FAIRBANKS (AP) Darrellene Myers has retired after almost 35 years of drafting letters, taking calls, making appointments, arranging travel and keeping files for University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton, and nine of his predecessors.
Few university employees have worked so closely with so many powerful people in the university system. There have been 131 members of the UA Board of Regents, and Myers has dealt with 82 of them.
Friends and colleagues say Myers has been the oil that has kept the University of Alaska running.
''Every letter that went out, every speech that was written, every major decision, she made better,'' wrote one former UA president, Jerome Komisar.
Myers was raised in Oregon, the only daughter of a fruit broker father and homemaker mother. She married an architect and followed him to Alaska in 1968.
Myers was first hired by the university as secretary for the vice president of academic affairs. She went to the university president's office after then-President William R. Wood's longtime confidential secretary retired.
She says flexibility on her part and the excitement of working at an ever-evolving institution is why she never left.
''One of the reasons it was so interesting is because every five or six or seven years it was a whole new regime; a whole new vision and agenda and personality. It was like a new job,'' Myers said.
The secret to her staying power was two things: She kept a low profile. She kept her mouth shut.
''Just because I worked for the president doesn't mean I was going to run up and down the halls and say, 'If you don't do this, the president is going to be mad.'''
Myers is widely known for her discretion. Friends at her retirement party on Friday complained about her penchant for being tightlipped.
''I have been trying to get gossip out of her for 34 years,'' said Ann Tremarello, retired University of Alaska Fairbanks registrar.
Hamilton, a former two-star Army general, choked back tears as he spoke about Myers at the party and presented her a special medal of achievement.
''She really has been a counselor for 10 presidents,'' he said.
Myers said she has no immediate plans except to spend more time with her German shepherd, Golly, and to play the piano.
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