Elaine Didier

Today we are honoring Elaine Didier. Elaine was a former member of our club and served as the first female president of our Ann Arbor Rotary Club in 1993-94. Many of you know Elaine, but probably very few of you know her background and her extensive commitment to our community.

Elaine has had a most remarkable professional career and is currently the Director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum, located in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids. She earned her B.A. (Honors English), M.L.S. and Ph.D. in Library Science from the University of Michigan and also studied at Oxford University. She worked at U-M for 22 years where her leadership positions included appointments as Interim Director of Academic Outreach, Associate Dean of the Rackham School of Graduate Studies, and Director of Information Resources for the School of Business Administration. She also developed and directed an international executive program in business informatics cosponsored with Erasmus University in Rotterdam. She has also held faculty appointments in the U-M Schools of Education, Library Science and Business. It was during this time at U-M when Elaine was a member of our club and one day when she was jogging with her husband, Gordon, she mentioned that the then President, Ramon Hernandez asked her if she would be interested in being President of the Club. (Recall women were first admitted into the club in 1987.) Gordon was very supportive and thought she would make a fine president. He was right and we were very lucky. After her year as President, she took a position as Dean and professor at the Kresge Library at Oakland University.

Elaine has been very active in a number of state and national professional associations. In 1987 she was elected president of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology. In 2004 she was elected to the board of directors of the Association for College and Research Libraries as ACRL Counselor. She is past president of the Michigan Library Association, former chair of the Library of Michigan board of trustees, and former member of the board of directors of the Michigan Association for Media in Education.

She has also been an active contributor to numerous University and community groups. In the fall of 1997, she was selected for membership of the board of directors of Compuware Corporation, a major provider of information technology for business, where she served through 2008. She has been on the Martha Cook Building board of governors and chairperson. She is a member of the vestry board of St. John’s Episcopal Church of Detroit.

Now to some personal information. She has been married to Gordon for 41 years. According to Gordon, after dating a mere three weeks while seniors at the U-M, they were involved in a rollover of an MGB in which Elaine suffered a broken vertebra. She was taken to a small rural hospital and as she was on the operating table being stitched back together, Gordon told the surgeon, “Take good care of the girl. She’s the best girl I’ve ever known.”

Elaine is a dedicated sailor and member of the Detroit Yacht Club for 33 years and has had many interesting sailing experiences in her more than three decades of sailing. She enjoys classical music and owns a Steinway B piano and a harpsichord and tries to play when she has time. She is an avid flower gardener who maintains numerous planting beds around her home in Plymouth. She also learned to sew at an early age and even made her wedding gown. Finally, Elaine has an abiding love for all animals and especially cats, including her own two boys, Whiskers and Jacques. Elaine’s proud husband, Gordon, and provider of the personal information today, is in attendance. Gordon, would you please come forward and join us at the head table, as I understand you haven’t heard Elaine speak on this topic.

Now please join me in congratulating Elaine. We are so grateful to have such a talented individual in our community –and Elaine, will you please come forward so that we can present you with Distinguished Service Award, Rotary’s highest award.” Elaine received a standing ovation. [Remarks by Beth Fitzsimmons, Oct. 24, 2012]