The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Lovelady retires after 44 years

 Lovelady retires after 44 years
Lovelady retires after 44 years

Lovelady retires after 44 years

When Jim Caswell, vice president of student affairs, spoke at Lillian Lovelady’s retirement reception Friday, he started to say, “One of the things I’m going to miss…”

But Ms. Lovelady interrupted.

“My sweet potato pies!”

After 44 years of working at SMU with Caswell, the facilities manager was well-prepared to finish his sentence. And her home-cooked potluck dishes won’t be the only things missed when she retires on Monday.

“Lillian has been a hallmark in our residence system,” Caswell said. “She has made a difference in the lives of the students in the buildings where she has served.”

Lovelady began working for SMU in 1961 when she was just 18 years old. Her aunt’s neighbor spoke highly of SMU and suggested she look for a job here after she graduated from high school. She started as a housekeeper, at a time when the university had separate residence halls, with curfews, for men and women.

“Would you believe in those days we still had freshmen men’s hours?” said Gene Ward, who was the director of Boaz Hall and men’s housing when Lovelady started. “A lot of water has gone under that bridge.”

“She was just as pretty then as she is now,” Ward said. “I was a little dubious having her in there with those boys.” So he recommended that Lovelady be hired by women’s housing, and that’s where her SMU career began.

Lovelady worked at every residence hall on campus, becoming familiar with the buildings and learning procedures. She took night classes at SMU and later earned an associate’s degree in apartment housing at El Centro.

She said one of her friends, a facility manager, enrolled her in the courses without telling her. She came into Lovelady’s office one day and placed a stack of books on the desk.

“You owe me $250,” her friend said.

Lovelady tried to explain she didn’t have anyone to watch her children. “It’s already arranged,” said her friend, who had found a babysitter for the kids. “You never know when the job will qualify for more education, and you need to do this,” Lovelady recalled her friend’s advice.

She later became an assistant facilities manager, and then a facilities manager, where she serves now for Virginia-Snider, Shuttles, Mary Hay and Peyton halls.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes,” Lovelady said, like boys’ and girls’ residences, changes in dress code and the permission to sunbathe on the main quad.

And “young men flashing.”

“I’d never been through anything like that before,” she said, laughing.

She remembered one incident, soon after the residence halls became co-ed, when a boy came out the bathroom and removed his towel in the hallway.

“I just said, ‘You need to put on some clothes,’ and I just kept walking,” she said. She asked an RA about it later, and he told her, “Ms. Love, that’s what they call ‘flashing.’”

“It’s been fun,” Lovelady said. “The students have kept me young. And I’ve enjoyed the people I work around.”

They’ve enjoyed her, too, though they express it in different ways.

“She just nags a lot,” said carpentry manager Fred Banes. “That’s the reason we hurry to get done. I mean that in the nicest possible way,” he added, “unless I’m the one she’s nagging at.”

Susan Austin, Lovelady’s boss and associate director of facilities operation, said that it was “a little daunting” to begin working with older, wiser women like Lovelady.

“They helped support me, and I’m going to miss her,” she said tearfully at the reception. “She’s been a joy to work with.”

Lovelady’s wisdom has come from years of experience, at her job and in her personal life. She helped support her sister and eight nieces and nephews when her brother-in-law was killed while working construction.

“When they needed anything, if I had it, quite naturally, I’d give it to them,” Lovelady said. One of her nieces commended this kindness at the reception.

“She never told us no,” she said. “We spent a lot of her dollars.”

Lovelady also overcame the death of one of her daughters in November. She looks forward to spending more time with her husband, son, daughter and grandchildren, all of whom live in the Dallas area.

Lovelady is an active member of New Friendship Baptist Church, participating in various organizations and taking food to people when there has been a death in the family.

“She’s always called me her brother,” said fellow church member Shelton Mayfield, Jr. “She’s been like a sister to me.”

Lovelady has received a variety of awards during her time here, including the Southwest Association of College and University Housing Officers Bob Cooke Distinguished Service Award in 1995 and SMU’s M Award in 2004.

After 44 years of working, she plans to relax but still keep busy.

As she put it, “I’m a senior, but I’m not ready to be a senior citizen!”

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