A memorial service was held yesterday afternoon for Mary Low Cheadle, the former first lady of UC Santa Barbara, who died this summer at the age of 92.
The widow of Vernon I. Cheadle, the second chancellor of UCSB who led from 1962 until 1977, Mary passed away after battling a lengthy illness and slipping into a coma.
Chancellor Henry T. Yang, who spoke at the memorial yesterday, said Mr. and Mrs. Cheadle shared a cooperative dynamic and together played a defining role during the formative years of the UCSB campus.
“Mary and Vernon were a great team,” Yang said. “Hand in hand with the entire campus community, they planted the seeds for the wonderful blossoming of UC Santa Barbara that we all enjoy today. Together they led this campus with vision and tireless dedication at a very early stage in its development.”
During Cheadle’s term as chancellor, the number of academic disciplines on campus increased by 64 percent, and student enrollment rose from 4,700 to more than 12,000. Shortly after his run as chancellor, Vernon Cheadle was honored for his positive contributions and leadership to the UCSB campus with the naming of Cheadle Hall.
Yang said he remembered the warm welcome he received from Cheadle and his wife upon his own induction as UCSB chancellor.
“When Dilling and I came to UC Santa Barbara in 1994, Mary and Vernon [Cheadle] were the first couple who invited us to dinner at their home,” Yang said. “That evening, we found we had made two new friends, gained two new mentors and been warmly welcomed into the UCSB family.”
According to Elizabeth Witherall, a Davidson Library editor and close friend of Mary Cheadle, the UCSB library was a haven for Cheadle and the subject of her unending generosity. Witherall said the two became companions when Mary chaired the Friends of the Library from 1988 until 1991.
“In a general way, she was an ambassador for the library, and in a specific way she and Vernon provided the [1994 Mary Low Cheadle Endowment] that continues to allow special collections meet its goals,” Witherall said.
The chancellor also reflected on the altruism of the Cheadles and their support of UCSB programs and funds, particularly Mary’s endowment of her own home to the campus.
“Truly, the Cheadle family’s generosity is legendary. They generously gave their time and financial support to so many areas on our campus,” Yang said. “I was especially touched when Mary donated to our campus her own home, where she and Vernon had shared so many happy memories.”
Yang said Mary’s presence had forever shaped the character of UCSB.
“Mary was a wonderful and loyal friend to this campus, and to all of us. She touched so many lives with her kindness, her warmth and enthusiasm and her gentle humor. She was generous in all respects, full of wisdom and heart,” Yang said. “Together she and Vernon helped lay the foundation to make UC Santa Barbara not just a world-class university, but also a community and a campus family.