In Memoriam

John Stokes
John Stokes

John Stokes, 64, former director of operations and staunch advocate of the Middlebury Language Schools, died on August 6. A graduate of the Kathryn Wasserman Davis School of Russian, Stokes was associated with the Language Schools in various capacities for over 40 years.    

Stokes graduated from the Davis School of Russian in 1983, eventually becoming coordinator of the school from 2005 to 2012. He was named director of operations in 2012 and remained in that position until he retired earlier this year. He also served as interim coordinator of the Arabic School in 2008.

“John’s calm and unflappable presence will be sorely missed by everyone in the Language Schools family,” said Wendy Butler, assistant director, School of Japanese and School of Korean. “He relished a challenge, physically and mentally. Whether he was attacking the obstacle course at Shale Hill, or sorting out complex operational puzzles for the Language Schools, his determination was relentless. His positive attitude was an inspiration.”

Stokes played a central role each summer in designing and implementing plans for student housing, classrooms, orientation, arrival schedules, and programs. “He was a constant, calming presence who did his work across campus with care, professionalism, and compassion,” said Steve Snyder, dean of Language Schools and vice president for academic affairs. “All of us are heartbroken.”

Snyder recognized Stokes for his lifelong contributions to the Language Schools at this summer’s Convocation. 

Stokes, whose wife, Lynne, is a former Dining Services employee, earned a BA in English from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2002 and also studied Central Asian Studies at Indiana University. Colleagues said he was particularly proud of his service in the U.S. military, and those experiences informed his work at Middlebury.   

“I always appreciated John’s love for his family. It was not uncommon for John to have a grandchild on his lap during a meeting. He remained upbeat and positive during difficult times during his treatment, and he kept the Language Schools team moving forward during our own challenges. His straightforwardness and witty comments will be remembered, along with his love for the Language Schools,” said Molly Baker, associate dean of admissions for the Language Schools.

Snyder noted, “John was a wonderful friend and colleague to all of us in the Language Schools. We are deeply grateful for his service and his friendship, and we will miss him.”