The IU-South Bend Community mourns the passing of Linda Stearly, who died on June 28th, 2014. Linda was an alumna of IU South Bend, earning a B.S. degree in Medical Technology (1978). After the birth of her two children, Christopher and Megan, Linda returned to IU South Bend in 1995, employed as the Secretary to the Departments of Chemistry and Physics. Three years later, Linda advanced to Administrative Assistant in the Dean’s Office of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS). She retired from full-time employment in September 2011, but returned to work in the Dean’s Office part time, where her institutional knowledge and expertise ensured the smooth functioning of CLAS and the completion of many important projects.
Linda was known for her love of learning, commitment to excellence, and self-assuredness; these qualities made her at home at IU South Bend. As Secretary of the Departments of Chemistry and Physics, she had an immediate transformative effect on the departments. Her talent for getting the job done quickly earned the respect of two seasoned department chairs. Linda appreciated the challenge of new responsibilities and enjoyed networking with others on campus. She had a reputation for forthright yet pleasant interactions that served her well during her entire career. Steve Shore, who served as the Department Chair of Physics at the time, reflects, “She loved her work, and the institution, and the contact with others – me, for one – that gave a sense of what IU South Bend was for and about.” Linda was an integral member of the departments.
Linda developed strong and lasting friendships at IU South Bend. “Linda had lots of friends and really didn’t need to add me to her list, but she did and she always made me feel like I was her special friend,” expressed Linda Knefely, Secretary of the Department of Mathematics. Linda Knefely also observed, “When she (Linda Stearly) took new CLAS secretaries around to introduce them that it took half a day because so many people stopped and talked with her.” Steve Shore also echoes these sentiments, “From the first moment I met Linda she was like sunshine, however grey the time. Her sense of humor was just one gift, she was always immediately ready to help in anything. I used to stop into the office just to say hello and share a moment of peace with her.” Such sentiments are common among the faculty and speak to who Linda was.
Her considerable talents garnered her such a reputation that she was recruited by the Dean’s Office to become the Administrative Assistant to the Associate Dean in 1998. Although not unexpected, the advancement caused much consternation in Chemistry and Physics and lead to complaints about poaching and the stealing of “our secretary”. The intensity of the loss felt by the departments was unusual and testifies to the strength of the relationships Linda had formed with the faculty and staff Linda Knefely describes them thus: “the Physics and Chemistry faculty and staff always had a special place in her heart”. Doug McMillen, who worked with Linda in the Department of Chemistry and then later in the Dean’s Office, agrees and adds, “The Physics and Chemistry faculty and staff, both current and retired, have a special place in their hearts for Linda.”
Not surprisingly, Linda set a new standard for excellence in the Dean’s Office, and quickly formed a strong relationship with Lynn Williams, who served as the Associate Dean of CLAS at that time. He held Linda in high regard, describing her as a good friend and “one of the best administrative assistants he had the privilege of working with during his 34 years at IU South Bend.” Associate Dean of CLAS, Doug McMillen recalls, “I came directly from a faculty position into the administrative position and found my new responsibilities a bit overwhelming. Linda’s expertise as an administrative assistant and her support as a friend were much needed and appreciated.” During her time as Administrative Assistant, IU South Bend moved more to an online environment. Linda took the initiative to get trained and to understand the new software, including the process of electronic documentation for hires (eDocs). Her expertise, attention to detail, and ability to effectively communicate the ever changing policies and rules earned Linda the appreciative title, CLAS Queen of Edocs.
Linda took great pride in her work at IU South Bend, but was most proud of her children, Christopher and Megan, and her grandchild Christian. Her retirement gave Linda more opportunity to spend time with Christian and to be a doting grandmother. A warm smile always greeted those asking Linda about Christian. Linda also adored her little dog Sully, who brought puppy-dog spunk into her life. Linda valued her family and friends, keeping all of them close to her heart. Linda touched our lives and as fittingly stated by Steve Shore in his devotion, “I will miss her, with all my heart, and I know the same will be true for many. I loved her, and to Chistopher and Megan, thank you for sharing your mother.”
Compiled and written by Doug McMillen.