Iowa State University students and colleagues of long-time professor Barbara Mack said Friday they wished they were on campus to honor Mack in her retirement rather than celebrating her life after her sudden death.
“I always assumed she would be the lady in an old-folks home dispensing wisdom and profanity,” CNN anchor Christine Romans said professor Dick Haws told her.
“I wish this were a retirement roast and it was not a memorial,” Romans said.
She was one of several former students and colleagues who spoke at a short ceremony on campus Friday. Mack on the morning of Aug. 23after complaining of heart attack symptoms the night before. Mack had no funeral, but students and faculty held a memorial Friday and a second memorial will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines.
Mack, a journalist and attorney for the Des Moines Register, taught at the school since 1986 as both a journalism and media law professor.
Former ISU President Gregory Geoffroy said the school had many great professors but he would give Mack an A++ or an A-triple-plus.
“When you think about Barbara's legacy, the impact that she had in her life and the impact that she had on people, you think about the thousands of students Barbara so positively impacted. She was demanding, she set high standards, but she really cared about their individual success,” Geoffroy said.
Chris Adams, a former student, met Mack in the late 1980s when he worked at the Iowa State Daily, the university's student newspaper. She helped him pursue a set of public records that the university was reluctant to hand over and eventually won. Mack was also one of Adams' teachers.
“You laughed and learned your entire semester and she would scare the Dickens out of you and she would not have used the word Dickens,” he said.
Rather it would have been a word that would make even George Carlin blush, he said.
“She was loud, and funny and scary,” Adams said.
Romans, who graduated in 1993, told the crowd that she has felt many emotions since Mack's passing.
“The most recent is jealousy. There is one Barbara Mack in my life, but she had lots of us,” Romans said.
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