Patricia Telles-Irvin would remember small details that would seem inconsequential to other people.
David Bowles, interim vice president and operating officer for UF student affairs, remembered going to a social Telles-Irvin and her husband were hosting. Bowles was one of the only people drinking beer while everyone else was drinking wine.
Every time Bowles attended an event she hosted, Telles-Irvin would always offer him a beer when he came in.
Telles-Irvin was known as a hardworking and dedicated leader who was active in the community. She died at age 63 on June 3, after a battle with cancer. She is survived by her husband, Don Irvin, and son, Daniel Irvin.
Bowles started a new position in student affairs the same day as Telles-Irvin, who worked as UF’s vice president for student affairs from 2004 to 2011.
He remembers the first time they met sitting in on her job interview. New to student affairs, Bowles stayed silent while the other interviewers asked her questions. Telles-Irvin noticed his silence. She glanced at him and asked if there was anything he wanted to know.
“From day one, she wanted to be engaged with all of the directors,” Bowles said. “She regularly met with all of the directors of the larger departments, even though she had been advised not to because it would take too much time.”
During her time with the university, Telles-Irvin was known for being the co-founder of Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars (MFOS), a scholarship program created in 2005 to support first-generation college students.
When she met with students, she never forgot about them. Even after the meeting was over, she always wanted to hear how they were doing, Bowles said.
“If she ever saw people she had met with previously, she would always check in and see how they were doing,” Bowles said. “And if she had any questions after the meeting she would send an email follow-up.”
Mary Kay Carodine, assistant vice president of UF student affairs, remembers the enthusiasm Telles-Irvin brought to work with her.
She recalls the dedication Telles-Irvin had in eliminating financial boundaries that made it difficult for some students to go to UF. It was this passion that fueled Telles-Irvin to help create the MFOS program.
“She always had a twinkle in her eye,” said Carodine. “She believed in humanity and always helping people do the best they could.”
After leaving UF, Telles-Irvin accepted a position as vice president of student affairs at Northwestern University in Illinois.
Bethany Koch, a UF alumna who graduated in 2011, said she would not have been able to graduate without MFOS and the opportunities the program provided her.
“It’s such a powerful program,” Koch said, “I can’t say enough about it. It really shaped who I am. I don’t know where I would be without it.”
Daniel Irvin, Telles-Irvin’s 23-year-old son, remembers his mother as a beautiful woman who was like a beacon of light for those around her.
He said she was a loving wife and mother. She and her husband had just celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary. She is remembered as a wonderful cook who enjoyed watching “Matlock,” a tradition she began with her father.
“The biggest lesson I learned from her was to always be honest with people,” Irvin said, “When you’re honest and forthcoming with people, the best will happen. Whether it’s immediate or not, it’s going to happen.”
A memorial for Telles-Irvin will be held on Friday on Northwestern’s campus. Irvin said the ceremony is expected to be large with about 800 attendees.
“It really shows how much she impacted the lives of so many people around her,” Irvin said.