To many of her colleagues, Patricia “Pat” Williams was known as an employee who made the history department run like clockwork.
Gregory Urwin, however, will also remember her character outside of work on the ninth floor of Gladfelter Hall.
“A week did not pass without her asking me how my wife, a cancer survivor, was doing,” Urwin, a military history professor, said in an email Monday night. “She also took a keen interest in my son, a former Temple student who became a professional ballet dancer, and my son’s new wife. Stopping at Pat’s office always put a little extra warmth in my day.”
A university spokesman confirmed to The Temple News Monday afternoon that Williams, 64, was found dead on the ninth floor of Gladfelter Hall Monday morning. The spokesman added Williams was an administrative coordinator for the department.
Jay Lockenour, chair of the history department, said he’ll remember Williams for her dedication to her work.
“She was the center of the department,” Lockenour said late Monday afternoon. “She made sure everything ran smoothly.”
Lockenour, whose office is located in Room 909 of Gladfelter, said fellow faculty members found Williams in an office down the hall early Monday morning. He added he “went into emergency crisis mode … and had to comfort people who found the body.”
“She had a long history of health problems,” he said about why Williams died. “Because of that, while this is a shock, it’s maybe not completely surprising.”
Lockenour said Williams completed duties similar to that of a secretary, and started working at Temple in 1968 in the urban studies department.
Urwin said without her contributions, many problems might not have been resolved as smoothly.
“Because Temple is such a big institution, lots of things can go wrong,” he said. “Whenever there was a malfunction, I knew I could always go to Pat for a solution … Whoever replaces her will have big shoes to fill, and we are going to have to be patient while that person grows into the job.”
Williams’ death forced classes on the floor to be canceled and relocated for the day, security officials said. Students said there was confusion as police and university officials investigated the scene.
“It was confusing because they didn’t tell us what was going on,” said Kaicey Baylor, a freshman journalism major. “I was walking to class and the security guard asked me if I was on the ninth floor and I said, ‘Yeah,’ and he told me it was moved to Anderson … It was confusing because they were really secretive.”
David Hazel, a junior history major, said he had a 10 a.m. class scheduled in Room 913 Monday morning. After learning from security about the news, he learned via email his class had been moved to Anderson 421.
Hazel said he initially thought the problem might be a pipe burst or another maintenance issue.
“It was quite shocking,” he said about learning of Williams’ death. “I mean, the ninth floor is the history department. And me being a history major, that could have been a potential professor or department chair.”
Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone said the city’s Medical Examiner’s Office is still investigating Williams’ cause of death. As of Monday night, nothing has appeared suspicious, he added.
“Unfortunately a full examination takes a bit of time, but we might get an initial ruling in a couple of days,” Leone said.
Steve Bohnel and Julie Christie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TheTempleNews.