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The search for Brittingham’s replacement, however, has taken longer than expected. Vacations to her cottage in Maine, her commitment to Christ Church in Oberlin, and her rabid devotion to Cleveland Indians baseball and Cleveland Force soccer will all have to wait until her successor is in place this fall or winter. The “mother of all Oberlin alumni”—as Alumni Association President Clyde Owan ’79 referred to her recently—is still needed by her Oberlin family.

“A devoted, tireless, and wise promoter of all things Oberlin, Midge is the best friend the Oberlin community will ever have,” Owan remarked during reunion weekend’s alumni luncheon in Wilder Bowl. “She has had a monumental impact on the operations of this institution and on the character of the Alumni Association.”

Don’t let her short stature or impish grin fool you. This woman is sharp, and she’s not afraid of hard work. “One erroneously could see her as a little old lady bird-watcher wearing tennis shoes,” says Dale Preston ’83, former director of regional alumni activities, who says that Brittingham’s work ethic outpaced his own and that her knowledge of alumni left his computer database in the dust.

“She’s a leader through listening and patience,” he says. “A real innovator and powerhouse, yet self-effacing and modest, Midge never spoke of her own accomplishments. It wasn’t until I attended national conferences for alumni professionals that I learned how much she’s impacted the field.”

Catalyst, Activist, Confidante, and Friend
By Clyde Owan ’79
President, Oberlin Alumni Association

Midge Wood Brittingham’s contributions to the Oberlin community are unrivaled. She has created enduring partnerships that have strengthened the learning experience both on and off campus. She has inspired alumni of all generations to make a lifelong commitment to Oberlin, and she has transformed the Association into an organization that is inclusive and a patron of social causes.

The ultimate “insider,” Midge has yet to miss an Alumni Council meeting or reunion activity, despite the occasional broken bone, surgery, aching joints, and jet lag. If the venture has had anything to do with Oberlin, she has been there; her energy is boundless. Her longevity at Oberlin reflects the perfect marriage of a life’s passion and career.

Midge has been a catalyst, activist, confidante, and friend. She is a sports fanatic, but she usually picks losing teams. She is an opinionated idealist. She is extraordinarily generous and a source of comfort. She is well-read and always up on the arts. In impact and example, Midge is surely among the most illustrious figures in Oberlin history.
We in the Alumni Association are grateful for all she has done for Oberlin and for us. We will regard her always with warmth and respect.


One prominent example was the creation of the Alumni Council in the early 1980s. The previous board had existed as a small group of elected and appointed alumni. Interested in involving far more grads, Brittingham and the late Clayton Miller ’30, Association treasurer at the time, proposed a new structure after visiting other colleges to see what worked.

The result was a revision to the Association’s constitution that established the current Alumni Council: a group of 300 alums composed of class presidents, class agents, regional coordinators, and members of various committees. Bob Plows ’69, Association president in 1983, recalls that Midge, in her quiet, determined way, “was the catalyst, providing just the right chemistry to allow us to develop the new system. What’s more, she has continued over two decades to foster the right chemistry for the Council to adapt to the changing needs of diverse, engaged alumni.”

Margaret Sahs Erikson ’62, director of alumni on-campus activities, says that Brittingham “has instilled a sense of loyalty and service in the alumni body that is the envy of alumni offices around the country. She will be missed by our alumni.”

In the immediate aftermath of the September 11 tragedies, it was Brittingham who quickly sent e-mail to 1,700 alums in New York and D.C., asking if they were safe. She received 1,200 responses and soon instigated production of a booklet containing the harrowing stories of those closest to the terrorist attacks. The booklet was seen by many as an example of the Oberlin family—Mother Midge at the helm—showing its concern in a time of crisis.

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