In the coming days, Maryville College will say goodbye to two of its sweetest staff. After years of service to this acclaimed academic institution, both Ms. Mary Anne Frost, the administrative assistant for the division of behavioral sciences, and Mrs. Carolyn Potter, the administrative assistant for the division of humanities, are retiring.
These ladies are undeniably so much more than their long titles afford. First, I visited Mrs. Carolyn Potter and, while she was obviously busy, she had no hesitation in meeting with me. Her calm Aussie accent added to a soothing presence that has happily provided counsel to students and colleagues alike in past years. There was also an apparent uniqueness within the woman, and soon it was clear that her kind exterior was not the only characteristic deserving recognition. Potter is also one of the most multifaceted and strongly independent woman I have ever meet. When asked about her most memorable moments here, she reminisced on how she would be called into a friend’s office to go catch bats.
“I would catch the bats and then carefully let them out of the building,” she said. When asked how in God’s name this was done individually she responded, “Oh, well I would just throw a towel over [my hand] and pick them up.”
In addition to being an avid bat catcher, Mrs. Potter is also a certified EMT, firefighter and a skilled “llama wrangler.” In fact, she is especially looking forward to “helping out with the ambulance, and working in the garden” when she retires. Indiana Jones seems quite boring when compared to this lady.
Second, I visited Mrs. Mary Anne Frost, and as I walked into her office the scent of essential oils and lightly freshened air flowed lovingly into my nose. Her office was decorated with a pin up Christmas tree and many other seasonal tidings. I was immediately relaxed and almost sleepy by the time I sat down. Mrs. Frost also possessed this uncanny power of relaxation as mirrored by her warm, kind and lightly firm handshake. A natural aura of comfort seemed to cling to her, and I began to feel a ting of sadness that this jovial woman would be leaving soon. Mrs. Frost considers herself a “caretaker” to her beloved students and faculty members here, having to “put out the fires when the fires start and get things done before they need to be done.
“Sometimes we have to prod people along,” she said with a laugh. “We get to be the naggy momma.”
While Mrs. Frost has been like a mother to many on campus, she is now very excited to prioritize her grandchildren. What fortunate grandchildren. These women’s retirements are well deserved, yet their absence will be felt emotionally by both students and staff. These two ladies of kindness, grace, adventure and warmth have made Maryville College the great place it is today, and the effects of their legacy shall stretch through the years to come and into the far future. Such great women deserve a place in the story of history.