14 thoughts on “Isabelle Clark-Decès

  1. Dr. Nikos Michailidis

    Isabelle has been a passionate teacher and a methodical thinker who provided very succinct advice for research and writing. I will always remember our discussions during my early years at the anthropology program. Princeton has lost an important scholar and an amazing human. She will be fondly remembered!

  2. Sarah Qari '16

    Professor Clark-Deces was a teacher and mentor I’ll never forget: she was the first professor I encountered in college who believed in me. She made me feel like I belonged at Princeton, when I had been sure that I didn’t. And I’ll never forget how she supported me through some of the darkest moments of my life.

    In her anthropological fieldwork and in life, Professor Clark-Deces valued the idea of understanding those who are different from us on their own terms, rather than imposing our own norms. This continues to be an inspiration to me in everything I do. If it weren’t for her I would not be an anthropologist or a journalist.

    I miss her, and I wish I had told her how much she really meant to me.

  3. Katherine Newman

    I had the pleasure of joining Isabelle in Madurai during one of her summers in the field. We spent time together in the village where she did her research on cross-cousin marriage and she introduced me to the charity that I have continued to support ever since, Madurai SEED. She was devoted to this organization and to children and families from the most disadvantaged caste backgrounds. My husband and I enjoyed many lovely evenings at her home in Princeton. During my years on the Princeton faculty, Isabelle was one of my closer friends. It is a shock to lose her both as a friend and as an inspiration to everyone who loves India. My condolences to her department, her students, and her family. She will be missed.

  4. Dave Lapkin

    So sad. Quoting from my daughter Hannah’s just completed thesis: “I would like to thank my advisor, Professor Isabel Clark-Deces, for your continued guidance and support throughout the year. My stubborn indecisiveness was no match for your patience, honesty, and accommodation. Most importantly, thank you for always maintaining such a lively and energetic demeanor. Not only did your enthusiasm fuel my writing process but it helped remind that it could be fun .”

    I too met her at graduation and was warmed and inspired in her presence.

  5. ebet

    I write as a friend and erstwhile neighbor; Isabelle and Jim were both beloved and inspiring, in a down-home way. She was a colleague of my ex-husband at PU, and a treasured component of our social circle, both town & gownwise. Both of them would occasionally drop by our house with flowers, gossip, books or CD’s – vivaciously kind, no-nonsense and gemutlich. Funny, I can see as I write, exactly the pattern of their Quimper dinnerware, the decorative chickens on their shelves. I’m shocked and anguished to think of her death, what must have transpired, and the devastation Fred must be suffering. My sympathies to you all – at least we can take some consolation that the fatal injury was quick, and she was in her element.

  6. Tolu Lanrewaju

    Professor Clark-Decès was my thesis advisor in 2009. I remember how gentle yet supportive she was. Until this day, I think about her regularly. I have even recently thought that I would only be so blessed to have a scholar with half her might as my dissertation chair and that if that person matched her, I would be the luckiest girl two times over. I’m very sad to hear the news. This world has lost a truly energetic and angelic soul. Thank you for giving me hope, confidence, and comfort. May you rest in peace.

  7. M. Thavamani

    I met Meenakshi in 1992. This is her Tamil name in our village. No one will know if you say lssable in her first research working place. I am Thavamani who worked from 1992 to 1999 with her as field assistant and lerned a lot from her. This made me to work for many scholars till now for US scholars. It was a shocking news to me. She is such a hard working and determined person. I love her as my sister and I can write a book about her because I spent so much time either.

  8. Hanne M. de Bruin

    We never met but I have been following and reading Isabelle’s work with great interest. Wishing her family, friends and colleagues all strength to bear this loss.

    Hanne M. de Bruin-Rajagopal
    Kattaikkuttu Sangam & Gurukulam

  9. Benedicte

    I knew Isabelle as a swimmer, a regular member of a merry band of ladies who meet at the university pool and discuss life in the locker room. Isabelle was always ready to share her laughter and her stories with us. She was a breath of fresh air, an adventurous spirit, an inspiration. I will miss our weekly chats tremendously. My deepest condolences to her family and friends.

  10. Ravi Yande

    I had the privilege and honor of reading Isabelle’s work and heard so much about what she did when I was in India. While I was in Mumbai on assignment a few years ago, I met someone who knew her work and shared with me such great stories about what Isabelle did with her research and about her passion to help people in India. It is indeed a tremendous loss to Princeton University and to the thousands who followed her work and dedication. India will always remember her devotion. And just as it is quoted in the Bhagavad Gita , “Karam Karo, Phal Ki Chinta Mat Karo” meaning do your work but never expect the fruits of your labor. Isabelle never expected anything in return from all the wonderful work she did before she left this world. RIP Isabelle Clark-Deces. You and your amazing work will never be forgotten.

  11. Peter Cameron

    Peter Cameron
    August 12, 2017
    I knew Isabelle and her daughter many years ago when she lived in Sonoma County during that period before she moved to Berkeley to study anthropology. Penelope was about the same age as my son and for a period we shared many pleasurable days together. I’ve not been in touch with her since then but I and other friends still remember what a unique and beautiful woman she was. My most heartfelt condolences to her daughter. I have a great photo of Penelope holding an umbrella taken when they had first moved into student housing, I believe it was her birthday.

  12. Kirk

    Isabelle and I were friends in the early ’80’s. She was a Parisian. She was a twenty seven year old struggling, independent, single mom of an adorable two year old Penelope. Those days Isabelle worked as a waitress in restaurants on the coast of Northern California. She was rapidly digging her way out of a previous bad relationship. She was the epitome of the working mom. One college class quickly led to another and soon she was on her way to Cal. Isabelle was the only person I have ever known from Paris.
    I will miss Isabelle.

  13. Beena Sarwar

    I am so sorry to hear about this tragedy, that I somehow missed hearing about earlier – just learnt from a mutual friend. While teaching at Princeton last fall, I saw quite a bit of Isabelle. A lively and caring person, helpful, encouraging, fun and interesting to talk to. Although sad after her husband died she made a great effort to say focused and cheerful. She was encouraging me to come back to Princeton to teach another course but I got busy and didn’t follow up.

    As someone said, she was in her element doing what she loved, and the fatal injury was mercifully quick. But still, what a great loss and untimely departure. My condolences to all her friends, colleagues and family.

  14. Jean kirsch

    Jean Kirsch, The Sea Ranch, California. July 1, 2021 Walking along the Bluffs above the Pacific Ocean as it broke against the rocks of Northern California’s western edge, I remembered Isabelle. She certainly was all that her friends and colleagues say she was, and more. Isabelle and Jim Clark were “academics”; my late husband Tom and I were physicians and Jungian analysts. We shared common loves of the California north coast, good wines, life stories, and well traveled friends. I miss all three of them and walk alone now above the swollen sea, stirred by its grey rhythm to wistful reverie. Gone now, all their vitality. Late afternoon sun breaks through the low lying fog, falling soft against my hunched back. They lived by the bluffs in a whale-shaped house and shared red wines with many. All gone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *