Wavalene Kumler Tong 1959
Posted Dec 19, 2022
Wavalene Kumler Tong ’59 died September 21, 2022. Known as “Jinx,” A resourceful educator, inquisitive scientist, worldwide
traveler, savvy outdoorswoman, active church member, and loving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, Jinx devoted her life to making the world a better place.
Born December 23, 1937, in Lancaster, Ohio, to the late Karl and Florence Kumler, both of whom grew up in Ohio farm country. As a child, Jinx enjoyed visiting the family farms. At Bexley High School, she played clarinet in the Capital University
Concert Band and for the high-stepping Lions’ marching band. She also acted in school plays. A key member of the field hockey team and Sigma Alpha Tau “Owls” sorority at Otterbein College, Jinx was a serious student, majoring in biology to prepare for medical school.
During her college years, Jinx fell in love with Curtis Whitfield Tong ’56. She married Curt in 1958 and joined him in Rapid City, South Dakota for his final year in the Air Force. While in South Dakota, Jinx finished the coursework for her Otterbein
As she raised three energetic youngsters, Jinx decided to become a teacher instead of a physician. After completing necessary education coursework at Otterbein, she took a job teaching biology at Westerville High School. Inspired by women scientists like Jane Goodall, Jinx enjoyed getting students excited about lab work and interested in nature. Always up for a new adventure, Jinx supported Curt’s decision to leave his basketball coaching job at Otterbein in order to design a graduate program in physical education at the University of Vermont. Jinx enjoyed her life as a Vermonter – climbing mountains, finding fiddlehead ferns, and cross-country skiing – but she was also happy to move to Massachusetts one year later to become a biology teacher at Buxton School in Williamstown, while Curt took on basketball and tennis coaching responsibilities at Williams College. While living in Williamstown, Jinx became a runner, training for the Boston Marathon that she completed on Patriot’s Day in 1981.
More opportunities for new adventures arose when Jinx and Curt decided to spend a sabbatical year at International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan. Jinx embraced her immersion in Japanese language and culture, practicing the arts of
flower arranging, tea ceremony, and taiko drumming. On their way back to the States, Jinx and Curt visited numerous countries in Asia, Africa, and Europe.
After living and traveling abroad, the prospect of taking on new challenges in California enticed both Jinx and Curt. In 1983, Jinx began the new academic year as a biology instructor at the Webb Schools, where she ultimately became Dean of Vivian Webb School for girls. Jinx championed the school’s Peccary field trips to stunning western locations. She loved camping in the deserts of the Southwest, snorkeling near Catalina Island, and leading the senior girls on their annual hike up Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. At age 68, Jinx completed her last climb of Half Dome with two of her grandsons.
Jinx and Curt returned to Williamstown in 1998 for retirement years filled with travel, community service, and time with family. Highlights included a year teaching English in China, a trip to Nicaragua for a grandson’s wedding, a trip to
Turkey for a granddaughter’s wedding, and summers at their New Hampshire lake house.
Predeceased by her husband Curt ’56 and brother Karl Kumler, Jinx is survived by her three children Karinne, Kyle, and Kurt; their respective spouses Tom Heise, Deborah Tong, and Mika Marumoto; her seven grandchildren Conor, Emily, Jack, Mia, Reia, Kurt, and Kyle; and her four great-grandchildren – Martha, Mira, Conor, and Aya Jinx.