Emory community loses three beloved longtime members

This month, three members of the Emory community died whose lives and careers have been integral to the history of the University.

Dora Helen Skypek, Professor Emerita of Educational Studies, died Feb. 14 at her home of complications from leukemia. Skypek joined the faculty in 1963 and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1969. For a number of years she held joint appointments in mathematics and educational studies, and by the time she retired she had been a member or chair of many of the major committees of the University. She was one of the founding members of the Women's Caucus, the precursor to the President's Commission on the Status of Women; she lobbied for the Commission's creation and served as a member.

Widely honored for her contributions in mathematics, education and community service, Skypek became the first woman to receive the Thomas Jefferson Award in 1982. Upon her retirement, Women in Mathematics, an international organiztion, created the Dora Helen Skypek award, and she was the first recipient recognized for "contributing signficantly to the mathematics education of girls and women."

The family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Emory Libraries in care of the Dora Helen Skypek Fund.

Charles Turner Lester, whose involvement with Emory spanned from student to professor to administrator, died of a stroke Feb. 15 at Emory Hospital. Lester began his college career as a student at Oxford College, and completed his undergraduate and master's degrees at Emory. He taught at Oxford until 1939, when he entered Pennsylvania State College to pursue his Ph.D. He returned to Emory in 1942 as a faculty member in the chemistry department, later becoming chair.

From 1957-70, Lester was dean of the Graduate School. He held various positions at Emory over the years, including vice president for graduate studies, acting dean of the college, vice president for arts and sciences, and executive vice president and dean of faculties. In 1977, he received the Thomas Jefferson Award. Following his retirement in 1982, he continued to serve Emory as University Ombudsman.

Samuel Laird, former director of Religious Life and international student adviser, died Feb. 11 of congestive heart failure. Director of Religious Life from 1944-78, Laird led the Student Christian Movement's positive response during the time Emory began integrating women, African Americans and international students and scholars wthin the campus community. He served as state director of the Methodist Campus Ministry for 26 years.

An enthusiastic athlete and sportsman, Laird was a member of the Emory Sports Hall of Fame.

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