Obituary: Antonia Neubauer
November 22, 1943 – April 16, 2023
Antonia (Toni) Neubauer, founder of READ Global, a not-for-profit cultural agency dedicated to developing community libraries and resource centers in Nepal, Bhutan and India, died of gastric cancer on April 16, 2023. She was 79.
READ was founded 32 years ago from a casual question Neubauer asked of her Nepalese guide: “What is the one thing you would like to see in your village?” When she got the answer “a library,” Toni sprang into action. Today, more than 2.5 million people have access to 131 READ Centers owned and managed by the local communities in Nepal, India and Bhutan.
“Our mother was always an intrepid traveler with a taste for adventure and a keen interest in the culture and traditions of people everywhere,” said Melissa Anderson, her daughter. “She wished to empower local communities to fortify the things they valued most. As a former educator, she felt literacy was essential to unlock power and sustainability.”
In 2006, READ Nepal won the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Access to Learning Award. READ subsequently received a Replication Grant from the Foundation to bring its unique model to Bhutan and India and expand in all three countries. In 2009, Neubauer was recognized by the Nepal Tourism Board for her contributions in developing rural tourism through literacy. In 2020, she was awarded the Regmi International Peace Award by the government of Nepal for her contributions to the country.
Toni Brody was born in Scarsdale, NY in 1943. She earned her B.A. from Tufts University in 1965, a master’s degree in French Literature from NYU, and a Doctorate in Education from Loyola University in Chicago. She taught French and Spanish, and eventually became an education researcher, directing major studies on literacy and school-business partnerships in the U.S. Later, she served as a consultant for the Pew Foundation, Lily Endowment, and the U.S. Department of Education. She married Joseph Neubauer in 1965 and lived in Connecticut, Chicago, and Philadelphia. They were divorced in 1990. She spent the next 30 years living in the Lake Tahoe region. In addition to founding READ GLOBAL, Neubauer owned and operated Myths and Mountains, an educational travel company that she founded in 1988 and sold to Wild Frontiers in 2019.
“Mom loved the cultures of Southeast Asia which were not easily accessible to Western travelers in the 1990s,” said her son, Lawrence Neubauer. “By hiking the mountains and investigating local cultural festivals, she developed personal connections with the best local guides, educators, and mountaineers. She constructed educational experiences for travelers not only interested in learning but also willing to strengthen local communities. Many of her clients became early supporters of READ Global.”
Myths and Mountains received Travel and Leisure’s Global Vision Award the London Observer’s Ethical Award as well as being cited in “National Geographic Adventure” and Outside Magazine. Neubauer was recognized as the Conde Nast travel specialist on Nepal, was a frequent guest on radio programs such as “Fodor’s Travel Show” and appeared on television in “Passport to Adventure.”
Neubauer is survived by her two children, Lawrence Neubauer and Melissa Anderson, her son-in-law, Paul Anderson, seven grandchildren, a sister, Jeannie Brody, and a niece, Omara Brody-Adda.
A Celebration of Life will be held on April 30 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Hamilton Gardens in the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Pa. Her family asks that to the extent people want to honor her, donations can be made in her name to READ Global at https://www.readglobal.org.
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