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.

Joan Lewis Danforth ’53 

Though she eventually graduated from Stanford, Joan Lewis Danforth felt such an affinity to Mills that her name now adorns buildings across campus and multiple scholarships. On June 12, she died in San Francisco. 

Her career in finance—as a portfolio manager at Dean Witter & Company and then as an investment officer at Citicorp-Citibank—provided the foundation for a life of philanthropy. Joan’s interests were wide-ranging; she was board president of Big Sisters, Inc., a board member at New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, foundation commissioner at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum, and a trustee of San Francisco Performances. 

But her involvement at Mills spanned many decades—and even broke barriers. In 1992, Joan became the first woman (and alumna) to serve as chair of the Board of Trustees, and she received the Mills College Distinguished Service Award that same year. A $100,000 challenge grant she set during the 1987-88 school year helped to bring in nearly 700 new donors to the College. And, of course, “Danforth” on the Mills campus is synonymous with an apartment building on Prospect Hill, a lecture hall in the arts complex, and a named professorship that’s currently held by Professor of Art Yulia Pinkusevich. 

Joan’s affection for Mills solidified before she ever enrolled at the College—she was a Bent Twig. Her mother, Miranda Sheldon Lewis, attended Mills during its Seminary days in the 1870s, and her aunt was an original member of the Ladies’ Visiting Committee. “Joan was devoted to Mills,” said former trustee Alex Moses ’65. “She also was very funny. As an only child, she knew that she could get away with pranks for which her friends would get in trouble. Lots of stories!” 

Her surviving family—three step-children, three step-grandchildren, and one step-great-granddaughter—also remember her as a sportswoman who loved to hike, golf, ski, and play tennis; a world traveler who savored opportunities to learn about other cultures; and an advocate for women’s ongoing empowerment. 

Anita Aragon Kreplin ’63

Two white women with short brown hair pose for a photo while wearing Mills regalia at Reunion 2013.
Photo by Dana Davis

There may not be any other Mills alumna who has ever been so connected to the College post-graduation as Anita Aragon Kreplin ’63. 

She used her Spanish degree (and a master’s from Case Western) to teach the language at Mills from 1970 to 1974. Her first husband, the late Darl Bowers, was a biology professor at Mills for 38 years, and she was introduced to her second husband (and survivor) Karl Kreplin through a classmate her sophomore year. Her stepdaughter, Jeannette Bowers Bose ’84, is an alum as well—and Anita’s experience as a Mills stepparent was one she spoke of often. And she served on the AAMC’s board of governors for three terms, including as president during a particularly fraught era, and she was once executive director of the AAMC. 

“I remember how Anita would break into a song when we, as AAMC leaders, were facing difficult decisions. With her song and smile, she would break the tension and move us ahead,” said Susan Brown Penrod ’71. “She was friendly, calm, practical, and forward-looking— she optimized the magical madness of Mills.” 

Two white women posing on a stage at Reunion 2013, with the younger dressed in a blue top and black skirt and holding an award, and the other wearing black pants, an orange shirt, and a patterned button-down shirt.
Photo by Teresa Tam

The news of her passing on December 26, 2022, was a thorough shock to the Mills community, almost certainly due to how omnipresent Anita was at alum events over the years. Reactions on social media were not at all restricted by graduation year. 

Classmate Susan Miles Gulbransen ’63 noted, however, that Anita was particularly dedicated to her graduating class. She adds that she’s grateful the members of the Class of 1963 were able to resume their semi-annual on-campus lunches last fall after a long COVID pause. “Anita, always active and knowledgeable, and an important Mills support, led us up to date: ‘We’ll have to talk faster and more since we’ve missed lunches the past three years!’ Gulbransen said. “She has added so much to our lives with her rich, positive thoughts and fun ideas.” 

Former AAMC President Lucy Do ’75 first met Anita as a student when Anita was teaching Spanish at Mills. Anita later recruited Do to replace her as leader of the AAMC. “She was a wealth of knowledge not only of the AAMC but of the greater community, and the history of all subjects concerning Mills College,” Do said. “She will be greatly missed as a beacon and role model for all Mills women.” 

Anita retired from Oakland High School as vice principal in 2004—after departing her position at Mills, she also taught Spanish at San Francisco University High School. Her volunteerism also extended beyond Mills, where she won the AAMC’s Outstanding Volunteer Award in 2014, including the development of a church group to discuss literature and social issues. And she was a dedicated practitioner of meditation; Do said that it was the reason behind Anita’s trademark mindfulness and calm. 

In addition to scores of grateful former students and many Mills admirers, Anita is survived by Karl and three stepchildren. 

Jennifer Hicks Stone ’55

A broadcasting legend at progressive Bay Area radio station KPFA, Jennifer Hicks Stone ’55 died on December 4, 2022, in Berkeley. 

She was born in Tucson, Arizona, and grew up with a single father after her mother died in Stone’s teens. It was her father who sent her to Mills, where she earned a degree in theater arts before moving to New York to study acting. After a brief marriage that produced her two sons, she relocated to Berkeley and worked as a public-school teacher while raising her children by herself and trying to make it as a writer. 

Stone’s literary career began as a film critic for The Berkeley Monthly and a television columnist for women’s newspaper Plexus, which quickly blossomed to positions with other publications. Her fiction started to appear in Mother Jones and other more underground titles, leading to novels such as Over by the Caves (2012). Other releases included Telegraph Avenue, Then (1992) and Mind Over Media (1988). 

The latter shared its name with one of her long-running KPFA shows. It was in the 1980s that Stone turned to radio—she told Berkeleyside that she did it “when I lost my looks, honey”—and she eventually rounded out more than four decades with keen, witty observances on culture and feminism on her shows “Mind Over Media” and “Stone’s Throw.” She only wrapped up her broadcasting career within the last few years as her health started to falter, but as tributes showed after her passing, her legacy on the airwaves will continue for many years to come. 

Stone is survived by two sons. 

I have tried to be honest rather than sincere. The sincerity of our age is making us sick. Honesty is the work of a lifetime.”

Jennifer Hicks Stone ’55, from her book of essays, Stone’s Throw

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.