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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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WEB EXTRA: Ceremony honors long-standing GW employee

Friends, family and colleagues honored Jane Lingo, the University’s longest-serving employee, at a memorial service at Lisner Auditorium last week.

Lingo died in late February of breast cancer, after dedicating 50 years of her life to the University. She was 83.

About 300 people attended the service, which was centered around Lingo’s two biggest passions: music and conversation.

The event was mostly light-hearted, with those who were close to Lingo sharing funny anecdotes and describing the elegant fashion of the Adams Morgan native who was friends with President Harry Truman’s daughter.

“This is a celebration of life,” said University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg. “We are here together to remember an extraordinary woman.”

During her career, Lingo worked alongside six University presidents. GW’s outgoing leader spoke about her welcoming attitude and loyalty to the school. He also commented lightly that his success was due in part to Lingo’s strengths.

“I think it would have been much harder to sustain my tenure without Jane’s contributions,” Trachtenberg said.

Throughout the event, the Cherry Blossom String Quartet performed several arias, which brightened up an otherwise sad service. A photo slideshow chronicling Lingo’s life in Washington and at the University was also presented, narrated by University Archivist G. David Anderson.

The featured segment of the service was a panel of Lingo’s friends and colleagues discussing all aspects of her life – often speaking fondly of her playful mannerisms and sayings.

“She was very attentive to her friends, especially if they were ailing,” said Julia Cuniberti, a long time friend of Lingo’s. “It was so easy to be her friend.”

A graduate of the class of 1946, Lingo began working permanently for the University in 1956 when she took a position in public relations. For her 50-year tenure, Lingo held a variety of positions at GW until taking a medical leave this September. Her energetic activity in Foggy Bottom and D.C. earned her a great deal of respect, memorial participants said.

In her capacity as a public relations representative, Lingo spent much of her time speaking with members of the Foggy Bottom community – particularly those who were unhappy with the University’s often pro-development activities. One lasting memory broached was her extensive note-taking at neighborhood meetings. She distributed the notes to only a select group of people, panelists joked.

Even though she addressed this divisive issue, those she worked with say they carry no ill will and have the highest respect for the GW envoy.

“No matter what beef people had with the University, everybody loved Jane,” said Vice President for Communications Mike Freedman.

Michael Akin, director of Foggy Bottom/West End Affairs, said Lingo had a talent for establishing long-lasting bonds in the neighborhood.

“I could do (my job) for 50 more years and not have the relationships Jane had,” Akin said. “Jane was one of the classiest women I ever knew.”

Also on the panel was Ginny Daly, past president of the American News Women’s Club, 1946 GW alumnus Nicholas Lakas, a classmate of Lingo’s at GW and Jessica Tunstall, Lingo’s cousin who is a sophomore. Dick Golden, a special assistant for broadcast operations and University events, moderated the event.

Lillian Brown, a long-time friend of Lingo’s, said that the service completely captured Lingo’s life. “I thought (the service) was just perfect. She would have enjoyed every minute of it.”

After the memorial, somberly dressed attendees flocked across H Street to a reception in the Marvin Center’s Marc C. Abrahms Great Hall.

Foggy Bottom activists and GW administrators alike rubbed elbows – sipping tea and noshing on cookies – in the gathering, which brought both sides together. Even in death, Lingo was able to be a bridge between the two groups.

-David Ceasar contributed to this report.

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