Distinctly Candida

If you are currently a Dominican University student like myself, you probably never had the opportunity to meet Sister Candida Lund, who served as the school’s President from 1964-1981 and Chancellor, 1981 until her death in 2000.

Up in the archives I’ve spent the last severalmonths going through boxes associated with 4083.8 (Presidents: S. Candida Lund). I emphasize the word “several” because her collection is extensive. Sister Candida wrote and wrote and wrote and saved everything–not to mention the papers from all the awards, boards, and clubs she was associated with. The experience of being submersed in her collection has given me a deep appreciation for Sister Candida, to the point that I feel as if I had actually known her, despite the fact we had never met.

One of my favorite parts of her collection was going through the endless thank you letters she wrote.  It didn’t matter if you’d donated thousands of dollars to the college or if you opened her car door–an thank you card would be on its way within days with a unique and well transcribed sincerity.  This prime example, a letter to The Honorable Susan Getzendanner (August 19, 1987) was the only text on the paper:

Whatever you do, you’ll do it with wonderful panache and smashingly well.
Fondly,
Sister Candida Lund

Sister Candida was a woman–in the boldest and truest sense of the word.  She was graceful, charming, humble, sincere, well educated, daring, and funny.  She demanded a presence by simply entering a room, and she captivated you the moment conversation began. In looking at pictures of her, I found that Candida could be surrounded by dignified and powerful individuals, but my eyes cannot help but be drawn to her signature smile. Aside from watching her clothing alter from the full habit to (continually stately) every-day attire, I was also fascinated by her eyeglasses. Sister Candida always wore large eyeglasses–another statement that was distinctly Candida. Throughout the years they too continually changed; but their size never decreased and they were always fashionably ahead of their time. Being one that supports they belief that the right glasses add an intellectual sense of fashion, I have loved watching her frames change in each image I uncover–but each new pair also remains unmistakably Candida.

Champion of the arts, faithful friend, advocate of women’s rights, scholar, and leader: Sister Candida Lund.

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2 thoughts on “Distinctly Candida”

  1. I was S. Candida’s executive secretary in 1978-79. She wasn’t just a woman, she was a force. She entertained everyone — businessmen, book publishers, celebrities, educators, intellectuals — in grand style and with unmistakable panache. I have always felt fortunate to have worked so closely with her, even for such a short time.

  2. Sister Candida was my Great Aunt. I spent a lot of time with her growing up and everything you have both said is so true. I miss her so much. She took my sister and I on “expeditions” to Chicago and introduced us to a wonderful cultural world we may never have know or appreciated without her. John Kathe, I wish I had had the opportunity you did, to pour over her writings. What an incredible thing that must have been.

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