Irina “Ren” Vasiliev
Buffalo, NY – Irina “Ren” Vasiliev passed away November 7, 2020, of complications relating to cancer, in the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. She will be greatly missed by all who had the opportunity to know and love her.
Ren, a resident of Bloomfield, New York for over 20 years, was born August 1, 1954, in Nyack, NY. She is the daughter of post-war displaced citizens of Russian origin, Catherine (Okolovich) and Peter Vasiliev. In addition to her parents, surviving Ren is her brother Sergei Vasiliev, of Venice, Florida.
Ren was the primary scorekeeper for multi-time, multi-class WERA National Endurance champions Team Swine Dudes/Team Pearls Suzuki, and ex-wife of the team’s co-founder Peter Jones. The team also once earned third and twice earned second in the overall WERA National Endurance championship.
Ren’s achievements include earning a BA at SUNY Oswego, an MA at University of Buffalo, and a PHD in Geography at Syracuse University. Between degrees, Ren was the staff editor at the Cornell University student newspaper. After graduating from SU, Ren joined the faculty of the Geography Department at SUNY Geneseo, where she taught for over 25 years. While at SUNY Geneseo, Ren served terms as Chair of the Geography Department, and as a Faculty Senator on the College Senate.
At SUNY Geneseo, Ren earned the Award of Professor Recognition from the Academic Affairs Committee and Student Association, and Ren was presented the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence from the State University of New York. Ren was an avid supporter of the SUNY Geneseo hockey team, with many of the team’s players attending her classes. One of her most joyous moments was being awarded an authentic SUNY Geneseo hockey-team jersey by the players when she retired.
Ren’s individual publications include From Abbotts to Zurich: New York State Placenames, available from Syracuse University Press, which is a history of the origins of many of the place names of communities across New York State.
Professional memberships of Ren’s include the American Names Society, in which she served as Editor of “Names: A Journal of Onomastics” from 2002 to 2007.
In Ren’s travels, which were more a lifestyle than a profession, she completed the Chautauqua Short Course Program for College Teachers at the University of Texas in Austin, at the British Petroleum Exploration in Anchorage, Alaska, and at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory with the University of Dayton. Ren is also certified as having crossed the Arctic Circle, and she visited her extended family living in Russia.
Ren was an accomplished self-trained artist, primarily creating works in mixed media, collage, textiles, and printmaking. Ren has displayed her artwork at solo and group shows in multiple venues at SUNY Geneseo and in various galleries in Western New York. In addition to showing her work, Ren was a participating member in the Amalgamated Printer’s Association. In her pursuits in the arts, Ren was an artist in residence at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon, and at other sites around the USA.
Ren was open about her life-long struggle with bipolar disorder in hopes that it would help others around her who might suffer from any emotional disorder, particularly college students who might find it difficult to find an empathic role model during the stresses of higher education.
Ren’s family thanks the entire staff of 7 West at Roswell Park Cancer Center, including doctors, nurses, aides and trainees, who were shining examples of professionalism, compassion and courtesy throughout Ren’s stay.
A service for Ren will be announced at a future date by her long-time friend Peter Jones, when a celebration of her life, her arts, publications, and other achievements can be shared for all to safely enjoy.
In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Elm & Carlton Streets, Buffalo, NY 14263.