Julie Reich, former professor and dean of Moore College of Art & Design, died on December 29, 2020, after a short illness.
Dr. Reich grew up in the Brooklyn and Queens boroughs of New York City. She earned a BA from Smith College in 1962. After completing her PhD in anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, she joined Moore as an assistant professor, serving from 1967 until 1980. From 1982 until 1983, she was dean of faculty, and from 1983 through 1984, she was dean of the College. "Adding a touch of feminist humor to her position, she could be seen around the college sporting a pink t-shirt that read “Dean” given to her by a friend and she is still remembered for her fringed leather miniskirts," recalled her friends Elizabeth Dailey and Janice Merendino '74.
In the early 1970s, Reich was one of the first academics to see graffiti as a form of public folk art. She came to know some of the wall writers and invited them to speak to her folk arts class. Her photographs and research stand as rare documents of both the era and this ephemeral form.
She traveled extensively, usually to non-tourist destinations in Africa, Australia and Central America, always in search of nature's unheralded gifts to mankind—birds, animals, scenery.
Probably the most impressive contribution to Philadelphia that Reich made was her volunteer work at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. She was passionate about nature, flora and fauna alike. Her yard in Chestnut Hill was a mini forest and she worked happily creating shelter and habitat, especially for birds. Her association with The Academy was a wonderful place for her to express this passion along with her respect and love of science.
"I helped Julie build a database for donors, collectors and preparators that had contributed to the historical ornithology collections and their relatives, whom Julie often reached out to personally to reconnect families with their relatives’ historic contributions to ornithology and the Academy," said Dan Thomas, manager of the vireo collection and intellectual property rights. "Julie had an intense passion for her work at ANS and the collections themselves, which I won’t soon forget.”
In her retirement she had many interests, always learning new skills. She took classes at Philadelphia School of Circus Arts after her retirement. She studied aerial work including trapeze and rope, again bravely pushing her boundaries.
"I well remember that a crew of us went to see a performance of her doing this at Temple University one cold Sunday afternoon," said Leo Joseph, with whom Reich worked as a volunteer at ANS. "I was flabbergasted; we all were. She seemed to be made of rubber but performed with the calmly executed skill of an old hand, it seemed to me. And this from a person well into her retirement years."
She supported civic, political, and cultural causes and events, endowing scholarship funds at Smith and Penn before she died.
Reich leaves an aunt, Ellen Cooper; a brother, David; two nieces, Suzanne Reich and Jessica Reich (Bentham Paulos) and their children, Sam and Connor Gibson and Jerome and Georgia Paulos.