May 26, 2014
Patricia Totten, who worked 45 years in the Office of Alumni Affairs, died May 25,
2014, at St. Peter’s Hospice in Albany.
Born March 29, 1931, in Saratoga Springs, she was a lifelong resident of the city who graduated in 1949 from the former St. Peter’s Academy on Broadway. She began working at Skidmore’s development office in 1950 and moved to the Office of Alumni Affairs in 1973 as an administrative assistant, a title she held until her 1995 retirement.
Pat was well known for editing the class news items published in Skidmore Scope, and when she retired she was the subject of a feature in the publication. According to the story, “At first it was the happy prospect of earning a whopping $25 a week (respectable wages in 1950) that attracted her to Skidmore. But what kept her here so long was the College itself. ‘This is a great place to work,’ Totten said. ‘People care about each other. We become like family.’”
Pat worked under four Skidmore presidents and accumulated many colorful memories. The story noted, “Offices in one Victorian mansion were so cold in winter, ‘we stuffed copies of alumnae publications under the doors to keep out the drafts.’” Her key responsibilities were to provide information for class newsletters, the Alumnae Quarterly, and Scope magazine, working with some 60 volunteer class secretaries. “Jobs, marriages, births, deaths, degrees, travels—the lives of thousands of alumni were grist for her typewriter and then for her computer. ‘I loved it; you learn a lot about people,’ Pat said.”
Former Alumni Affairs Director Victoria Green Aldrich ’74 said, “As the editor of Class Notes, Pat knew every alum. She was integral to keeping alumni informed of what was happening in their classmates’ lives.”
Larry Lichtenstein ’79 also served as alumni affairs director during Pat’s tenure. He called her “wonderfully polite and warm—an enormously likeable person.” Larry added, “She formed very close relationships with class secretaries, who valued the work she did with them, and that is a big reason she was named an honorary alumna in 1995.” It was a fitting honor for an employee who called Skidmore “my life,” and it was a very meaningful recognition for Pat.
Pat’s survivors include a sister, Sister Margaret Totten, C.S.J., of the Provincial House, Latham; and two brothers, Thomas F. (Alberta) of Ballston Lake and John J. (Katherine) of Saratoga Springs. Pat was predeceased by her fiancé, L.D. Bull, a longtime Skidmore carpenter, and a sister and brother-in-law, Marie Elizabeth and Kenneth Savard.
Burial was at St. Peter’s Cemetery.