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Archaeology: $1,603,833 for the Cheryl L. Wase Memorial Scholarship

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From the E-News of the Society for American Archaeology:

Jeff Altschul, SAA Presiden has just informed that on December 31, 2013, the Society for American Archaeology received $1,603,833.46 from the estate of J. Francy Wase to establish the Cheryl L. Wase Memorial Scholarship for the Study of Archaeology. The scholarships will be awarded to women who are New Mexico residents pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in anthropology with an emphasis in archaeology.

The bequest represents the largest gift ever made to SAA. I want to thank the executors of her estate, Philip San Filippo and John Vitt. I also want to express my appreciation to SAA executive director, Tobi Brimsek, the SAA Board of Directors, and Barbara Dunn of Barnes and Thornburg, who ably assisted SAA in making this bequest a reality. Most of all, I want to thank two people I never met: Cheryl and Francy Wase.

In time, SAA will provide details as to who is eligible, how to apply, and what is covered. For now, however, it is time to celebrate a life too short, and a mother’s wish to honor her daughter. President Jeff Altschul had asked former SAA president, Lynne Sebastian, who was a close friend of Cheryl Wase, to have provided a sketch of her life.

Lynne Sebastian, SAA Past President, about Cheryl L. Wase

Cheryl L. Wase was born June 12, 1951, in New Jersey and passed away in Albuquerque at the end of December 2004. She received her B.A. in Anthropology and English from Rutgers University in 1973 and an M.A. in Anthropology from Columbia University in 1975; she began course work toward a Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico in the early 1980s, but left without completing her degree.

Although she was raised and educated in the Northeast, it was only when she came to New Mexico in the mid-1970s to work for Cynthia Irwin-Williams that Cheryl found the “home of her heart” as she put it. She lived and worked for the rest of her life in the high desert of northwestern New Mexico. She worked at various times for the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the State of New Mexico’s Historic Preservation Division, and a variety of public and private sector cultural resource management organizations.

Cheryl had great intellectual curiosity and read voraciously. She was a fiercely loyal friend and could be a nearly implacable foe. She was a marvelous cook, a giver of epic dinner parties, and a devotee of good wine and Southwestern jewelry.

This generous memorial bequest from her mother to SAA brings together three major themes that defined Cheryl’s life: her dedication to archaeology, her love of New Mexico, and her constant willingness to help and support other women. She would be filled with joy to know that generations of young New Mexico women will be assisted in building careers in archaeology by this scholarship in her name. She would also be something between uncomfortable and horrified to find herself in the spotlight that we are shining on her here – it was something she avoided assiduously during her life – but I’m hoping she would find the joy worth the discomfort.



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