I didn’t expect to laugh.
But there we were, gathered in Aycock Auditorium to honor the memory of former Chancellor Patricia Sullivan and the laughter came.
The memorial service was exactly what we needed. It was a celebration of a life well lived. As Chancellor Linda Brady said, we were gathered together in “joyful remembrance.”
JoAnne Smart Drane '60 spoke of the time she and Sullivan wore the same suit to an event.
Nice suit, she remembers telling Sullivan. She flashed me that smile which let me know it was time to work different parts of the room.
When former Provost Edward Uprichard walked out on stage wearing his orange academic regalia, the audience chuckled and applauded. Sullivan used to teasingly call him The Great Pumpkin when he wore it.
She loved to wear her regalia to special events, he said. This one's for you, Pat.
David Vaughan, assistant vice chancellor for academic resources, recalled the first day he met her. They were in the stairwell of Mossman Building and she greeted him with a cheery good morning.
As luck would have it, he was suffering from laryngitis and whispered his greetings. She leaned in earnestly and asked, Do you need a lozenge?
That struck us funny, because it was so typical of her personal caring. My personal favorite story about Chancellor Sullivan occurred as we were putting together the special magazine at the time of her retirement. She graciously allowed us to come to her office and photograph her bookcase filled with mementos. While we were there, photographer David Wilson’s shoe came apart. He walked around, the sole of the shoe flapping as he took pictures.
She stared at it intently. You should glue that.
Good idea, David said. Do you have some glue?
She called out of the office and someone returned with some Super Glue, but it had dried up.
Disconcerted, she walked out of the office and returned a short time later with a handful of rubber bands. Try these, she said. So they slipped the rubber bands around the toe of the shoe and held the shoe and sole together. She was satisfied.
They say details reveal character. It was those details that we celebrated at the memorial service. The way she knew our names. Wrote us notes. Cared about the smallest things.
While we embrace the next chapter for UNCG, it was lovely to take a few moments to honor the woman who brought us to where we are now. It was a joyful remembrance indeed.
Beth English '07 MALS, Editor