This summer, Pacific University suffered a great loss with the passing of the wonderful Eva Krebs. You’ve probably already heard this. I want you to know that it’s true, but more importantly why it is true. The Index itself, as well as other university publications can attest to her brilliance and her legacy. However, the reason I mourn the late Eva Krebs is not because of what she was able to do, or what she could have done; what I will miss most is her person.
That probably doesn’t make much sense, grammatically or otherwise. But what I am trying to describe when I say her “person” is hard to put into words. It is the way she carried herself with professionalism. It is the way she cared about her students. It is her ability to listen. It is her soft voice and her strong spirit.
All these things make up what I will remember as Eva Krebs. She was, for me, not only a mentor but a role model; someone I could learn from by not only listening to her advice, but through observing her actions as well.
My favorite memory of Eva probably wasn’t something I think she’d like to remember, but I recall it vividly because of how much I admired her strength of character. It was the moment that she truly became a role model in my mind.
We were sitting around a long table, discussing an uncomfortable topic—something she never shied away from. The discussion escalated quickly and suddenly she was faced with belligerent swearing from a person seated opposite her at the table.
She didn’t flinch. She waited patiently and calmly for the anger to subside before she could present a rational explanation in return, and when she was interrupted, she again waited for her turn to speak. When she was finally able to rationalize the situation, she did so elegantly and calmly, expressly considerate of all those seated around the table. She made sure to address all the comments that were made, even the heated accusations, in a manner that was fair to all parties, while at the same time realistic in terms of scope.
The situation was so beautifully handled that I momentarily forgot what the issue was at hand and literally stared in awe at this woman, who seemed to possess the capacity to defuse a nuclear bomb with her calm, collected reasoning alone. The problem at hand wasn’t solved and to this day remains something that I continuously work on, but her treatment of it and her advice was instrumental in moving it towards an eventual solution. Not only that, but she provided a stark contrast for all those in the room by demonstrating the performance of a true leader in times of duress when faced with a frustrating opponent.
It is this level of professionalism that I strive to meet every day. For the record, I don’t even come close.
Eva Krebs was a woman who truly cared about the students of Pacific University and assured us, through her person, the capacity of the human spirit. That was, I think, her true legacy. She taught us to respect each other, to be patient and to provide support to those who need it – and to do those things as mature adults. If she could do all of that, while fighting cancer and serving as the vice president of a university, we can surely try.