In Memoriam: Mona Meyers Wheatley ’56
Vice President for Human Resources Caitlin Goss sent the following message to the Middlebury community on January 4.
Dear Faculty and Staff,
Sadly, I must report that Mona Meyers Wheatley, 87, an alumna of the Class of 1956, died on November 27, 2021, in Dallas, Texas, surrounded by loved ones. Mona was a dedicated and active part of the Middlebury community for decades, working as both a volunteer and as an employee.
While staying in touch with her alma mater from the time of graduation, Mona became more involved in 1977 when she volunteered to run the Boston phonathon for the College. Over the next few years, she helped add Denver, San Francisco, and New York City to the phonathon circuit and served as the national chair.
Recognizing her talents, Middlebury hired Mona in 1980 as the director of Annual Funds. In her first year, she and her small staff increased alumni participation to 50 percent and raised a million dollars, a new record at that time. She continued successfully in that position until 1989, when she became the director of Special Gifts, where she helped found the Gamaliel Painter Cane Society. In 1995 she was named a senior development officer, and in 1997 she was made director of Bicentennial Planning in anticipation of the 200th anniversary of the College in 2000. In this position, she supervised approximately 100 volunteers and planned 14 months of celebration. Longtime friend Ann Einsiedler Crumb ’71, retired associate vice president of Advancement, says, “Mona planned and organized a series of events that reflected Middlebury’s history and highlighted current students, faculty, alumni, and friends.” The Middlebury Campus announced that the final celebration in early November 2000 was “deemed a success by the College and the community.” Mona herself said planning the Bicentennial was a “labor of love,” and she hoped the outcome would “help people realize what a special place this is.”
Besides being a hard worker, Mona was a beloved colleague. Another longtime friend, Amy Hastings, who worked in the Development Office from 1984 to 1992, says, “One of the first things I noticed in Mona’s office when I arrived at the College was a sign on her desk that read ‘Director of Annual Fun.’ Mona was fun, and she made working with her fun, too, for all of us who then shared the offices on the first floor of Forest Hall. We were a close-knit group—Development and Alumni Offices together—and Mona was central to whatever happened there. Her dedication to her work and her love for Middlebury permeated everything she did. She was a faithful friend to her colleagues and a mentor and model for alumni and students alike.” Ann Crumb adds, “Mona was always on the go, fitting in one more alumnus visit or call, but she made time for fun, too. During an early trip I took with her to California, she learned it was my first trip to the West Coast and promptly insisted we drive to the beach so that I could stick my toe in the very cold winter Pacific Ocean.”
Mona was born on August 17, 1934, and grew up in Pepper Pike, Ohio, a rural town she always said was a great place to grow up. In high school, she attended Hathaway Brown in Shaker Heights, Ohio, before matriculating at Middlebury, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. In 1971, she earned an MEd from Boston University and worked for many years as a teacher of children with special needs in Bedford, Mass., before moving to Middlebury.
From the beginning of her time at Middlebury, Mona was a role model for women at the College and a mentor to many. Meghan Foley Williamson ’77, executive director, campaign, and liaison, Davis UWC Scholars Program, says, “Mona will forever live vibrantly in my memory as the person who gave me my start in fundraising at Middlebury, and whose example was one of joy and true pleasure in establishing relationships with people. She hired me as a temp student worker to help with year-end mailings and Reunion! I have since had the privilege of learning much more about philanthropy and donor relations, benefitting tremendously from Mona’s initial guidance. I am so very glad I had the opportunity to meet and work with her.” In 1999, the Vermont Women in Higher Education, an organization Mona had long been involved in, awarded her the Sister Elizabeth Candon Distinguished Service Award for her promotion of advancement of women in higher education and administration, and her involvement in community service.
Mona’s love of the College and Middlebury community extended to her free time as well. She was involved in volunteer activities for her class. She was a member of the Friends of the Art Museum and Friends of the Library, as well as a patron of the Concert Series performances at the Arts Center. She also established the Ann and Edward Meyers Religion Prize, given annually in memory of her parents. She was an active member of many local organizations, especially the Rotary and the United Way, and was a founding member of Otter Creek Day Care. For her many contributions to Middlebury, the College bestowed the 2001 Alumni Plaque Award on Mona.
Retiring in 2001, Mona volunteered for several years at the Museum of Art and served on the Middlebury College Alumni Association board, including two years as president. She moved to Nantucket, Mass., where she worked in an antiques shop and became involved in the community.
Mona was loved and appreciated by many. Hugh Marlow and his family arrived in Middlebury the same year as Mona when he was hired as the director of Alumni Relations. Mona was chosen family for the Marlows. Hugh writes, “Our daughter Laura was smart enough to be adopted by Mona whenever we had to be gone. The fact that Mona had a jacuzzi and a waterbed might have also been an attraction. She was special and a great friend.”
Mona is survived by children John Wheatley and his wife, Karen; Linda Wheatley; and Allison Wheatley Bovard ’84 and her husband, Chris; grandchildren Kelly Steffen, Nipa Wheatley, Christian Lyman and his wife, Stephanie, Caroline Wheatley, and Charlie, Sam, and Jack Bovard; and ex-husband Jack Wheatley ’56.
Donations may be made in Mona’s memory to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Nantucket, Mass.; the Town Hall Theater, Middlebury, Vt.; Vermont Women in Higher Education, Burlington, Vt.; the Nantucket Historical Association, Nantucket, Mass.; or to a charity of your choice. The family is planning a memorial service for next July in Nantucket, Mass.
Vice President for Human Resources & Chief People Officer