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The Serene and Intelligent Mildred Clarke, Class of 1932
On February 22, Doug Scanlon, our publications manager, and I set out to visit with Mildred Clarke Marr '32. I had been in touch with Mildred' daughter Elizabeth Marr Collins '67 over the last year and knew a little about Mildred. Both Doug and I were happy to have an opportunity to meet with her.
In the car on the way to Liz's house, we discussed what college life must have been like from 1928 to 1932, when Mildred was a student at the College of Our Lady of the Elms.
As Liz led us into her beautiful home and introduced us to her mother, I was struck by how content the centenarian looked. She was deep into reading a pile of Elms memorabilia and didn't even need a pair of reading glasses.
Her stack of papers included newspaper clippings from plays she had performed in, a copy of The Catholic Mirror that covered the first commencement, her yearbook photo, and a receipt for one semester's tuition costing $75. As a "day hop," or commuter student, Mildred avoided the $350 annual room and board fee.
A Tranquil Persona
As Mildred scanned through the yearbook we brought her, I asked her numerous questions about her experience at Elms. Her answers were warm but brief. With so many memories, I can't imagine one can recall events from 85 years ago. However, after speaking with Liz and reading through the yearbook, I came to realize that that's just who Mildred always was; stoic and thoughtful.
Under her yearbook photo she was described by her "cool, apparently serene, surface of 'waters stilled at even tide' . . . a calm, almost indifferent exterior."
In the yearbook section titled "What Would Happen If-" Mildred's peers pondered what if "Mildred Clarke came into class looking care-free and as though she didn't know every word of the lesson?"
The Path of Truth
Quiet, although well-liked and respected, Mildred left her mark on the college in the yearbook. She read a speech at commencement in which she examined the college's motto Viam Veritatis Elegi, or "I have chosen the path of truth." The speech was transcribed for the yearbook. She also wrote an essay for the yearbook exploring the value of philosophy and a liberal arts education
According to Mildred's 85-year-old Catholic Mirror, the purpose of an education at the College of Our Lady of the Elms was to become proficient in the art of thinking clearly, reasoning logically, speaking convincingly, and writing gracefully, among other competencies. Nowhere are these skills more prevalent than in the writings of Mildred. Her commencement speech included lines like, "The black robe of priest and nun, torch bearers of truth and frontiersmen of civilization, became a name revered and loved ..." and "for choosing truth, Eucharistic truth, the tyrant crowded the paths of exile with her children." Her eloquent and brilliant prose exhibited her drive and passion.
Mildred's peers remarked that "whatever she does it will be a success." She found success in the Department of Public Welfare where she continued to receive promotions until she was named assistant director. Mildred was the first woman to hold that position. She worked at the Department for Public Welfare for 35 years before retiring in 1978, helping to create some of the first cracks in the glass ceiling for women in the workplace.
Mildred came back to campus for her reunions and has fond memories of her times here. Her education helped her provide for her family and serve as a role model for her children and grandchildren.
It is with great honor and prestige that we recognize Mildred Clarke, class of 1932, during our 85th anniversary.