Elizabeth Ransom Gallistel, 96

Wed, 06/13/2012 - 7:06pm

Dr. Elizabeth Ransom Gallistel, of Hamden, Conn., and Center Road, died on May 31.
She was born September 21, 1915 to Ralph Daniel Ransom and Mabel Atkin Ransom of Madison, Wis. She earned a Bachelor’s degree summa cum laude at the University of Wisconsin in 1936, and married Albert Francis Gallistel Jr. in January 1938. They raised their four children on beautiful Lake Minnetonka, Minn., instilling in them their own love of canoeing, camping, sailing, skiing and travel.
In the 1960s, with her two younger children still at home, Elizabeth entered graduate school in Psychology at the University of Minnesota, receiving her Ph.D. in 1968. She then joined the faculty of the School of Education, where she developed the Gallistel-Ellis Test of Coding Skills, which is widely used to diagnose reading deficits, allowing teachers to tailor their lesson to the individual student.
When her marriage ended in divorce in 1972, she moved to New Haven to join the faculty at the University of Southern Connecticut, where she was Professor of Special Education until her retirement in 1985. She developed the Fun Phonics teaching materials for building reading skills. Thousands of students have benefitted from her innovations in reading instruction.
Optimism, self-confidence, keen intellect, love of the outdoors, enduring friendships, and a sense of adventure were her distinguishing characteristics. Some of her favorite memories were travels with family members to Timbuktu and the Dogon country in Mali, visiting the prehistoric rock paintings in Tanzania with Mary Leakey, celebrating her 75th birthday at Jane Goodall’s Gombe Stream camp, yachting along the coast of Turkey in her 80s, sailing down the Yangtze, and trail riding in the northwestern Rockies. In retirement, she spent her winters at the family house in Snowmass, Colo. She took her last run on a black diamond trail there when she was 88. She swam, sailed and played Scrabble and poker into her 90s with her many friends on her beloved Block Island.
She was greatly loved and admired by her twin sister, Lucile Ransom Krug, and the families of her four children: Susan Levy, mother of David and Daniel; Dr. Lucie Colvin Seward, mother of Charles and David Colvin; Dr. C.R. Gallistel, father of Adam; and Anthony A. Gallistel, father of Terry; by her six grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. She will also be sorely missed by her fast friend Jeanette Stone.
All who knew her thought her a truly remarkable woman.
Memorial services are to be scheduled at Whitney Center and on Block Island.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Mrs. Gallistel’s memory may be made to the Southern Poverty Law center, 400 Washington Ave, Montgomery, AL 36104; www.splcenter.org, or WETA Public Television, 3939 Campbell Ave, Arlington, VA 22206, www.weta.org, or Sierra Club, 85 Second St, 2nd FL, San Francisco, CA 94105, www.sierraclub.org.