OBITUARY

Doreen Elliott

May 3, 1941July 31, 2018
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We can remember Doreen’s strength of character in so many important ways. She was a brilliant academic who made her mark many times over in International Social Work, never afraid to challenge the status quo, prepared to fight against social injustice wherever it occurred. Her list of academic accomplishments is long and she will be remembered for her considerable achievements. Doreen will be missed by the host of doctoral students whom she mentored and nurtured to success for over 30 years. She cared deeply about their future pushing and fighting for them to achieve with a firm but graciously kind hand. Her home was often their home. Doreen fought for and championed the rights of faculty. She was never afraid to assert her point of view with administrators, in committees, faculty meetings, or with colleagues that often made hairs ‘stand straight’. Make no mistake, she had no fear and was a voice of reason and balance that continue to be a model for all women.

Aside from her professional life, Doreen was also an important member of the Elliott family to whom she was a kind and thoughtful sister, aunt and great-aunt. The fact that she was separated by many miles and time-zones never got in her way and her family is very grateful to her for that. She also had the gift of maintaining active friendships made during her early life in the UK. Most of all, Doreen was a compassionate woman caring deeply for her life partner Nazneen Mayadas and their canine companions Clarence and then Jeremy. Together both made a superb team who always had their doors and hearts open to their friends, colleagues, and Texas family. Of anyone, Doreen knew how to throw a party, with lots of wine, spirits, and Indian food. So many good get togethers over the years, lots of laughs and friendship. The best of times.

Nazneen Sada Mayadas and Doreen Elliott Graduate Fellowship In lieu of flowers, the family invites you to consider a gift in memory of Doreen by supporting the Nazneen Sada Mayadas and Doreen Elliott Graduate Fellowship at The University of Texas at Arlington. All gifts received for the Graduate Fellowship will be placed in a permanent endowment and leave a lasting legacy, impacting generations of social work graduate students in perpetuity. Students pursuing research in international social work, social work and human migration, social group work, clinical social work and communication skills, and clinical social work and diversity are eligible for this fellowship. You are invited to make a gift to the Fellowship now and double your gift through the match of UTA alumni, Dr. Uma A. Segal (MSSW, 1975) & Dr. Madhav N. Segal (MBA, 1975; Ph.D. 1979) of St. Louis, Missouri. They have stepped forward to encourage your gift and committed $25,000 in matching funds. Gifts can be made online with your credit card at the following link: https://giving.uta.edu/mayadas-elliott-fellowship

You can also make your gift with a check made payable and mailed to: University of Texas at Arlington PO Box 19198 Arlington, TX 76019 making it clear that it is a donation to the Mayadas Elliott Graduate Fellowship

The following is a tribute written by a dear friend, Maria Copson-Niecko

This is the story of a 58-year friendship that began with a mystery. Doreen and I first met as undergraduates in the History Department of London University’s Queen Mary College (QMC). She could never satisfactorily explain why somebody who had excelled in the sciences at Heywood Grammar School in Lancashire and loved everything mechanical ended up at the age of 19 reading History and specializing in the French Revolution of 1789. It soon became apparent that this was not a subject that aroused Doreen’s passions. But with dogged determination she persisted through a B.A. with Honours and a postgraduate Diploma in Education at Hull University that allowed her to teach History at Stamford High School for girls.

After a few years Doreen abandoned History for a post in Bath counselling disturbed adolescents, commonly known in those days as “juvenile delinquents.” This was her entrance into social work and education leading to Headship of the School and a postgraduate Diploma in the ‘Educational Rehabilitation of Young People’ from the University of London’s Institute of Education. It was followed in 1975 by a faculty position with the University of Wales in Cardiff and a Doctorate in Social Work.

Doreen’s life was split between the Old and New Worlds with the first formative 47 years in England and Wales and the last 30 in Texas. Despite her later academic interest in immigrants and refugees she was neither. She was a member of the twentieth-century English-speaking intelligentsia that moved easily from one academic culture to another. While never entirely rooted in America and while retaining British citizenship, Doreen forged a distinguished career in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington from 1988 to her retirement in 2013. And at the same time she created a life happily lived with Nazneen Mayadas at her side.

Publish or perish was never a problem for Doreen. Once she had established that her vocation lay in international social work education and scholarship her productivity was formidable. It covered global social work, social work education, research and scholarship, mentoring of students, and service to the profession. Eleven books, 35 book chapters, 43 journal articles and book reviews, numerous teaching and professional awards were just the tip of the iceberg.

Doreen was a World War II child who knew the hardships of the early post-war years. But she was fortunate enough to belong to the first generation of bright British daughters who went in any significant numbers to Grammar School and University and were not destined from birth to grave for a lifetime of domesticity. Her character was also moulded by the proverbial grit and hardiness of Northern Englanders and the Gaelic blood inherited from a mother who came from the Isle of Man -- a speck in the middle of the Irish Sea.

Doreen’s virtues were legendary. She was a sociable, warm, gentle, compassionate, considerate, dependable, generous, loyal, honorable and self-effacing woman who strove to see the best in all God’s creatures. Unlike most mortals she was never guilty of gossip, pettiness, temper tantrums or intemperate language. In the English way she was ultra polite, proper and apologetic -- perhaps almost excessively so. At the same time Doreen was an intensely private and stubbornly independent person in control of her feelings and destiny. And although ‘I’m easy’ was a favorite response when a decision was needed among friends, there was always a hint of iron lurking close by.

This metallic streak was eventually polished to a visible sheen and perfected under Nazneen’s no-nonsense guidance. Doreen was fierce in defense of all that is good in the world and scathing in the face of injustice and evil.

Doreen’s many friends and former colleagues from all phases of her life and career in the UK are holding her in their thoughts today. But it was in the years from 1960 to 1963 that Doreen formed deep and life-long bonds with a small group of QMC undergraduates in the Arts. They all contributed to this celebration of her life and are here with us in spirit. I therefore also speak on behalf of Joyce Abbatt and Judy Robinson in England and Pat Whiley in Wales.

Although not especially fond of physical exertion, Doreen enjoyed rowing in the QMC Fours on the River Thames. She was, however, mechanically- and speed-minded. We zoomed along the highways and byways in all directions in rain and sunshine on ‘Bloody Mary,’ our red Vespa scooter, with a spill or two and bruises along the way. Doreen was in her element a few years later when she put her foot to the pedal of racing cars and hurtled round a race track. She was fearless enough to dream of entering the male-dominated profession of speed trials and Formula One Racing with the likes of Stirling Moss. But a goodly dose of common sense prevailed.

In 1962 Doreen and three friends bought a sedate 1946 Hillman Minx for 10 pounds sterling each. The car had long since seen better days and was affectionately christened ‘Effie.’ It went on a successful trial run Easter week around the Lake District in Cumbria. Its mission in August, recorded by the Heywood and Leicester press, was overland and ferry from ‘London to Athens’ and back. This optimistic declaration of intent was painted in large white letters on the back of the black car – probably in the hope that people would be sympathetic and helpful when we broke down. And almost always they were. All four owners had summer jobs to pay for this trip and Doreen worked in the Heywood Petrol Station. The car was packed to the brim with sleeping bags and canned spam and sardines in oil and tomato sauce -- which soon dissolved into a repulsive mush in the boiling sun.

Doreen was the star of this expedition. She was chief navigator and kept the old jalopy and its crew on the road and beaten tracks every day for well over 5,000 miles in rugged and mountainous terrain and constant heat sometimes exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit. She diagnosed Effie’s illnesses and oversaw repairs of mechanical faults and breakdowns. Somehow she managed to convey what was needed to over- eager young men in the Balkans who understood no English and surrounded the car everywhere it stopped. And those needs included the re-lining of brakes, repair of punctures at regular intervals, purchase and installation of a new half shaft at the foot of the Acropolis, a new tire in Yugoslavia, tweaking of the ignition, and endless stops when the radiator boiled over.

The 25-day journey of impecunious students began with barely enough money to pay for car repairs. It ended with pennies, a diet of bananas and the sale of Effie in the UK for nine pounds.

The first stop after London, Dover and Calais was Amiens where Doreen spent quiet minutes of reflection on ‘The War to End All Wars’ in which her father had been wounded. Sleeping in cheap, flea- and mosquito-ridden camp sites, ancient school dormitories and seedy youth hostels along the way, we soon learned to navigate cockroach-infested holes in the ground serving as latrines. We passed through the wealthy playgrounds of the French Riviera and the wondrous historic sites of ancient Italy and Greece -- Pisa, Rimini, Delphi, Corinth, Mycenae, Athens and Thessalonika. From there we went North into what was still a grim Yugoslavia through Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia to the forbidding Loibl Pass into Austria.

At almost four and a half thousand feet above the Adriatic, the Pass is the steepest in Europe with hairpin bends most of the way up. At this juncture, the car had been overheating all day and everybody was in somber mood after seeing the morning before a stark Memorial Cross marking the infamous Croatian extermination camp in Jasenovac. Serbs, Jews, Gypsies and political dissidents had been barbarically tortured and murdered there by Ustaše Fascists between 1941 and 1945. While the rest of us hesitated, it was courageous, modest Doreen who voluntarily drove that old car alone over the Loibl Pass leaving us somewhat sheepishly to walk to the top and out of No Man’s Land.

Doreen’s sense of humour might have faltered on occasion but did not fail even when Final Exams approached in the summer of 1963. The active social rounds and daily interruptions of QMC’s Lynden Hall of Residence were left to devote more time to swotting. She joined me at the top of the large, gloomy Victorian house of the Reverend Bottoms, editor of The Baptist Times. His very name, the pervasive aura of genteel poverty, his ice-cold study where telephone calls had to be taken, the constant supply of one shilling coins needed to keep the electric fire going in our rooms, and the formal family lunches and stilted conversation endured every Sunday might well have come straight out of a Charles Dickens novel. Upon emerging from these dreaded Sunday sessions Doreen would sigh with relief and thank the Lord nobody had tried to convert two heathens. She was not a devout or duty-bound Christian at that time and perhaps edged more towards agnosticism but she was definitely not a pagan either.

Following the bards of yore we will be reciting anecdotes about Doreen’s youthful years in the United Kingdom to the end of our days. Of her time in Texas we will marvel at the depth and breadth of her academic accomplishments, her international standing and her influence that will pass from present to future generations in the world of social work. And in summation we will say that like Nazneen who died before her, Doreen met long, gruelling illness with dignity and stoicism but refused to “go gentle into that good night.” She touched not only hearts and souls but also minds. Their lives individually and jointly were a gift to us all and will not disappear with death.

Services

  • Celebration of Life

    Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Memories

Doreen Elliott

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Douglas Wetzig

September 30, 2018

She was one of my MSSW professors in 2000. She told me she "had leukemia and who-hoo death is looming". I looked at her and said: "We're both going to have to be here awhile, like it or not." Wow-did she make it a long way! Something told me to look for you today. Kudos on a life well lived Dr. Elliott.

Sabina Bunic

September 28, 2018

I did not know her personally but she has supported a fundraiser for Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria Relief efforts last year. I started a fundraiser to help people after Hurricane and her donation has made a huge impact on number of families, close to 30 families. Her donation was anonymous, but the friends who told her about the fundraiser are my good friends. I am very saddened to hear that she has passed away. The Universe has lost a kind soul! Rest In Peace Doreen.

Maria Copson-Niecko

August 17, 2018

Doreen and Maria with their Parents

Maria Copson-Niecko

August 17, 2018

Doreen and Maria, QMC Boathouse, 1961

Maria Copson-Niecko

August 17, 2018

Doreen in Bloody Mary Gear on Isle of Sheppey, February 1962

Maria Copson-Niecko

August 17, 2018

Doreen and Maria on Bloody Mary, February 1962

Maria Copson-Niecko

August 17, 2018

Doreen and Gang Relaxing in Greece, August 1962

Maria Copson-Niecko

August 17, 2018

Doreen, Maria, Judy and Joyce with Effie, August 1962

Maria Copson-Niecko

August 17, 2018

Doreen and Maria, August 1962, in Leicester, heading for Athens (with Joyce and Judy).

Jennifer Steele

August 9, 2018

Image by my daughter Vivian. Presented to Doreen last summer. depicts her and Nazneen. As Vivian has said - Doreen was always very thoughtful about gifts - always picked just the right one.

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