Robert Mansfield “Bob” French ~ Class of 1966

Robert “Bob” French ~ Class of 1966

Departed ~ 11/1/2022

Lovingly submitted by Bob’s sister Peggy French ISB 1971

Bob loved life and would do anything he could to please, or help others. He was living in the state (Vermont) that he loved and wanted to buy a farm and have lots of dogs, a fabulous garden, raise Alpacas, and hike the mountain trails.

He loved to write and wrote some really fabulous stories about his his time in Thailand, especially his senior class trip riding a raft with his classmates down the river Kwai! If I can find his story I will repost it! He was an avid reader who would take out 20 books at a time at the library . He had a really good memory… he knew directors, actors and what they directed or acted in. He loved Song trivia and always tried to get me to guess something by saying “you will, know this”. Of course I didn’t and usually had to Google it. He loved The NY Times crossword puzzles, classical music, FOOD, and cooking. He loved good dancers… all kinds. He would send me YouTube videos of Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers of old and the new ones like the Mayas who won Americas Got Talent this year.

R.I.P. Robert Mansfield French 1948 – 2022. Survived by his sister Peggy, daughter Alex and Alex’s husband Heath and two ex-wives, Linda (ISB Class of 71) and Cindy!

A Steamy Night in Bangkok

by Bob French

One night in the summer of 1968, I interviewed a Thai whore. Back then, if you were to say the three-syllable phrase, “so-penny,” to the driver of the ubiquitous three wheel open-air samlor (taxi,) on a hot and humid Bangkok night, you would find yourself at a Thai brothel in 15 minutes. For whatever reason, I did this one night while on home leave after my sophomore year at Syracuse. This was something privileged, 19-year-old white college boys did; maybe part of “the Ugly American,” syndrome. But this time was different—I went back to the same place the next night and requested the same young lady and suggested that maybe we could go somewhere else for more privacy and to talk. Somehow, through broken Thai and English a deal was reached with the proprietor, and we taxied out into the night. I could tell from her body language that the young Thai lady must have vouched for me. Instead of going to a hotel as I had initially planned, it occurred to me that my father was stationed in Nam and Mom was upcountry, so I directed the driver to our house on Soy Sipsam.(13) Here we could use my room until my brother and sister, who were sleeping upstairs, would awaken.

Even looking back 53 years later, I am not sure why I did this, except that I wanted to get to know her as a person,and not just as a prostitute: what made her tick, why a sex worker, who she was apart from the brothel. So I got us a couple of drinks, we got cozy in my bed, and in spite of barely speaking the other’s language, we joked, giggled and talked for about 5 hours, almost like hanging out with one’s friends, except of course the part about being naked. One language that we did share in common was the universal ranking of #1 through #10. So-penny we agreed was #1, good Singha (Thai,) beer was #2, and so on.

“G.I. #10,” she said emphatically.

“Why, I asked?”

“They mean and no pay.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, thinking that the constant pool of servicemen on R’n’R from Viet Nam probably amounted to 90% of her income. Tough life. Probably where the standard retort of “no sweat, G.I.” came from. She told me that one reason she did what she did was that she had no education and was trying to help her family, especially a younger sister, who wanted to go to college.

“You #1,” she said.

“Oh, how come?”

“You nice.”

“Thank you.”

She told me her name, that she was 25 and lived with her parents and two siblings and that her father worked as a janitor at university. Her grandmother who was 70, lived with them and spent most of her waking hours chewing betel nut, a mild narcotic, that leaves your teeth and mouth dark red, and is suspected of being very carcinogenic. Hundreds, if not thousands of food vendors line the streets and sidewalks all over the city, squatting down for hours with angry red mouths and yet, happy as clams.

“You go to college,” she asked?


“What you study?”

“Girls and beer,” I quipped, and we both laughed heartily.

“You funny,” she said.

And I said, “you’re sweet, to say so.”

She told me her brother was older and was off in Cambodia fighting the Khmer Rouge. I asked her why and she said the pay was good and some Thais were concerned, that if the Khmers, funded by the Viet Cong and the Communist Party of China, were victorious in Cambodia, they might try to annex Thailand. The Thais are fiercely independent, having been the only country in Southeast Asia to never be colonized, and not for lack of trying.

“Are you scared for your brother,” I asked?

“Yes, shot in leg, home 2 months.”

“What did he say about it.”

“Mai pen rai, and went right back to war.”

I had to laugh as “Mai pen rai,” is the universal Thai expression for “no biggie, or “no worries.” It used to drive my mother nuts when the little Thai butterflies, as she called them, would be waving their hands out their car windows, drying their fingernail polish, then giving you a big smile as they cut you off, and exclaim in beautiful singsong, “Mai pen rai, Mai pen rai, madam!”

This banter continued till about 5 AM, and I asked her if she wanted to sleep for a couple of hours and then I would get her a samlor home. So we did, just as if we were a normal couple.

At 7:30, I instructed our gardener to run down to the Main Street, to fetch her a cab, I gave her a generous tip and sent her on her way. When I came back in, the maid was looking at me with a knowing smile. I pointed upstairs, and said, “Madam,” and shook my head. She nodded and that was the end of it.

I had a rinky-dink little portable reel to reel recorder, on which I had taped some of our evening. Great fun to listen to afterwards. I even played it for a couple of my college buddies when we were in Frankfurt, on our way back stateside. They thought it was outlandish and hilarious—unfortunately that player is long gone.

I don’t remember if we had sex that night, and I never went back to another Thai brothel, but I will always remember that night with my new-found friend, a Thai whore. I still don’t know why I did it. Maybe there is a latent sociologist lurking inside me somewhere. I do know I wanted to get to know her beyond the confines of a brothel. Sometimes I wonder what she thought of this still wet-behind-the-ears college kid paying for a night of her service and taking her back to his own home and bedroom, and spending the night just socializing and treating her like a human being. I have also fantasized about going back to Bangkok and trying to find her, but that idea is probably a non-starter.

I have only shared this with one other living soul, and now you guys, so this book, Thai Whores and Loony Bins, will definitely be my coming out party.

Please send pictures (old and new), anecdotes, articles, stories, and tributes to isbeings at gmail dot com or visit us on Facebook at ISBeings

Judith “Jude” Kathleen Benson ~ Class of 1966

Judith “Jude” Benson ~ Class of 1966

Departed ~ 5/2/2018

Judith K. Benson 1948 ~ 2018

It is with heavy hearts we announce that our sister, Judith Kathleen Benson passed on to join our Lord on May 2, 2018, after a short illness.

Judy arrived into the world in Ft. Lewis, WA, in 1948. Born as an U.S. Army dependent, Judy lived all around the country, from Washington state, Leavenworth, KS, Long Branch, NJ, Florida and northern Virginia. In the early 1960s, upon her father’s retirement from the Army, the family moved to Djakarta, Indonesia. That tour was followed by several years in Bangkok, Thailand, where she graduated with honors from the International School Bangkok in 1966. She was inducted into the National Honor Society that same year. While in Bangkok, Judy hosted an English language easy-listening music program on a Thai FM radio station for two years.

Judy returned to the States to attend Sarah Lawrence College, graduating magna cum laude in 1970 with a degree in drama. After graduation, she spent the next few years involved with New York’s off-Broadway theater scene, acting in several productions presented at the La Mama Experimental Theatre Club. She consistently received good reviews.

In 1973, Judy relocated to Washington, D.C. where she continued to pursue her interest in the dramatic arts with the local theatre scene, performing in productions at Arena Stage. She also worked as a researcher at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Smithsonian Institution. Other research positions included work at an FM radio station in Silver Spring.

Judy struggled with mental illness since 1973, receiving a diagnosis of schizophrenia. In 1974, she entered into a pioneering experimental treatment program at the National Institute for Mental Health in Bethesda, MD. The experimental drugs she was treated with helped establish today’s modern mental health drug protocols. Judy’s original diagnosis eventually changed into what is presently referred to as bi-polar disorder.

Judy also struggled with the social isolation that is all too common for those with chronic mental illness. She constantly sought to overcome the stigma associated with the disease. It was a long fight.

Judy relocated to the Philadelphia area, in 2010, eventually ending up in Chester, PA. She was just recently diagnosed with lung cancer which had quickly spread to other organs.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph W. and Nancy (Friel) Benson, along with a brother, Joe, and sister, Samantha. She is survived by her sister, Joanne Carr (Paul), brother John (Marynell), nieces Christine and Lucy, step-nephew Jeff DeLong and nephew Sam. Mental health affects everyone. Please send a donation in Judy’s memory to the National Alliance on Mental Illness at A memorial service and reception will be scheduled at a future time and place.

Thank you, Joanne and John

Please send pictures (old and new), anecdotes, articles, stories and tributes to isbeings at gmail dot com

Ronald C. “Ron” Pennington ~ Class of 1966

Ronald C. “Ron” Pennington ~ Class of 1966

Departed ~ 2/20/06 ~ Cancer

Washington Post, February 23, 24, 25, 2006

Ronald Charles Pennington (age 58) of Washington , DC , died in Albuquerque , NM February 20, 2006, after a long battle with lymphoma.

Beloved son of RC “Preach” and Vivian Pennington, he was born in Charleston WV and, following his family’s career assignments, happily experienced growing up and schooling in Africa, Sri Lanka , India , southeast Asia, and the western United States .

He is survived by his mother, Vivian and step-father, Rob Hooper and family; by his brother Daniel and wife Angela, their children Daniel and Stephanie; by his sister Carolyn Anong and her husband Gary Williams; and by his partner, Richard Plante.

After receiving a fine arts degree from Eastern New Mexico University , he pursued a 25-year career in visual merchandising and interior design in the western U.S. , Mexico and Southeast Asia, receiving special recognition and awards for his work in Singapore . More recently, living in Washington , he produced both retail merchandising and interior design work in this region and in New England ; and he was a volunteer docent at the Library of Congress.

Funeral services, 10 a.m. Saturday, February 25, at Church of the Immaculate Conception, 619 Copper NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102. In lieu of flowers, Ron requested that donations be made to Catholic Relief Services, specifically for the feeding and relief of children in Ethiopia , Kenya , Sudan , Chad and Somalia .

Interment of cremains was in the family crypt at Sunset Memorial Park in Albuquerque .

I regret to advise you of Ron Pennington’s death at Albuquerque, NM, on
February 20, 2006, after a long and brave battle with lymphoma. For the last
6 years Ron had been living and working in the Washington DC area. In the
last few years he had re-established his link with ISB, and he followed your
communications with great interest.

I am a close friend in DC who is attempting to inform of his passing all
those who come to my attention who might have interest in knowing. I have
attached an obituary that appeared in the Washington Post and a photo from
November 2004, shortly before he became ill.

If you need to correspond for any reason, I can be reached at This e-mail site (Ron’s own) will probably be shut
down in the near future.

Thank you.

Richard L. Plante

Please send pictures (old and new), anecdotes, articles, stories and tributes to isbeings at

Noel Niehaus Plummer ~ Class of 1966

Noel Niehaus Plummer ~ Class of 1966

Departed ~ 3/2/09 ~ Breast Cancer and Parkinson’s Disease



Noel Niehaus Plummer class of 1966 died on March 2, 2009 after a long battle with breast cancer and Parkinson’s Disease. She will be remembered as small in stature and voice, but brave and strong in the face of her illness. From her loving sister Joan Niehaus Furst

Please send pictures (old and new), anecdotes, articles, stories and tributes to isbeings at



Karl William “Bill” Melchers ~ Class of 1966

Bill Melchers ~ Class of 1966

Departed Circa 1999 ~ Cancer



From: Donald Tate
Subject: Karl William Melchers
Date: Tuesday, November 6, 2007, 12:55 PM

Class of 1966. Bill died of cancer according to information I received
sometime around 1999-2000 in Bangkok. Somewhere I have some photos of him taken around 70-71 when we both happened to be in Bangkok briefly on overlapping trips. If I can find them I’ll send one.

Larry Yates wrote:

I attended Patana School with Bill in the early 60s. He was a little older than me, but we were friends. For some reason the strongest memory I have of him is walking on the beach in Pattaya (a very different almost secluded place in those days) while he told me the entire story of Orwell’s 1984, which he had just enthusiastically read. We also shared the hobby of playing with toy soldiers. I think his father was with USIA; my father was training English teachers on a USAID contract.


Bruce Hutchinson ~ Class of 1966

Bruce Hutchinson ~ Class of 1966

Departed ~ 3/14/1970

Bruce was killed Mar. 14, 1970. It was an auto accident on a rural road north of Charlottesville, VA. He was a senior at Virginia Tech and was on his way home to Northern Virginia for Spring Break


Mike Hutchinson

by Marcia Powell

Bruce Hutchinson, class of ’66. We met in the office waiting room our first day while our parents/aunt & uncle were getting us registered in late Sept. or early Oct. of ’64. We both were going to be Juniors and got there after school had already started. We shared several classes, lockers right next to each other, many friends and fun times. He was a dear, sweet boy with a wonderful sense of humor…he let me go all day long one day with my shift dress on backwards. I couldn’t figure out why he kept poking me in the shoulder blades every time we happen to meet at our lockers and say,”Hmm, dressed yourself today, did you?” I never realized the darts were in the back (because the Thai tailor matched the patterns so well you couldn’t see them) until Carolyn Taylor came up and whispered in my ear and told me. Bruce laughed until tears ran down his face. And even harder when I pulled my arms inside the sleeves and turned it around right there in the hall!! We kept in contact after graduation and as happens not as often as we started out. I hadn’t heard from him in months. then in about middle to late ’70-72 I got a letter from his older brother Mike letting me know that Bruce had been killed in a car accident a few months before. He had found my name & address and some letters while going through Bruce’s things. I think Mike graduated in ’65. Both of them were great guys. I’m sorry this is so long but I know there are others that knew Bruce and I wanted him to be recognized and remembered in the annals of ISB. As always, gone but never forgotten.

Please send pictures (old and new), anecdotes, articles, stories and tributes to isbeings at

Claudia Gentry ~ Class of 1966

Claudia Gentry ~ Class of 1966


Information supplied by: Glenda Gentry

Class of 66 – Claudia Gentry – Died July 9, 2003 of ovarian cancer after a hard fought battle that gave her 5 extra years.

I remember arriving in Bangkok as a nervous (and extremely shy) freshman (sounds so much better than 9th grader!). I met Glenda Gentry, who became my bestest friend, and thru her, Claudia. My older sister had not lived at home for years (college and married long before) so I was not prepared for a big sister, let alone Claudia. She was friendly (could get a rock to talk), very Southern, and a charming flirt with the boys. She teased me unmercifully at times. Especially about my “beauty mark” on the tip of my nose (which has since disappeared) and the fact that my big toe is shorter than my second toe (which is still true). She did not pull any punches either. I remember when I was asked to the Sr. prom as a lowly freshmen – it gave her a chance to tease the heck out of me (not to say embarrass me! the duty of every big sister, as I understand it. I have tried to carry the legacy with my younger sibs, but never came close.) I visited Glenda in Washington DC a few years later – Claudia hadn’t changed even though she was married with children. I remember when they picked me up at the airport. I had (of course) been sitting next to a guy on the plane and we talked after we disembarked. She marched up and said that she knew I would have met a cute boy (immediately starting the blushes and the urge for flight!) and a few other things funny only to onlookers and other big sisters. I knew I was still family.

I missed my funny big sister who gave me a glimpse of that big world of teenagers that I had just entered when she went back to the states after graduation. I wish her Godspeed and hope that she looks kindly on my toes at long last.

Mary Griest

Please send pictures (old and new), anecdotes, articles, stories and tributes to isbeings at

Sally Kerr Pfingsten ~ Class of 1966

Sally Kerr ~ Class of 1966

Departed ~ 4/20/2018

Emily Frick Writes: Sorry to inform everyone of another ISB alumni death. Sally Kerr (’65) Pfingsten passed away April 20th. Her husband, Charlie, died late in 2016. They will both be missed at this next reunion. I don’t have any more information at this time. Obituary Sally (Kerr) Pfingsten 70, of Lubbock died April 20, 2018. COMBEST FAMILY FUNERAL HOMES Funeral Home Combest Family Funeral Homes 2210 Broadway Lubbock, TX 79401 (806) 749-4483 Funeral Home Details Send Flowers Published in The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal from Apr. 29 to Apr. 30, 2018

Frank John Gigliotti ~ Class of 1966

Frank Gigliotti ~ Class of 1966

Departed 6/9/2013

Frank John Gigliotti, 64, of Kailua-Kona died June 9 at the Kona Community Hospital. Born in Springfield, Mass., he was an Army veteran, worked for the Social Security Administration until retirement and came to Hawaii May 2002 settling in Kailua Kona where he enjoyed scuba diving. Survived by wife, Carol Gigliotti of Kailua-Kona; and sister, Starnell (Howard) Franklin of North Carolina. Private services planned. Arrangements by A Hui Hou Crematory & Funeral Home of West Hawaii.

Received sad news that Frank Gigliotti (Class of ’66) died Monday night about 11:30 at a hospital in Kona, HI. His wife Carol said he was moved to a regular room from ICU preparatory to going to a hospice and seemed comfortable but then died in his sleep.

Judy Molthen Nelson

Frank John Gigliotti

June 9, 2013 Frank John Gigliotti, 64, of Kailua-Kona, a Social Security Administration retiree and an Army veteran, died in Kona Community Hospital. He was born in Springfield, Mass. He is survived by wife Carol and sister Starnell Franklin. Private services.