Helen Aronson Perlman, 85, a teacher whose career included service in the Visiting Instruction Corps of the D.C. public school system and at Georgetown Day School, died of cardiopulmonary arrest Dec. 8 at Arlington Hospital.
Mrs. Perlman began her teaching career in the public schools of New York City. She moved to Washington in 1935 after her marriage to Jacob Perlman, a government economist who later worked at the National Science Foundation. In the 1940s, she was a member of the Visiting Instruction Corps and taught disabled children in their homes.
In 1952 and 1953, while her husband was in Greece on a United Nations assignment, she taught at the Anglo-American School in Athens. From the late 1950s until she retired about 1976 with 25 years of service she was a teacher in the elementary grades at Georgetown Day School. Among other things, she taught a fifth-grade class in Greek history.
Over the years Mrs. Perlman earned a reputation of being impervious to the excuses of her students, whether they were disabled or exceptionally bright or in between. She refused to accept the idea that there are any "unteachable" children among the handicapped and she was quick to call the bluff of gifted students, requiring them to back up their clever remarks and opinions with reasoned arguments and meticulous research.
An opponent of educational fads, she was particularly irritated by the "happy child theory." This holds that a teacher should first give students a sense of self-satisfaction and only then insist on academic achievements from them.
"There is no known way to make a child happy in the abstract," she used to say. "But you can make a child use his abilities to the highest capacity and only when a child knows that he has earned a right to be proud of his achievements will he be a truly happy child."
Mrs. Perlman, who lived in Washington, was born in New York City and educated at Maxwell Teachers College. In addition to spending a year in Greece she accompanied her husband on year-long assignments to Colombia, Bolivia and the Philippines. She and her husband shared an interest in history and archeology and this led to other travel.
Mr. Perlman died in 1968.
Mrs. Perlman's survivors include two children, Judith Sylvia Martin of Washington, who is the author of the "Miss Manners" books and newspaper articles, and attorney Matthew Saul Perlman of Potomac; one sister, Emelia Mitzi Rosenberg of Silver Spring; and six grandchildren.
KATHRYN VARELA PUGH,
83, a lifelong resident of the Washington area who was a member of the historial societies of Montgomery and Charles counties, died Dec. 7 at Physicians Memorial Hospital in LaPlata after a stroke.
Mrs. Pugh, a native of Washington, was the wife of James H. Pugh, who retired in 1979 as chief judge of the 6th Judicial Circuit Court of Montgomery County. She graduated from the old Central High School in 1923 and from the old Columbia School for Girls, a secretarial and business school.
In the early 1930s she was a secretary to Dumas Malone, the Jefferson scholar, during his work of "The Dictionary of American Biography."
Mrs. Pugh and her husband lived in Chevy Chase until his retirement in 1978. Since then they had lived on their farm at Nanjemoy in Charles County.
Mrs. Pugh was a member of the Society for the Restoration of the Port Tobacco Courthouse. She helped document the site of the building, which was the first courthouse in Charles County. She also was a life member of the Christ Child Society and a founding member of the parish of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and of its Sodality.
In addition to her husband, of Nanjemoy, survivors include two sons, J. Hunter Pugh Jr. of Walkersville, Md., and John Philip Sousa Pugh of Garrett Park, Md.; 10 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
MARY E.T. ZABRISKIE,
90, a former executive director of the National Cathedral Association and the widow of the Rev. Alexander C. Zabriskie, dean of the Virginia Theological Seminary, died of a heart ailment Dec. 6 at her home in Washington.
Mrs. Zabriskie was born in Chestnut Hill, Pa. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College where she was an all-American on the field hockey team.
She moved to this area in 1923 and lived in Alexandria until 1956, when her husband died. While there she served on the board of trustees of St. Agnes School.
During the 1960s she was executive director of the National Cathedral Association, a support group for the Washington Cathedral.
For 50 years, Mrs. Zabriskie had spent summers at Hancock Point, Maine.
Survivors include three sons, Rev. George Zabriskie II of Larchmont, N.Y., Dr. Philip T. Zabriskie of New York City, and the Rev. Alexander C. Zabriskie Jr. of San Juan, Puerto Rico; one daughter, Mary Forrest Zabriskie of Putney, Vt.; 13 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
CATHERINE HARRIS BROWN,
60, a retired employe of the Central Intelligence Agency and a member of St. Gabriel's Catholic Church and its Sodality, died of cancer Dec. 7 at her home in Washington.
Mrs. Brown was born in Richmond. She moved here in 1950 and attended Howard University. From 1956 to 1985 she was a clerk at the CIA.
Survivors include her husband, Manson Brown Jr. of Washington; four children, Michele Brown DeBruce of Hyattsville, Manson Kevin Brown of Miami, Joye Brown Toor of Huntington, N.Y., and Melba Theresa Brown of Washington; her parents, Ethel Thornton and Robert Harris, both of Richmond; two brothers, Nathan and Robert Harris, also of Richmond; and four grandchildren.