Jean Chittenden, faculty emerita in the department of Modern Languages and Literatures, died on March 8. She was 91.
Dr. Chittenden joined the Trinity faculty in 1964 as assistant professor of Spanish after receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. Over the years she taught a variety of Spanish courses at all levels, rose to the rank of full professor, and served several terms as department chair. One of the first female faculty members to be appointed chairperson, she was an advocate for women and other minorities on the campus, lobbied for the use of non-sexist language, and encouraged the employment of qualified female scholars. In addition to her academic responsibilities, Dr. Chittenden served as a sponsor of the Chi Beta Epsilon social sorority.
Following her retirement in 1998, Dr. Chittenden traveled extensively. Fulfilling a long-held desire to visit South America, she toured a number of countries including Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. She especially enjoyed trips to Spain, where her interest in Spanish playwrights could be indulged. She also devoted considerable time as a volunteer at the Assistance League, a national organization devoted to helping needy families with young children.
Dr. Chittenden possessed an indomitable spirit that could not be missed. In July 2002, after being caught in a flash flood not far from campus, her car sank under many feet of water at the bottom of the Olmos Golf Course. She managed to open and crawl through a window as the car sank to the bottom of a fairway. She grabbed a branch at the top of large oak tree and held on. Eventually, San Antonio police officers rescued her, telling a TV newsman that they arrived just in time because they didn’t know how much longer she could hold on. Dr. Chittenden later told her friends that she would have clung to the top of that tree for as long as it took.
Dr. Chittenden is survived by her son, Russell, and her many friends. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, April 16 in Parker Chapel.