regularly while she was at Villa Shalom and always took her Andres’ chocolates – her favorite.) I, on the other hand, have not lived in Kansas City since 1978, so I only saw Anita twice at Villa Shalom.
As Vallie and I held Anita’s hands, I made her laugh as I recounted all the nightmares I gave her in Costa Rica. (I never turned down an adventure that year and not all of them were safe.) I also reminded Anita of the time in 1977 when I convinced her to leave her work in Lawrence and spend the weekend with my parents on their sailboat at the Lake of the Ozarks. It took some serious pressuring. “Oh Debbie, I just can’t. I have too much writing to do. I just can’t.” But I succeeded. We spent a delightful, relaxing weekend on the boat except for the threat of a tornado that sent us running onto shore for safety. Again, I made Anita laugh at the memory of the weekend that turned out so well despite the weather.
After the stories and laughter with Vallie, Anita paused, studied me carefully, and then commented, “No me pareces muy familiar.” It didn’t matter. I made her smile and that was enough.
I loved Anita. May she rest in peace next to her beloved parents.
Anita, what an amazing and inspirational life! You had and will continue to have a profound impact on the lives of so many people at KU and Costa Rica. The friendship of the University of Kansas and Universidad de Costa Rica is stronger because of you. May you rest in peace.
Buenos días María Eugenia, espero que este bien. Muchas gracias por la información y lamento esta triste noticia. Anita mi colega y amiga me recibió en su casa de Lawrence, Kansas, cuando fui a realizar estudios de especialización en economía. Una mujer agradable, comprometida con los estudiantes, colaboradora y servicial, amaba la academia y mantuvo una permanente amistad y de cariño por nuestra UCR. Me contó que había sido la primer investigadora, de un estudio que realizó, sobre un lenguaje del ingles, tipo dialecto, que tenían algunas poblaciones de Limón. A los estudiantes de la UCR los alojaba en su casa, los orientaba y les ofrecía todo su cariño. Añoraba su Argentina, que poco visitaba por sus compromisos en KU. Elevo una plegaria al cielo por Anita, cuyo recuerdo lo llevaré siempre conmigo, de una mujer excepcional, que dejó huella en nuestra UCR y será una referente de una mujer encantadora, académica, e investigadora, para todos los que fuimos recibidos con las amanos abiertas, en su casa de KU. Que descanse en paz Anita y que Dios la reciba con los brazos abiertos, como lo que fue siempre ella!!!. Carlos Palma Rodríguez, Miembro del Consejo Universitario, UCR
Anita amiga, pasamos muchos años compartiendo conocimientos, lindos momentos y buenos vinos. Esos años en Kansas no serían para mi memorables sin tu presencia. Los ticos y las ticas que nos tocó compartir con vos la vida académica y familiar están grabadas en montones de fotografías que ayer me puse a ordenar. Los viajes a Europa, Centroamérica y Paraguay, inolvidables. Siempre en vida te tuve presente y más ahora.
Beyond the wonderful years working together and learning from you in the Center of Latin American Studies, my kids, Laura and I also cherish the sweet Days of Christmas Chocolates you shared with us each year… You’ve done so much for so many of us!
Anita was a wonderful colleague and mentor to faculty and students in the Linguistics Department. We will miss her scholarship and her spirit deeply. Rest in peace. — Chair, Linguistics
It is very sad for me to write these lines. I could write so much. You were a great influence in my life.
Thank you for creating the exchange program that opened so many doors for me. You have been and will be my link to KU and Lawrence. I just wish you had been my teacher (we always talked about this).
Thank you for your teaching advice. I will always cherish our conversations and all the music shows, plays and movies we saw in Buenos Aires.
Rest in peace with papi y mami!
Un beso grande grande!
Gracias Anita que me acogiste en tu hogar en Kansas por todo el tiempo que estuve allí. Lamento que te dí dolores de cabeza porque no era una joven ejemplar, pero actuaste como una madre, te preocupaste por mí y eso te lo agradeceré eternamente. Fuiste y sigues siendo muy importane en nuestras vidas. Sé que estás bien en tu nueva vida en otros plano, junto a tus padres. Un abrazote desde este plano terrenal.
Muy entristecida por el paso hacia la luz de Anita. Fue un apoyo incondicional para mi cuando recién llegue a KU con mis tres hijos a hacer mi doctorado. Durante el curso de los estudios y mi trabajo docente en KU fue una compañera y complice espectacular. Una mujer generosa. Luz a su tránsito, mi profundo agradecimiento y cariño
Querida Anita: siempre recordaré la estancia en tu casa recién graduada de mi doctorado. Fuiste muy amable. Admiré siempre tu producción y el interés por las relaciones entre KU y la UCR. Te recordaremos siempre como la buena persona que siempre fuiste.
Anita, fuiste uno de los primeros rostros que recuerdo en mi experiencia en KU, me ayudaste a entender el sistema, y a planear mi proceso académico mientras intercambiamos risas en tu oficina.
Fuiste una auténtica mentora y amiga. Se te llevará siempre en el pensamiento y el corazón.
Buen viaje, profe
You’ ve been a great influence in my life from my teenage years in College
Altho’ you were gone long before your actual departure memories of things we shared -operas, movies,plays, trips – will linger on. May you rest in peace with your beloved “papi & mami”. Adiós, Anita
Anita querida, muy consternado por la noticia de tu partida, serás muy extrañada por todos aquellos que pasamos por tus clases y compartirnos momentos de amistad contigo. Ya sos una leyenda en KU.
RIP 🪦 Anita, un fuerte abrazo hasta el cielo.
Mi profesora, consejera y amiga. Ya me olvidé de las cosas que aprendí en tus clases pero nunca olvidaré la bondad, los detalles y el cariño. Jamás lograron llenar el vacío que dejaste en la Universidad, tan grande como el impacto que tuviste en la vidas de tantos como yo. Que tristeza y que pesar. Como diría Rubén Darío, “Anita Herzfeld ha muerto. El mundo pesa menos.”
Fuiste pieza esencial de mi vida universitaria. Siempre con las puertas abiertas, el consejo listo y el abrazo apretado. Hoy he recordado tantos momentos, conversaciones y risas que de muchas formas influenciaste mi vida.
Te extraño y te quiero mucho!
Anita, fuimos hermanas afectivas. Te agradezco el bien que hiciste a mi familia, en especial por Álvaro, Alvarito y Leticia, y lo mucho que hiciste por las buenas relaciones entre Costa Rica y Kansas. Ayudaste muchísima gente. Estarás ahora feliz con tu padre y madre. Disfruta de la bienaventuranza eterna.
Dear Anita, You had a profound impact on me at KU as my professor, and I have many fond memories of lovely visits with you during my time there. You were a true class act, and very loved by your students. We will hold you in our hearts always. May you rest in peace.
Me entero con mucho pesar de tu partida. Dejarás un espacio vacío muy grande. Solo puedo quedar agradecido a la vida por haberte puesto en mi camino. Esto no es un adiós si no un hasta pronto!
Buen viaje Anita querida!
Te quiero mucho
Querida Anita: ya gozas con la compañía de tus queridos papas. Me duele mucho tu partida pero me quedan para siempre los lindos momentos y recuerdos que compartimos. Muchas gracias por tus consejos y apoyo y un gran abrazo a la eternidad.
Querida Anita. Te vamos a extrañar. Gracias por tus enseñanzas, consejos y afable plática. I cherish the moments you spent with us in USA and in Costa Rica.
Anita will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her. She was definitely a very special person who cared for many people she didn’t even know. I will be forever grateful for all the help she gave me and to many others at KU. May God bless her soul.
Te voy a echar mucho de menos. Du warst eine Freundin, Mentorin und liebevoll nicht nur zu mir aber auch zu allen anderen. Ohne Dich wäre mein Übergang zu den USA nicht so einfach gewesen. Du wirst immer in meinem Herzen bleiben.
Te recuerdo con mucho Aloha y sonrisas siempre.
Llenaste el papel de tia adulaora y a veces hasta “hija” necesitada de consejo durante mis a~nos universitarios. A partir de ahi, fuimos las mejores amigas hasta que empezaste a ser como una segunda madre despues de que la mia nos dejo. No puedo describir como duele perderte (aunque duele menos que la manera en que tu cruel enfermedad te robo tu memoria). Tampoco puedo contar las maneras en que yo, igual que tantos estudiantes Latinos, te debemos en buena suma el sesgo que tomaron nuestras vidas gracias a vos.
Te quiero y extra~no mucho.
Descansa por siempre en compa~nia de tus adorados “papi y mami.”
dear Anita. You were an amazing professor, gracious lady, and loved by so many! It was my sincere pleasure to work for you!
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