By Ben Horlacher
YELLOW SPRINGS, Ohio, Dec. 5 — Elaine Comegys, former Co-op faculty and Associate Dean of Students, passed away in her sleep on the night of Thursday, Nov. 22.
Comegys’ time at Antioch began in the mid 1970s as a member of the Co-op faculty, she then later became the Associate Dean of Faculty. During her tenure at Antioch Comegys’ touched many hearts, in the words of Steven Duffy, “she was a good friend and a great human, you could talk to her about the worst of things and she still could get you to laugh and see the ridiculous things even in the worst moments.”
To many students she was more then just a faculty member; she was a friend and a confidante, “she was on the side of the person in all of us that wanted to be heard, wanted to scream sometimes and wanted to know that someone was there when you needed to talk,” said Mark Swanholm, who Comegys, characteristically, went out of her way to help. “She was there to help sort out the bad Antioch insurance when my wife was in the hospital in serious condition,” stated Swanholm.
For Judith Wolert-Maldonado she was there to help with sensitive issues. “As I struggled […] through my own identity politics, coming out of the closet, she opened her heart to me and became an emotional advisor to me, at a time when my own parents couldn’t talk to me because of their extreme homophobia,” said Wolert-Maldonado, “Elaine was one of the first ‘adults’ I met then, who taught me that I could find allies and a compassionate and progressive community beyond my peers of that time.”
In the turbulent atmosphere that often envelops Antioch Comegys was a moderating influence. “[She was] not given over to taking ‘sides’ between the administration and students,” remembered Swanholm. “She went to bat for me when I raged against [Al] Guskin – and she took me to task when I was acting like a self-brat.” However, this does not mean Swanholm’s memories of her are any less fond, “she was one of my Antioch heroes,” Swanholm stated.
Even after here retirement Comegys remained a town presence, “she was a frequent bench sitter in downtown Yellow Springs in the later years,” Recounted Athena Turner-Frederick. “You could depend on her smile and her wonderful laugh and hug.”
Some alumni are considering creating a scholarship in Comgeys’ honor, although according to Risa Grimes, Head of Development, “nothing is official yet.”
Elaine Comegys passing away represents a great loss for the many Antiochians who’s lives she touched deeply. And in a time where the lines are drawn between students, staff, faculty, administration, alumni, and trustees, Antioch has lost someone who, in the words of Swanholm, “always saw you as a person when you passed her in the halls of Main building.” Although to many, such as Turner-Frederick, her loss will be felt in smaller but equally significant ways, “her hugs are what I am going to miss [most of all].”
A memorial for Elaine Comegys will be held on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 2:00 p.m., in the Glen Helen Building.