Fond Farewell: Retired Staff Member Eunice Toussaint

Our hearts are heavy to share the news that Eunice Toussaint, who served the University in many capacities for more than 20 years passed away May 9. She was 97.

Born October 6, 1924, in Bay City, Michigan, she was raised in Arizona and then California, where she graduated from Pasadena High School and studied at Pasadena Junior College, graduating in 1941. As her husband’s career moved them to several cities, they eventually arrived in Chico, where she immersed herself in the Chico Junior Art Club and focused on youth-oriented service projects, including the creation of Caper Acres.

In 1955, Toussaint was hired as a staff member at Chico State. Throughout the next 23 years, she would work in the Information Office, Counseling, Advising and Testing, Guidance Research, and Orientation. One of her greatest legacies of her is that Toussaint created the format and gathered the necessary information to create planning guides for each major, minor, option, and credential the University offered. In retirement, she was eventually hired back to assist with a two-year catalog and update the academic planning guides.

Toussaint served as a representative on what is now the Staff Council for two years, and was its first female chair from 1972–73. She also served as a staff representative on the Academic Senate and served on the Personnel Policies Committee, the Associated Students Business Enterprises Board, the Executive Committee for Administrative Grievances, the Campus Publications Committee, and the Academic Standing Committee.

Retired staff member Sharon Salcido first met Toussaint in the mid-1960s and they formed a friendship that would last a lifetime. Thoughtful, wise, and caring, Toussaint had a way of making everyone feel special, Salcido said.

“I think of Eunie as the ‘First Lady’ at Chico State! She was the first female chair of Staff Assembly [now Staff Council] in 1972–73, the first recipient of the Outstanding Employee of the Year Award in 1975, the first co-chair of the Retired Staff Luncheon in 1980, and she was inducted into the [Emeritus Retired Faculty and Staff Association] Hall of Honor in the first year that retired staff were honored in 2011,” she said. “She was truly a blessing to everyone who was honored to know her!”

Toussaint had a smile and welcoming personality that drew others naturally to her, said retired staff member Billie Kanter, admitting she would visit Toussaint in her office because it always made her day.

“Eunie was the epitome of a dedicated employee—skilled, efficient, knowledgeable, masterful, upbeat, and did whatever was needed to help the person in front of her,” Kanter said. “I adored her. She [was among many] women I respected, and I tried, as a punk 24-year-old, to copy how they worked and who they were. I viewed them as pioneers—moving from the old image to the new working woman. Eunie and her cohort of her will never be duplicated. ”

Toussaint retired in 1978 as an academic advisor, at which time she was conferred an honorary Bachelor of Humanity.

Retired staff member Shirley Rabo said Toussaint became a fundamental part of her life starting in her college days. Some of their most treasured time together was working on projects through the Staff Council.

“We loved her energy, wisdom, laughter, and sense of humor as she would reminisce about the fun she had during her employment in the advising and counseling office,” Rabo said. “Genuine, unassuming, and nonjudgmental, she was always willing to listen and mentor. She had an ability to put words in the most beautiful context which would touch your heart, soul, and mind.

Toussaint was also a regular volunteer at the Cancer Shop and campus blood drives. Drawing deep enjoyment from social groups, she was a longtime member of the Lunch Bunch, Cancer Group (named for the Zodiac sign), the Champagne Group, and the Elizabeth Group. She also enjoyed gardening, music, writing poetry and prose, and spending time with family and friends. And she was an avid traveler, whether trips to Lake Almanor or more distant adventures to Rome, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.

Toussaint is survived by her son, Terry; daughter Susan; Grandson Nicholas; great-grandsons Leo and Auggie; brother William; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A service was held for close family and friends on May 21. A celebration of life will be held at a later date, and we will share details when they are finalized. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made in Toussaint’s name to the Jesus Center, Butte Humane Society, or Torres Community Shelter.

The University flag will be lowered Wednesday, June 1, in her memory.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.