Born in Pennsylvania on April 14, 1919, Florence Pauline Sells grew up there and in Duluth, Minnesota. She was a 1941 graduate of Allegheny College.
Toby joined the Kenyon workforce in September 1969 as a secretary in the Office of Admissions. Three years later, she became secretary to the dean of student development for two years, followed by three years as secretary to the vice president of the College (a no-longer-extant position). She began the longest portion of her Kenyon career, as administrative assistant to the Department of Art and Art History, in 1977.
In her time with that department, Toby also took on the duties of coordinator of the art gallery. At first, that was a gallery in Colburn Hall, but it became the Olin Art Gallery after the completion of Olin Library in 1986.
“What I remember most was an exhibition project we tackled together — a big one,” said Toby’s friend and colleague Barry Gunderson, professor emeritus of art. “To inaugurate the Olin Gallery, Toby and I put together an alumni exhibit, which involved contacting all the alumni artists we could think of, then coaxing them to send us one of their projects. Toby handled the thick correspondence and sometimes tricky logistics masterfully. We received works of art from all corners of the country, making for a spectacular exhibit that showed the community what the College’s alumni artists were doing after they left Kenyon. Toby’s expertise in this project was but one example of the pride she took in making the College the best it could be.”
Toby retired from Kenyon in January 1989, after a final year in which she relinquished her gallery-related duties. She then began in earnest a career in real estate, which allowed her to help numerous families, including more than a few who came here because of the College, to find homes in the area.
Until the last few weeks, Toby could be seen making her regular rounds in the village. “Every time I encountered Toby in the post office, I marveled at her willingness to buttonhole me to ask about my family, when I was going to retire, and what I was building in my studio,” said Gunderson, whose experience was shared by many. “These were genuine questions. She really wanted to know! I so appreciated her attentiveness.”
Toby was married to and divorced from the late Samuel S. Lord H’87, who came to Kenyon in 1959 as purchasing agent and served as the College’s vice president for finance from 1967 until his retirement in 1987.
She is survived by her daughters, Rebecca Lord Simpson ’73, Katharine Lord Fannin and Martha Lord Trese; and five grandchildren.
A memorial service will be announced at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to a favorite charity of the donor’s choice.
“I loved seeing Toby at the College’s opening dinners in the years after her retirement,” Gunderson said. “There she would be, taking pride in the fact she belonged with us. She certainly belongs with us always — in the Kenyon family.”
—By Thomas Stamp ’73