Retired staff member Elaine Eastham, who served Chico State with administrative support for more than three decades, passed away January 25. She was 70.
Born August 4, 1949, she grew up in Mount Shasta and first visited Chico State in summer 1966, as one of the first groups of high school students in the Upward Bound program. She attended the University from 1968–70 and again in 1976. Some of her first jobs with the University were as a student, with positions in the communication and information studies department, Meriam Library, University outreach program, and the College of Natural Sciences.
In 1980, she began her professional career as an administrative support assistant in the College of Natural Sciences, moving between the Departments of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Physics. In 1992, she began working as an administrative support assistant in the Department of Nutrition Science, where she would eventually be promoted to administrative support coordinator and spend the rest of her career before retiring in 2012.
Eastham’s former colleagues describe her as positive, kind, supportive, and helpful. They said she was “a stabilizing force,” a great listener and source of advice, and always quick with a joke.
“Elaine was one of the kindest and most thoughtful people I have ever known. She constantly looked for ways to help me in any way possible. Her humor and warmth made each day more pleasant,” said former program coordinator Barbara Kirks. “She was welcoming and helpful to anyone who came into the office, be it an administrator, long-time faculty member, or a student in a single GE class. Her mantra was always, ‘How can I help?’ She made a difference in my life and that of so many others.”
Former Department Chair Katie Silliman recalls that she relied on Eastham heavily, especially for her institutional memory. She said Eastham also created a positive environment where faculty and students would stop by just to chat, and she enjoyed the role of mentor and life advisor.
Students truly were Eastham’s favorite part of the job, former colleagues agreed.
“She knew all the students who came into the office by their first name and shared her endless wisdom with them as their away-from-home proxy mother,” said former program coordinator Cindy Wolff. “Elaine cared deeply about those with whom she worked, and her scrappy words of advice about setting limits still ring in my ear.”
Eastham is survived by her husband, Darryl, son Landon, daughters Patti and Crystal, granddaughters Holli and Erica, and great-granddaughter Melia.
The University flag will be lowered Thursday, February 13, in her honor. We will share service details when we learn of them.