In Memoriam

Featured obituaries from recent print editions of Mills Quarterly. (Visit our Issuu page to read In Memoriam in its entirety.) To submit listings for a future issue, please contact or 510.430.2123.

Lorry I. Lokey

In a 2004 interview with former Mills director of philanthropic planning April Ninomiya Hopkins, MFA ’03, Lorry I. Lokey admitted that, in college, he was voted least likely to succeed. And yet, with his communications degree from Stanford and passion for journalism, he founded and nurtured the news service Business Wire, which is still a thriving global media company today. 

(Erin Lubin)

Four decades later, he began racking up placements on The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s list of most generous donors in the United States. In 2006 alone, he gave away $163 million. “What am I going to do with the money?” he said in that 2004 interview. “Buy a plane? Buy a yacht? That’s not my style.” 

As the name on the Lorry I. Lokey School of Business and Public Policy might indicate, some of that largesse made its way to Mills, the alma mater of his daughter, Ann Lokey ’85. Her post-grad career at Business Wire and, later, in public relations, inspired him to give back. “Seeing her success propels me to say Mills is every bit as good as I thought it was,” he said in 2004. 

Though the business school benefited the most from his generosity— more than $20 million in total—it was not his only focus. The Charles E. Larsen Classroom in Vera Long and the School of Education also received a $3-million gift to fund renovations and building projects. Former President Janet Holmgren honored Lokey’s giving by granting him an honorary doctorate of humane letters at Commencement 2004, and he served on the Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2013. 

Most of the fortune he donated went to educational institutions, including Santa Clara University and the University of Oregon— among many others. Why? He told Hopkins that it was the only realistic alternative to opening his own college: “If I couldn’t build one, I wanted to do something that would change the complexion of a school and make it a more valuable institution.” Lokey credited the success of his own business to the education that he and his colleagues attained, and he was the largest donor in the history of the College. 

He died on October 1, 2022, in Portland, Oregon. He is survived by Ann and her two sisters, his grandchildren, and scores of colleagues and admirers. 

Jennifer Losch Bartlett ’63

The creator of dynamic paintings that defied easy categorization, Jennifer Losch Bartlett ’63 died on July 25, 2022, in Amagansett, New York. She is survived by a daughter and two sisters. 

After graduating from Mills with a bachelor’s degree in studio art, Bartlett went on to Yale, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s of fine arts degrees. Early in her artistic career, she shuttled between the SoHo loft where she settled with late husband Ed, Yale, and the University of Connecticut, where she was teaching. Her time on mass transit prompted the creation of one of the most characteristic materials of her career: steel plates topped with silkscreened enamel surfaces, similar to subway signs. A piece incorporating that medium, “Rhapsody,” later became part of the atrium at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 

“Swimmers” by Jennifer Bartlett, displayed at the Russell Federal Building and US Courthouse in Atlanta, Georgia

Bartlett’s work has been exhibited across the globe, from Documenta in Kassel, Germany, and the Venice Biennale to the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis, and numerous museums—including SFMOMA—hold pieces of hers in their collections. In a remembrance in The New York Times, Roberta Smith wrote, “Ms. Bartlett was an unrepentant maverick who started out as a fringe member of the post-Minimalist generation, Conceptual Art Division, devising mathematical or geometric systems that she need only execute, without further aesthetic decisions. She characterized this as a ‘What if?’ approach.” 

Her experimental methods, which she used in everything from printmaking to jewelry and costume design, were lauded by a wide range of art publications, including Artforum. In 2013, she characterized her process to Julian Elias Bronner from that magazine: “Sometimes the rules change, but I prefer to follow through with them until the end,” she said. “My work is finished when it’s finished, when I finish solving the problem.” 

In addition to her visual work, Bartlett also co-wrote A History of the Universe, an autobiographical novel published in 2013. 

Professor Emerita of Education Jane Bowyer

One of the biggest champions of the Mills School of Education, Jane Bowyer died on August 2, 2022. She is survived by a daughter, Elizabeth Bowyer ’02. 

Bowyer, who taught at Mills from 1975 to 2012, played an integral role in the creation of the Mills School of Education— and also took on the role of dean. During her time with the school, she particularly focused on the early childhood education program, elevating it to a place of global renown. In particular, she built strong relationships with educators in Japan, traveling there often. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Miami University in Ohio and her master’s and PhD at UC Berkeley. 

This past spring, Bowyer made a visit to the School of Education with members of her family, and according to former School of Education Dean Wendi Williams, she “looked on proudly seeing colleagues who were ‘still here,’ many of whom she mentored and supported early in their career years.” 

After retiring about 10 years ago, Bowyer continued coming to the Mills campus to audit courses in the art department with Professor Yulia Pinkusevich. In the announcement to the campus community about Bowyer’s passing, Pinkusevich reflected on her former student’s creativity: “She was never afraid of pushing herself in her art or going beyond her comfort and limitations, and she dedicated herself to her creative practice in painting and drawing throughout her later years, having several exhibitions of her work locally and beyond.” 

Kristen Allison Avansino ’67, MA ’69 

Philanthropist and Mills volunteer Kristen Allison Avansino ’67, MA ’69, died on May 15 after being struck by a car in San Francisco several days prior. She is survived by her husband, Skip; two daughters; and five grandchildren. 

Her two Mills degrees were in dance, and that’s what she pursued: At the time of her death, she was still teaching classes as professor emerita of dance at the University of Nevada, Reno. Kristen joined the faculty there in 1971, and not long after she began, she revamped the dance curriculum. She earned doctorates in education from Thomas Jefferson University in 1999 and in humane letters from the University of Nevada in 2016. 

In addition, she was a fervent supporter of the Reno community. Kristen was the longtime president and executive director of the E.L. Wiegand Foundation and executive director of the Edwin L. Wiegand Trust, and under her leadership, projects such as learning centers for children and science wings in local high schools received funding. She also served as the Nevada representative on the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts for the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, from 2003 to 2008. 

In a statement to the Reno Gazette Journal, her family said: “We will always remember her bright smile, sparkling eyes, endless creativity, and her infectious enthusiasm. She was a magnetic, stylish woman who spread positivity with every interaction, and we will lead the rest of our lives in her example and walk proudly in her path.” 

Lynda Campfield ’00, MA ’02 

At alumnae events, Lynda Campfield could often be found sitting right inside the entrance of Reinhardt Alumnae House, ready with a broad smile and a kind word for whoever came by. At Commencement 2022, just a few days after her untimely passing, her Mills friends decorated her usual chair with flowers, a robe and stole, the nametag that had been prepared for her for the day’s festivities, and the Class of 2000 felt banner, which she had proudly carried many times. 

Lynda came to Mills as a resumer: She graduated from high school in 1981 and first attended Sacramento City College starting in 1996. After earning her bachelor’s degree in English at Mills, she enrolled in the School of Education and obtained a master’s in teaching. For 21 years, she taught English at San Leandro High School, a vocation she truly loved, and she volunteered in promoting literacy efforts for people at Folsom State Prison and the California Youth Authority. Her volunteerism also extended to Habitat for Humanity, the Alameda County Community Food Bank, and her local teachers’ union. 

At Mills, Lynda was a constant presence. When she won the AAMC’s Outstanding Volunteer Award at Reunion 2013, her ensuing Quarterly profile noted that “few AAMC events happen without her involvement.” She said then: “Long before Mills would teach me ‘Remember who you are and what you represent,’ my parents taught me that if you have something to give, then you must give.” In addition to the many events she helped with, Lynda served as vice president on the Board of Governors for several years, starting in 2006. In celebrating her life, Lynda’s family noted how much she loved Mills, and her funeral repast was held at RAH. 

Lynda died on May 12 in Oakland. She is survived by three siblings, two nephews, many cousins, and a wide array of admirers, beloved students, and friends. 

Professor Emerita of Dance Becky Fuller, MA ’54

Rebecca “Becky” Fuller, MA ’54, a dancer, choreographer, and Mills College emerita professor, died on January 7 in Santa Rosa, California. Becky was a member of the dance faculty at Mills from 1955 to 1988. She taught the entire dance curriculum, including Saturday morning classes for children, and served as head of the Dance Department from 1981 to 1988.

Becky attended college at Michigan State University, then studied modern dance and choreography with Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Louis Horst at Connecticut College, and later, with Anna Halprin, on the West Coast. In 1952, she moved to Oakland, where she received her MA under Marian van Tuyl, Eleanor Lauer, and Doris Dennison. She joined the Dance Department as a faculty member, choreographing numerous works in collaboration with the renowned composer Darius Milhaud and visual artist Tony Prieto—including ’Adame Miroir (1963) and L’homme et son désir (1967). She made works for specific sites, such as Gallery Dance in the Mills College Art Museum in 1978, and Roof and Fire with Trisha Brown ’58 surrounding the Haas Pavilion in 1973. She also choreographed dances for fellow Mills dance faculty members Mary Ann Kinkead, Kathleen McClintock, and June Watanabe.

She was a beloved teacher of many young dancers who were inspired to pursue professional careers as performers/choreographers and teach in universities and their communities. Former students Brown and Molissa Fenley ’75 are internationally acclaimed dance artists. With another of her former students—Nancy Lyons, MA ’68; professor emerita in dance at Sonoma State University—Becky published dance resources that included The Moving Box, a tool kit for creative movement in primary, secondary, university, and community settings.

She was predeceased by her partner of many years, John Rinn, and will be deeply missed by her many friends and former students.

Wendyce “Wendy” Hull Brody ’68

A former member of the Board of Trustees and a prolific alumna volunteer, Wendy Hull Brody ’68 died on November 25, 2021, in Lake Placid, New York.

During her tenure on the Board of Trustees from 2007 to 2016, Wendy chaired a number of committees, including a presidential search committee. She was also an enthusiastic fundraiser who helped her peers from the Class of 1968 set a record for a 50th Reunion class in 2018, established several scholarship funds, and headed up alumnae groups in Palo Alto and San Diego.

Wendy graduated from Mills with double degrees in economics and sociology. Her career took her from SRI International in Palo Alto to the Social Security Administration in Washington, DC, where she wrote a seminal work: The Economic Value of a Housewife. Later ventures took her family to Baltimore, where former husband Bill served as president of Johns Hopkins and Wendy was on the board at the Walters Museum. The Brody Learning Commons at Johns Hopkins is named for the couple’s contributions. In retirement, the couple settled in San Diego, where Wendy volunteered with a number of organizations, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, the La Jolla Music Society, and the Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve.

She was notorious for her unlimited spirit and energy. Many will remember her athleticism in tennis, skiing, cycling, and hiking, and for wearing bright red lipstick while doing so.

Upon Wendy’s passing, President Elizabeth L. Hillman announced her death to the Board of Trustees in an email: “What I remember most about Wendy, notwithstanding her service and fierce commitment to Mills College, is her devotion to her family,” she said. Wendy is survived by two children, three grandchildren, and three siblings. A Bent Twig several generations removed, Wendy’s great-grandmother Elizabeth Johnson graduated from Mills Seminary in 1870.

Professor Emerita of Ethnic Studies Melinda Micco

A beloved and instrumental figure in the Ethnic Studies Program, who taught at Mills from 1993 to 2018, Melinda Micco died on December 5, 2021, in Oakland.

When she began at Mills, she was the only Indigenous member of the faculty, but in short order, she single-handedly championed better representation for her community on campus. Micco advocated for the planting of Indigenous healing plants across campus, and she organized the inaugural dinner for Native students in 1997. She also partnered with the group now known as the Indigenous Women’s Alliance to revive the Mills College Pow Wow, a student-driven event that annually brings people to campus from around Northern California.

Her research specialized in the intersections between American Indian and African American histories; for example, she published “Blood and Money”: The Case of Seminole Freedmen and Seminole Indians in Oklahoma based on interviews she conducted with the Black Seminole community. As ethnic studies chair, she also helped initiate the integration of Latinx and African Diaspora studies in the department. Upon Micco’s retirement from Mills in 2018, the Alumnae of Color Committee of the AAMC honored her as a Phenomenal Woman of Color.

In her later work on violence against Indigenous women, Micco partnered with Esther Lucero ’08, MA/MPP ’10, to direct a short film titled Killing the 7th Generation: Reproductive Abuses Against Native Women. All of these accomplishments built upon a most impressive entrance into academia: she enrolled at UC Berkeley as a 39-year-old single mother, and she graduated with her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate within seven years. She is survived by two children and two grandchildren.