Friday Sep 21, 2012
Indiana University Northwest regretfully announced this week the passing of Academic Affairs Administrative Assistant Lydia Hairston, 52, of Portage. Hairston passed away suddenly on Monday, Sept. 17.
A viewing will take place at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 26 at Apostolic Church of God, 6320 South Dorchester Ave. in Chicago. Immediately following will be a funeral service at 11 a.m.
Flowers can be sent to the church. Cards and condolences can be forwarded to Michelle Hairston at 326 Runaway Bay Circle, Apartment 1D, Mishawaka, Indiana 46545.
Hairston served the campus as the Administrative Assistant in the Office of Academic Affairs since 2007, and most recently for Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs David Malik since January, 2009.
Vice Chancellor Malik appreciated how Hairston handled the ever-increasing complexity of her role. Malik explained that Hairston was always willing to explore new ways of solving old problems with new policies, and that she rose to the challenge of delivering tough messages to units and departments when it came to appointing faculty or ensuring adherence to IU policy.
Malik also admired her willingness to personally help students to resolve their problems. “Lydia was a confidante, a friend, and a colleague who cared about students,” Malik said. “She did not hesitate to walk a new student to another office or place to ensure they received the best service.”
Those who worked with Hairston daily will miss her endearing characteristics, like her love of the Pittsburgh Steelers, her unbreakable 11 a.m. popcorn break, and her hearty and infectious laugh that infused the office with cheerfulness.
In fact, her colleagues say Hairston was probably the biggest contributor to the outwardly jovial atmosphere of the administrative suite, which is noticeably less cheerful in her absence.
“The Administrative Suite appreciates the outpouring of love and concern shown by the campus community as the result of the loss of our colleague and friend,” said Executive Assistant to the Chancellor Kathy Malone.
While the personality traits that made Hairston so likable are sorely missed by the campus, it is her closest colleagues who also appreciated the qualities that made her a highly respected colleague, such as the manner in which she handled the challenges of the job and her dedicated service.
Prior to coming to IU Northwest, Hairston served the IU South Bend campus for many years.
In fact, before moving to Portage just last year, Hairston commuted daily from South Bend to IU Northwest, often worrying co-workers when the weather made her commute dangerous.
“She was always here,” Malone said. “I thought that was remarkable.”
Even more remarkable, Malone noted, was Hairston’s journey from South Bend to her church in Chicago in time for early morning Sunday services at the Apostolic Church of God.
The youngest of many siblings, Hairston was raised in West Virginia. She spent many years in Pittsburgh, where her love of the Steelers and Pirates no doubt originated.
Candy Bushnell, Principal Secretary to the Chancellor, said that on Fridays, Hairston would be “all decked out” in her Steelers-wear, all the way from her earrings to the seat covers in her car.
Bushnell admired her friend’s health-conscious attitude. Hairston rarely missed her workouts after work in the IU Northwest Fitness Center.
Hairston leaves behind three children: David Hairston, of New York; Michelle Hairston, of South Bend; and Donald Birch, III, who is an IU Northwest student. She has one young grandson, Aiden.
Malone said she would like for Hairston’s children to know what a strong person she was, and that she was devoted to the things she believed in.
“I hope they will take the things she said into their own lives and emulate the kind of person she was,” Malone said.
IU Northwest extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Lydia Hairston.