Toni DuBois-Walker died of cancer on Friday Nov. 7.
DuBois, 59, was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell, in 2011 according to friend and co-worker Sharon Kelly, executive assistant to the vice president of student services.
“She braved that disease for three years and sometimes was in a lot of pain, yet she continued to work despite doctors telling her to be on medical leave,” Kelly said. “Even if she was here on a part-time basis, she was still here; it showed her love and passion for students.”
DuBois retired on Oct. 17 after working six and a half years for FC.
Kelly added that she was concerned with how DuBois looked on her last day on campus on Oct. 6, after returning from vacation.
“I always supported her but on that particular day I knew something was wrong,” Kelly said. “The next day her husband took her to emergency room and two days later the doctors said there is nothing more they can do.”
Kelly added that it happened relatively fast.
“The campus never got to say goodbye to her while she was here,” she said. “That’s what we, as a campus community are hurting about.”
Before coming to Fullerton College in 2005, DuBois was the dean of financial aid, EOPS and veterans services at Long Beach City College.
It was her passion for her students and her knowledge of the California Community College system, which prompted Kelly, who was a part of the hiring committee to offer DuBois the job.
During her six and half years, DuBois made significant impact on the campus and fought for students more than they realized, according to Kelly. Students always came first and she always looked out for them.
“Toni was a friend and a colleague who embodied the heart and mind of an educator,” said President Rajan Vurdien. “She is widely admired for her passion and education to students and Fullerton College as a whole. She will be greatly missed.”
Some of the impacts that DuBois made included implementing Smart Start Saturday, which allows students and family to be more informed about the campus and enrollment. Kelly added that any student, who collected financial aid in the past 20 years, is a result of DuBois fighting financial aid and processes for students all across California community colleges.
In the three years that DuBois worked and battled cancer, her co-workers were inspired by the passion and fight she had to continue doing her job effectively.
“I didn’t read pain on her and she must have had some,” said Lisa McPheron, director of campus communications. “I’m blown away by her strength and her dedication to continue working as long as she did. It’s really outstanding.”
Beyond work and her passion for students, Kelly could attest DuBois’ was a genuine friend who loved conversing with people. Kelly recalls the joyful times of how DuBois’ and her would share stories about their grandchildren, who are only a month a part from each other.
In honor of DuBois, the Chris Lamm Memorial Food Bank will be renamed, “The Chris Lamm and Toni DuBoi-Walker Memorial Food Bank.”
DuBois was an initiator in finding a room and getting funding and faculty support for the food bank; which prompted Chris Lamm to become an advocate for it.
A memorial website for DuBois is in process by her husband John Walker. The campus plans on hosting a memorial service for DuBois in the near future. There is currently no set date.