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Lu Ann Williams Darling ’42

A picture of Lu Ann Williams Darling

Lu Ann Williams Darling ’42, October 11, 2012, in Los Angeles, California, from a series of strokes. Lu Ann was the first in her family to attend college. “It was my mother’s dream to have more education,” she later wrote. “She pushed that value onto me and it took!” Growing up in a working-class family, Lu Ann demonstrated early on a determination to succeed. She earned top grades at Lincoln High School and received a grant and work-study package that enabled her to attend Reed. Her adviser, Spencer Albright [political science 1940–42], encouraged her to do an interdivisional major between psychology and political science. To earn money, she worked for Ann Shepard ’23 [dean of women, 1926–68] and served as a telephone operator and receptionist in the president’s office. On Saturdays and during holidays, she did stockroom work at Charles F. Berg department store, including pressing new dresses. (One of her college papers was titled “The Seamy Side of Life.”) At Berg’s, she also operated the elevator and worked in the shoe department. “The financial picture was always front and center in my mind, as it was for many of the day dodgers like me who commuted to Reed,” she noted. Encouraged by Albright, Lu Ann accepted an internship with the Portland Civil Service Board in her junior year and was promoted to part-time personnel technician there during her senior year. Fellow technician Richard Darling was smitten by her. “So here I was,” she wrote, “balancing my Reed schedule, my work schedule, and my thesis writing with my personal life. Ouch! It was hard and conflicting. But also very exciting!” Dick went to war, and they married a year later in the Eliot Hall chapel. After graduation, Lu Ann earned a master’s in education at the University of Michigan and an EdD from UCLA. “As it did for many of us, Reed taught me how to think. That plus my pattern of hard work and perseverance have paid off—I have had a long and successful professional career.” She worked in personnel with the Corps of Engineers and UCLA; served as a consultant in leadership and organization development at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles; did organizational consulting in health care; and wrote two books, Strategic Thinking for the New Health Care and Discovering Your Mentoring Mosaic: A Guide to Enhanced Mentoring. An illness contracted during World War II put Dick on disability early in life, and he died in 1985. Lu Ann worked full time while raising their children, Martha Darling ’66 and Steve. “Extraordinary wife, mother, mentor, and friend, her caring heart and twinkling eye will be missed by the many people she so positively influenced. She was a treasure to her family and her multitude of friends and colleagues.” Survivors include Martha and her husband, Gil Omenn; Steve and his wife, Linda; and three grandsons, David, Michael, and Ricky. Donations in Lu Ann’s memory may be made to the Lu Ann Williams Darling Class of 1942 Centennial Scholarship Fund.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2013

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