Carolyn Faye Lambert, wife of former Baker University president Daniel Lambert, died Wednesday at age 73 at her home in Overland Park.
During her 19 years serving as Baker’s first lady, Lambert helped to establish the parMentors, a service-oriented student group that represents the school and organizes major events. She also oversaw the design of the reception facility in the president’s home, which now bears her name.
Lambert, described as optimistic and indomitable by those closest to her, formed relationships with students, faculty and administration during her husband's tenure as president of Baker, from 1987 to 2006.
“I certainly hope that people would remember, first and foremost, her love for the place,” her husband said. “Most will remember her as the person who made sure the events representing Baker University were done well, to encourage pride among current students and alumni, but also to present a face of the University that convinced people it was an institution worth supporting.”
Born in Garden City, Mo., to Rev. Willard and Thelma Bright, Lambert received a Bachelor of Arts degree from William Jewell College in 1965, and later studied at the University of Missouri in Kansas City and the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.
Before marrying Daniel Lambert, she was a teacher and specialized in working with students who had learning disabilities, a skill she put to use during her time at Baker.
“She took up the cause of an undergrad who had a learning disability that made it difficult for him to pass a certain course,” Daniel Lambert said. “She went to the dean and explained how to reconstruct the way the material was presented. She thought he could pass, and he did. Now, he’s a very loyal graduate.”
In her free time, Lambert enjoyed traveling (Hilton Head, S.C. was her favorite location), reading and volunteering.
In addition to being the chief volunteer at Baker, Lambert worked with several local charities, and was a board member for the Douglas County Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA.
"She enjoyed that immensely," Lambert said. "She was involved with a number of organizations, but CASA was probably the one she gave the most energy to."
But it was her time spent at Baker University, Daniel Lambert said, that was one of her most cherished roles, just below that of wife and mother. In 1990, Baker made Lambert an honorary alumna.
“She wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty and she didn’t need attaboys to be committed to the job,” Daniel Lambert said. “Those 20 years there were the happiest of our married years.”
In addition to her husband, she is survived by her children, Kristie Hatfield and Buzz Lambert, her sister, Wilma Dee, and seven grandchildren.
A memorial service for Lambert will be held Tuesday at 11 a.m. at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, 13720 Roe Ave., in Leawood. A reception will be held at the church following the service.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Dan and Carolyn Lambert Endowed Scholarship Fund. Funds should be sent to Baker University, Box 65, Baldwin City, KS 66006. The family suggests that donations could also be made the church at which the service will be held.