Passing of Tippy Schwabe
Gwendolyn “Tippy” Schwabe
On March 29, 2018, Gwendolyn T. Schwabe, known to all as Tippy, passed away peacefully at the age of 91 in Haverford, Pennsylvania, where she had been living in retirement. The TESOL profession in California has much to thank her for; in her roles as a Senior Lecturer in English/Linguistics at UC Davis and as a Past President of CATESOL, she was a source of support and inspiration to hundreds of international students, ESL teachers in training, and ESL professionals ranging from veterans down to new beginners.
A true role model, Tippy inspired others to become actively involved in CATESOL.“I seriously doubt that many people turned her down. She got us to say, ‘Yes, I can do that’ more than we ever even realized,” remembered Karen Dennis, one of the many past presidents of CATESOL who fondly remember Tippy’s influence in making them strong leaders, her continuous moral support of CATESOL, and her far-reaching ideas for strengthening the organization. “Tippy was a model for me in her leadership of CATESOL. I looked forward to seeing her at all the conferences and at TESOL too!” noted Sharon Seymour, another past president of CATESOL.
Kathleen Flynn, a recent past president of CATESOL, underscored how proactive Tippy was in attending CATESOL presentations and encouraging the presenters to continue with their research and make it available to others via CATESOL. As an example, at a presentation regarding a joint project between the Credit and Non-Credit ESL Divisions at Glendale Community College, she offered cogent advice and strategies that proved useful for a number of years.
June McKay, CATESOL President 1985-1986 and best of friends with Tippy for over 40 years, said that she and Tippy “shared a room at an uncountable number of CATESOL conferences and were equally dedicated to the betterment of our professional organization. Because we each worked with ESL students on UC campuses—she at Davis and I at Berkeley—we also served together on various state-wide committees.“
In her long career as a teacher trainer, TIppy has left a legion of ESL professionals and CATESOL supporters. Janet Lane, one of those she mentored, said, “Tippy was the best mentor a person could ever ask for. I well remember the day when I was a senior at UC Davis I “sat in her office and told her I could not take her pedagogy course because everyone else in the class had taught before and I felt extremely behind all the others. She encouraged me to continue and said, ‘You’ll probably be one of the best.’" Ellen Lange, who got her start in those same pedagogy classes and later became 2013 - 2014 CATESOL President, said she is forever grateful for Tippy’s ability to give careful, honest advice. “When I gave her the first write-up of a research project she had assigned me, Tippy promptly wrote on it with her pencil: ‘Did you outline this?’ That remark turned into a life-long lesson.”
After her retirement, Tippy created the Tippy Schwabe Grant at UC Davis through the CATESOL Education Foundation as a means to encourage graduate students to become actively involved in CATESOL through attending conferences, volunteering, and giving presentations. Jan Eyring, a professor at CSU—Fullerton, said that Tippy’s “donations to the Foundation for scholarships for students was the inspiration for a similar program at Cal State Fullerton.”
Indeed, as Gretchen Bitterlin, another Past President, so carefully observed, “Tippy was a CATESOL icon.”