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Josephine Pesman Chanaud ’49

October 2019 in Prescott, Arizona.

While in high school in Denver, Colorado, Jo met with two “Reed Travelers,” current students who answered her questions about the college. They clinched the deal when they reported there were no sororities, no interschool athletics, no verboten subjects, and an emphasis on small classes with a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio. She started at Reed when she was 16 years old and found it quite unlike her high school campus. Classical music played in the background as she studied in her room at Winch. If the sun shone for days in a row, hundreds of students would haul their typewriters out on the lawn to write their papers. Instead of trying to blend in, people stood out and were characters:  Mark Schindler ’45 was a yogi who studied upside down, and Alexander MacDonald ’46 dressed up in 18th-century clothing.

Because she took two semesters off, Jo didn’t graduate until 1949. She majored in French and wrote her thesis on French playwright Henri-René Lenormand, advised by Prof. Cecilia Tenney [French 1921–63]. That summer, she married Thomas Sanford ’51, and the couple moved to Berkeley, where Tom completed a PhD. They moved to British Columbia while he finished his dissertation on Canadian politics, and then Tom taught political science at Wesleyan University in Connecticut while Jo was a full-time mother to Megan and Reid. The couple divorced in 1962.

Jo began working at the library at the University of Colorado, where she met Bob Chanaud, who taught in the engineering department. After they married, she earned a master’s degree in library science at the University of Denver and supported Bob while he started a business. She did information retrieval work with UC Berkeley, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the Colorado Technical Reference Center, and Ball Brothers, and was head of the library reference department at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

She and Bob traveled extensively in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, and sailed the Caribbean. Jo served as the librarian for a three-month Semester at Sea around the world. The couple retired to Arizona in 2002.

When asked how Reed had affected her life, she replied, “It taught me to push myself to the limit intellectually. Whatever I don’t know (and there’s much!) I try to find out. That’s what librarianship is all about.”

Jo is survived by her husband, Bob, and her children, Megan O’Toole and Reid Sanford.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2020

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