Friends, family gather for ISU Memorial Day service

James Heggen

A day of remembrance.

About 80 people gathered in the Reiman Ballroom of the ISU Alumni Center to remember friends and family lost in the past year as Iowa State held its annual Memorial Day service for faculty and staff.

Pamela Williams, chairwoman of the ISU Retirees Association, and Roger Murphy, co-chairman, led the ceremony as they read more than 40 memorials submitted on behalf of many of the deceased. In addition to the submitted written memorials, some in the audience volunteered to share memories on behalf of their friends and relatives being honored at the ceremony.

Among those being remembered was Lois Tiffany, who spent half a century working as a professor for the university. And, when including her time as a student at Iowa State — she earned three degrees — and her time spent helping out the department after her retirement, Williams said Tiffany spent more than 60 years at Iowa State.

“Few people can say that their entire career was spent at one place of employment,” she said. “Fewer still can say they worked at their job for more than 50 years.”

Tiffany was a professor and expert of mushrooms in the botany and plant pathology department, which later became the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology. 

Known throughout Iowa, and referred to as the “mushroom lady,” many people would come to Tiffany’s home with different mushroom specimens for her to look at, Williams said.

She joined the botany department in 1950, when only three other woman were teaching in the sciences at Iowa State.

“You know, Dr. T always had her nose to the ground, and she had a way of getting her students’ noses in the ground looking for those fungal specimens that always seem to lurk mysteriously in nooks and crannies,” Williams said as she read from information submitted from those who knew Tiffany.

Also remembered was Barry Larkin, former music professor that died unexpectedly last summer. Larkin taught percussion and helped with the drum line of the marching band, but also performed outside of Iowa State, including being the principal percussionist in the Des Moines Symphony.

Larkin “found a percussive aspect in everything in life,” Murphy said. “He regularly tapped out rhythms on tables, on drums, on break drums, on water bottles, anything that was available to make sound, he would beat on.”

Nearly 100 people were honored at Monday’s ceremony.