Tributes to Bev
A Bouquet of Tributes for 26 years of dedicated service
Luke Mancuso (Associate Professor of English):
In the middle of the quilt of intricate memories I share with Bev over the last 25 years, I recall how she relieved my terror of typography in complying with the editorial demands of my first book contract. In the fall of 1996, Bev volunteered to spend 5 early evenings with me, after bone-wearying office days, leaning intently forward in front of her monitor, combing the line-by-line MLA formatted endnotes and index apparatus. Never an exasperated sigh, never once lapsing out of this trance of administrative acumen and care.
Indeed, it was letter-perfect, and commended by the editor for its formal perfection. The book is far from perfect, but it looks far more alluring on its acid-free paper, intricate textual maze of endnotes and all.
Here's my tribute to you, Bev, voiced by Walt Whitman, in the original idiom of "so long!," meaning, "It seems like too long since I've last seen you." Each time we encounter each other in the future, I will have this nostalgic tremor in the air between us. You know I don't say that about many fellow mortals. Happy, happy seasons of joy and insight to you, down the open road of the still-unstitched future.
Madhu Mitra (Professor of English):
Earlier this semester, I accompanied thirteen CSB/SJU students to the Gurusaday Museum of Folk Arts in the outskirts of Kolkata. This tiny museum houses one of the most valuable collections of kantha, Bengal's version of the hand-stitched quilt. The centerpiece in the main hall, displayed in a double-fronted glass case, is an intricately designed, exquisitely crafted dorokha kantha from the 1870s ("dorokha" refers to a style of embroidery in which the front is indistinguishable from the back). "I wish Bev were here," I remember thinking, as our guide explained the unique features of this beautiful piece of art.
The fact that Bev should pop into my awareness at that moment is hardly remarkable. She is a magnificent quilter; I was standing before a magnificent quilt. Besides, Bev surfaces in my consciousness with predictable frequency whenever I'm away from CSB/SJU. For over twenty years now, she has been my lifeline every summer-that vital link between my professional life and a distant home, be it in Ohio or in India. She has sent me books I've urgently needed to prepare for a course ("I think you might find it in the bookshelf closest to my desk, probably on the second shelf from the bottom"), forwarded my mail so that I could pay my bills, scanned and emailed chapters from library books so that I could finish an article, and hunted down elusive information from remote corners of CSB/SJU (or dipped into her own formidable archive of departmental info) so that I could complete an annual report. (To say that I am deeply grateful for all that-and much, much more-would be so insufficient as to be almost insulting.)
But it's been different this semester. Bev is almost constantly on my mind, but not necessarily because I need something (I do, of course, and she obliges graciously, as always, even from 9,000 miles away). An exciting revival of traditional handloomed textiles and traditional fabric art (like the above-mentioned kantha) is going on in Bengal right now, and I have attended several exhibitions to look at the work of weavers and kantha-artists from all over the state-and even from Bangladesh. Surrounded by vibrant colors and bold designs, I think of Bev and her passion for fabrics. I think of her unerring eye in picking out complementary colors and prints, which-when stitched together-transform into the most striking patterns. I think of her stunning quilts. And I wonder what she might think of the art of kantha stitching in Bengal.
Recently I came across an old Bengali ballad called "Nakshi Kanthar Math" ("The Field of the Embroidered Quilt"). Like most ballads, it tells the story of doomed love, between a flute-playing farmer and a woman who embroiders her story in her kantha. This free translation of the opening verse-my very first attempt at translating a Bengali poem-is dedicated to Bev:
She spreads the embroidered quilt
She works all night long
As if the quilt were her poem
Her sorrow-filled song. . . .
I know Bev is planning to devote more time to quilting when she retires. (It frightens me to think about returning to a department without Bev, but I'm schooling my mind not to dwell on those thoughts.) My best wishes, Bev, for pleasant, creative days ahead.
Christina Shouse Tourino (Associate Professor of English):
I was so fortunate to come to CSB/SJU under Bev's tenure. She provided ample and saavy advice while still indulging my--what shall we call them?--quirks, charms, idiosyncracies? Let's call them what they are: professional limitations. Who should I call? How do you save this? Where can I get one? Can you make this machine go? Bev always knew the answer, and always delivered it with clemency. When I came to the office with blaze-orange battery-powered gloves against the cold, she did not mock me. She showed the patience of Job training me in the myriad spring processes (the scholarships, the banquet, the focus groups), the details of which I never managed to dominate. I was lost 'til the end as far as Program Review was concerned. She had a deep bench of ideas to solve problems and never really seemed stumped or flustered.
She helped me in hundreds of personal ways as well, from keeping me out of the 2:40 teaching slot (and the 11:20 teaching slot, and . . . , and . . . ) to instructing students in the hallway to keep waiting because I was running late. Her sense of interpersonal politics was also unfailing; she steered me clear of hidden reefs and applied ballast to my hull as necessary. Truly she was kind, direct, adept, and gracious.
But Bev's greatest gifts to me were not professional. I turned to her with many questions, big and small. How do you create and attach a sleeve to hang a quilt? What becomes of a marriage after children? How can I offer my mother love and dignity as I watch her decline and pass away?
This new person, this "not-Bev:" in this moment I do not like him or her. He will be young and small and entirely ill-fitted to administer this obstreperous pack of academics. We will miss you dearly, Bev. Our warmest gratitude for the life you made with us all these years.
Cindy Malone (Professor of English):
January, 1990: A snowstorm stretches across the Upper Midwest, and low visibility forces a plane headed for Minneapolis to land instead in Milwaukee. I stare out of the scratched plane window and then check the time again. My interview at St. Ben's and St. John's begins in one hour. As the plane sits on the tarmac, hour after hour, I study the detailed schedule that Bev prepared for my two-day interview. At last I turn to my seatmate. "I've just missed the first half of my job interview," I tell her.
I stand in the long line at the bank of pay phones so that I can call Bev. "We can't leave Milwaukee until tomorrow morning," I report. I give her my flight information and ask hesitantly whether it might be possible to rearrange the interview. "We can do that," Bev answers cheerfully.
"We can do that"-I would hear Bev say that countless times over the next two decades, and each time she's said it I've felt the great relief I felt that day.
When I arrive in Minneapolis, thirty-six hours after my scheduled arrival, Bev meets me. She has driven in blizzard conditions from St. Joe to the airport; now, with snow flying horizontally toward the windshield, she drives skillfully and calmly to St. Ben's.
Throughout her years as Administrative Assistant, Bev has tackled the impossible and won. She has done this routinely, without fuss, as someone else might manage the everyday matters of groceries and garbage. Bev has monitored the small and precious world that is the English Department, attentive to threats of flooding, to seismic shifts, and to asteroids heading our way. When she has spotted dangers, Bev has consulted with the chair, suggested a solution, and said: "We can do that." The rest of us probably can't, but Bev can. So chairs have come and chairs have gone, but it is Bev who has kept this world spinning on its axis.
Matt Callahan (English Instructor):
I've known Bev Radaich was retiring from our department since the beginning of the semester, but I don't think I truly believed it until I attended the retirement reception for her last week. The sight of Bev surrounded by her lovely grandchildren really brought her imminent departure home to me, but even now, I am not completely convinced. Part of me, I think, still holds out hope that when I return to the office next fall, Bev will be there, sitting behind her desk, ready, as always, to answer a student query, remind me how many Great Books credits count toward the English Minor, or navigate the crisis du jour on Third Quad. Change, I know, is inevitable, but I have never known life in the CSB/SJU English Department without Bev. And although I am sure the department will carry on, here are a few things I will miss about Bev when she is gone.
I will miss the fact that whenever I have a departmental question, 96.83% of the time Bev has the answer. And in the 3.17% of occasions she is stumped, she invariably knows where I can go to get it. (If the question is quilting related, however, Bev has the answer 100% of the time.) I will miss Bev's presence during department meetings, her ability to see the big picture and the practical yet diplomatic nature of her interjections ("What if we moved 311 to the 243 slot on even days. . ."). I will miss the screen saver of her grandchildren, a daily source of pride and joy to her, and a clear indication to everyone else how much she loves and values her family. I will miss the cartoons and the quotes taped to her door, another side of Bev's personality and evidence of a value we both share. Humor, after all, makes nearly every situation better. I will miss her critical, literary eye and the joy and frustration we often shared over a recent experience English language misuse. I will especially miss overhearing Bev's conversations with our student workers and the meaningful relationships she developed with each one over time with a careful mix of kindness and authority and concern. Finally, what I will miss most about Bev is my own relationship with her, a comfortable blend of professionalism, collegiality, respect and affection. I know she is thrilled about this next chapter in her life, and, like her, I see Bev on the brink of something new and exciting rather than at the end of something old and worn. To that end, I wish her all the best. But when I do return to campus next fall and see an unfamiliar face sitting behind her desk, I know I will experience one the most ancient and universal human emotions : the pang we all feel when someone we have come to know well and care about is no longer a part of daily life.
Happy quilting Bev. And please keep in touch.
Ozzie Mayers (Professor of English):
I value Bev's intuitive sense of organization; countless times, she has managed to create a clear and an effective process whereby the department can wade through extensive and often complicated material in an organized way. She never seems to run out of ways to improve office management as well as curricular innovations. She has also been an outstanding mentor and supervisor to our student workers; I have never regretted having the student worker that Bev recommended to me. And, finally, I have treasured her abiding wit, especially in times of crises.
Jane Opitz (Writing Centers):
n u u
c v c n n
o i r f n
B E V E R L Y
a f a a e a
b f c t l p
e i i i i p
c o v a l
i u e b e
e s l
Beverly Radaich. Ah Bev. Brace Ah Devilry!
(An anagram tribute)
Bev's office is her fortress where she does so much: She can Crab Avidly Here and Brave whatever Hardy Lice anyone brings in-though when she finds them she will Rave Ah Credibly!
Whenever we look away, she becomes an Ably Rich Evader of work by "delegating" to her student workers.
When we are looking she seeks Each Valid Berry and is an enthusiastic collector of Verbs-both the Laced-Hairy and the Lacy-Haired varieties; in the end she has A Verbal Rich Dye of language. But after so much work, her Bra Ached Verily (pardon the verb tense shift here)-not to mention other body parts, as she goes home exhausted every day.
Off duty, she seems to have a fetish for the drink: She tends to Crave Hybrid Ale but will settle for the Archly Avid Beer. And at the end of the Day one heck of a Belch will Arrive.
In the end as she leaves, we gave her (there goes the verb tense again) A Bracer that Held Ivy and a Very small Bear (Bare?) Child.
We are grateful for how she has Bravely Chaired the department and, like her, we Badly Crave her Heir.
Elizabeth Johnson-Miller (English Instructor):
Having my office next to Bev's for the past few years has allowed me to witness her wide array of gifts. People seek her out to unload their cares on her caring shoulders. She not only runs the department with ease and grace, she also ensured the success of Research and Creativity Day for many years (talk about a Herculean task!). She has told me about the sewing projects she is doing for the people she loves, and I've heard about the trips she has taken--whether that means a trip to Europe or to the cabin or to see the Twins. She is one of those people who is both engaged and engaging, and she embodies the Benedictine value of hospitality. I know I am not the only one who will miss her sassy presence.
Mike Opitz (Professor of English):
Song of the Builders
On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God -
a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside
this way and that way.
How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.
Let us hope
it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.
from Mary Oliver, Why I Wake Early (2004)
Bev Radiach joined the English Department in 1987. She is not only organizational force but a teacher. Bev provided invaluable support to me in my seven years as department chair. She also provides wonderful support and guidance to our students-especially our student workers. Bev is a builder of relationships and rapport. She has brought her scrupulous honesty, organizational ability and kind concern for others to her work. Also a fine artist and her quilts have been displayed throughout the Midwest. She has been a pillar of support for this department for 26 years.
Matt Harkins (Associate Professor of English):
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a professor possessed of an unorganized soul must be in want of a Bev. Austen's version of this sentence radiates irony; mine does not. Bev knows things. She knows what you're likely to forget, when you need to remember, and how best to remind you. She also knows (as I do too) that she shouldn't need to do this reminding, but she does it anyway, and with a sense of humor that lets me think my transgressions are more forgivable than they should be.
Bev knows more about the English department than anyone else does because she's run it for decades. New chairs and faculty put themselves in her hands, and everyone else goes to her for practical advice. She knows where the bodies are buried, and who to talk to when you need something. Whether your problems be large or small, she'll help you find a solution, and without letting you feel too silly.
Perhaps most importantly, Bev treats coffee seriously and is one of the few in our neck of the third-floor Quad (praise be to John Kendall too) who can be counted on to make sure it is there and strong. I have talked with Bev about parents, grandparents, children-the pleasures and complications of all these relationships-and these chats remind me that while we work here with each other our lives move through multiple dimensions, all of which shape the colleagues and friends that stand next to us in the hallway. I will miss Bev's near-daily presence across the hall when I need a reassuring grin, a bit of friendly advice, or-even more commonly, my copy code, which I need to make copies for my class in an hour, and which I have once again forgotten.
John Kendall (FYS Instructor)
(The following lists are to be read as fast as the reader is able.)
Thank you for the patient responses to my myriad questions and inquiries about ...
paper clips and
printer paper and
work orders and
phone books and
student workers and
computer problems and
locked classrooms and
locked offices and
student schedules and
faculty schedules and
and office arrangement...
Thank you for listening (every other day!) to me about my ...
You ALWAYS-patiently and calmly-responded and took the time to make sure "it" was all taken-care-of, no matter if "it" was professional or personal. I will truly miss our 9:15am coffee conversations.
Now ... I'm making another pot of coffee-may I get you a cup? That is, if I can find the filters.
Enjoy your retirement. You will be missed.
Johanna Holub (CSB 2013):
To the woman who believes there's no such thing as too much chocolate;
To the boss who understands that students have many obligations;
To the traveler who loves to see the world;
To the grandmother who quilts for her family;
To the hard worker who toils many hours to serve the needs of others;
To the mother who rolls her eyes at her children;
To the friend who listens to stories about your roommates;
To the recent retiree who now has the time to relax:
To Bev Radaich! Congratulations!
Happy retirement! You will be missed!
Thank you for everything.
Miguel Mendoza (SJU 2014):
I've found in the last couple months that the English Department would likely struggle without the knowledge and hard work that Bev provides day in and day out. Just in my short amount of time I've seen how much she does to keep the English Department running behind the scenes and noticed how she is an integral cog in the English wheel. Her knowledge is both deep and widespread about many facets of the English Department and I do not believe the title Administrative Assistant really does her justice. She is willing to help all faculty in any way she can and shows a surprising amount of concern for students whom she rarely has the chance to interact with. I can say without a doubt that her presence in the English Department will truly be missed.
Katie Umphress (CSB 2013):
To the boss who made me eager to show up at work every day, bright and early. To the boss who encouraged me to battle my demons (i.e. The Copier). To the boss who treated me as an adult. To the boss who genuinely cared. To the boss who answered every single one of my inane questions. To the boss who proved to me that women are strong, smart, and powerful.
To the boss who makes me laugh, and now as I write this, brings tears to my eyes.
Thank you for your support, and dare I say, friendship.