Fiona McGillivray has died

Simon Jackman, who knew her.

NYU political scientist and Rochester PhD Fiona McGillivray passed away this morning after a long struggle with pulmonary hypertension.

Despite her illness, Fiona had a great couple of years on the professional front. Indeed, there was a roundtable at APSA in Boston on Saturday on her most recent book.

Fiona was in the year of students immediately following me in the Rochester PhD program (a 1995 PhD, and if memory serves she entered the program in the Fall of 1989), where she met her husband-to-be, Alastair Smith. Fiona was a very bright light in the tight-knit Rochester PoliSci community back then: her pluck, charm and “a wee-bent” Scottish sense of humor was priceless there in Harkness Hall. Alastair and the kids are very much in our thoughts today.

I thought Neal Beck and Jonathan Katz (and others at NYU, I imagine) did a nice job this morning ensuring friends and colleagues in the profession got the news personally, rather than via something like this blog post.

PH sounds like a bugger of a disease. Alastair suggested donations to the PHA in lieu of flowers etc.

One Response to Fiona McGillivray has died

  1. Ailsa Muir September 10, 2008 at 2:22 am #

    Dear Simon,
    Thank you for your beautiful tribute to a wonderful, magical woman.
    I would like to introduce you to the Fiona I know.

    We grew up across the street from each other and practically lived in each other’s houses for many years. We met when I was six yrs old and instantly bonded. Fiona has two beautiful sisters all Red Heads/Strawberry Blondes you can imagine the excitement they created when they moved to our Avenue. Three new playmates, all thrilling, fun and mischievous, just like my little sister and myself.

    Fiona and I became instant solid friends-we shared a love to dance, especially Ballet, at which she excelled. We used to walk home from dance classes and stuff ourselves full of Doughnuts-a treat we were not really allowed. Fiona loved Custard and I always had Raspberry. We would buy two or three each and eat them as quickly as we could so that we wouldn’t be caught by a neighbor or heaven forbid a teacher! So we often had Doughnuts pouring out of our mouths as we laughed and talked our way home!

    When we went to High School, I would pick her up every morning. I always ran late as I was into black lipstick and funky hair-she always patiently waited for me. Her Father left for work around the same time and often complimented me on my clothes-most of which were made by Fiona’s Mum Anna-a Genius Designer. My Mum is a fab knitter and used to make them all their cardigans and winter sweaters-in exchange I would bring a drawing to Anna-usually something quite bizarre and she would make it for me. I loved one skirt so much that I wore out the fabric!
    We would talk about the usual teenage traumas, boys, spots, bad hair, how to negotiate school, what happened on Dallas or who was on Top of the Pops! And dream about our futures.

    We both had big plans and were serious students. I would wave to her in the evening from my bedroom as we both studied-we even tried too set up a telephone via string and Polystyrene cups-No, it didn’t work but was quite an achievement as we lived on opposite sides of the Avenue and took much effort plus a mile of string to get it to our bedrooms, unnoticed by our parents (they probably knew.)

    When my family fell apart-her parents took care of me and I was a frequent much loved guest at their home. They had a Wish Catcher from Denmark in their kitchen; I would blow on it every morning, before school. It worked!

    I almost followed her footsteps to Glasgow University, but opted for Art School in London instead. Whenever I came home we would catch up in their amazing basement, a tunnel of fabulous rooms. Her parents were famous for their World-Renowned Hogmanay Parties and we welcomed many New Years together.
    Always with bigger and bigger dreams.

    Tragically her Father died very, very young and we lost touch for many years. We sent postcards and Holiday letters. I knew about all her babies and she and Alastair almost named Molly after after me! A true honour I never understood, as I did not feel I deserved it. Funny but she turned out to be a natural original fashionista at the tender age of seven! So much cooler and chicer than I.

    It was not until the past year or so that we finally caught up in N.Y.C.

    I was also horribly sick and have been in and out of Hospital, too many times to count. One time I went to visit and I took off my boots at the front door and we were both wearing the same Hospital socks! We laughed so much; it was such a relief to talk to her about our hideous Hospital experiences and horrible Doctors. Fiona made me strong-we have always been fighters.

    I got lucky… I am well.

    When my Dad died in March this year-I do not know how she knew but she called me that morning and told me to come over immediately-which I did. We drank a shot of Whiskey in his Honour- I drank a lot more. My grief was so intense but she listened as I wept and hugged me better, even though she was so sick herself, her Heart never changed.
    Fiona is an Angel-stolen from us too early but headed for bigger and more important missions.
    My Dearest Fiona-I miss you terribly. Despite all of your obstacles in life you held yourself like a true Prima Ballerina, always full of grace and fair of face.
    Thank you for making me laugh so much, you are my inspiration, I always looked up to you.
    Dance On My Love.
    Miss you so much, Ailsa.