By Lisa Nault
Last Wednesday, November 9, Simmons College students and staff received unfortunate news. Beloved Communications professor Len Mailloux had suffered a cardiac arrest and was admitted to a hospital after being resuscitated. He was then placed into a medically induced coma in order to alleviate the pressure on his heart and restore healthy oxygen flow. On Friday, Mailloux was taken out of the coma but then began to experience a series of seizures. In order to stop the seizures, he was again placed into a medically induced coma and took anti-seizure medication. The effects of the medication take three days, so it was not until Monday night that Mailloux was taken out of the coma. At that time it was revealed that there was no longer brain activity present. Mailloux was taken off of the ventilator and was moved into hospice. When a person is removed from a ventilator, the time in which it takes for them to draw their last breath may vary. It could take an hour, or three days depending.
The Simmons community was in shock Tuesday morning when the news of Mailloux’s passing spread to the student body. Some students excused themselves from class and others took some time to process what had happened with their peers in a safe environment. Simmons staff, especially professors in the Communications Department were also devastated to hear the news.
“He just brought a smile to this place,” Professor James Corcoran stated. “When I was chair [of the Communications Department] I knew I could count on him. He never came into my office with problems, just solutions.”
Professor Andy Porter fondly remembered his dear friend and colleague, Mailloux. “I was always impressed with his energy, enthusiasm, and knowledge of the radio industry,” Porter said. “I will think of him every time I’m in my backyard because, master gardener that he was, Len heard me complaining about growing something in a particular section and brought me three plants that are thriving to this day. I’m going to miss him.”
Many students and faculty members spent the day retelling their favorite stories or encounters with Mailloux. Students who had only met him once or twice told their classmates that despite their brief encounter, he always remembered them and would say hello in the hallways. That is just the type of man Mailloux was.
Student Jenna Cunniff explained how Mailloux’s passion could make an impact on people. “I have a large passion for music,” she explains. “Len would always ask me when I was going to start a show [for the radio station]. He made it seem so relaxed and he was always there to help.” Cunniff stated that Mailloux, “made me feel that everything I did was something to be proud of.”
Simmons College Radio general manager, Danielle Annecston, knew Mailloux as an advisor, professor, and friend. “Len was a professor that whenever I sobbed, I ran to his room,” she explained. “He’d immediately talk me through breathing exercises and calm me down.” Annecston recalls her favorite memory of Mailloux, which was at the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System awards in New York her sophomore year. “It was the first time I felt the right fit in an organization. At one point, Lisa Nault and I laid down on the ground to take a picture and all we can hear Len say is ‘Are they laying on the sidewalk? That just made this trip complete.’ He took pride in showing me New York for the first time and telling us that we could make it here, that our dreams could take us anywhere.” At the end of her story, Annecston stated that “losing Len is losing a limb for me, but he will live on in my dreams of the future.”
Simmons alumnae shared in the loss of the professor they once learned life lessons from. Simmons graduate, Erica Moura, commented on the empowerment he gave his students through his unique teaching style. “Len and I worked pretty closely at the start of the radio,” she recalls. “He pushed me to begin a leadership role. He definitely let students lead the way.”
Moura explains the specific moment she has carried with her from when she was a student. “When I was a student there were a few hate crimes committed and I emailed [Mailloux] to see if I could do a live broadcast covering what happened,” she said. “He did not respond so I sent a mass email…I was nervous when he called me but when I answered he said “that a girl.”’
She now works at the Boston Herald and teaches classes at Curry College. She finds herself thinking of Mailloux often. “I think about Len often when I fail because I think about the conversations we had,” she states. He would say “get back on the saddle; you can’t have perfect days all of the time. Everyday is a clean slate.” She stated that his name would be used more frequently in her classes as her way of memorializing him. His advice will continue to be passed on to future generations.
There will be a service for Mailloux in December, more details will come at a later point in time. In the meantime, students are encouraged to write letters and either send them out themselves or they can give them to the Communications Department who will then bundle the letters and send them on their way.
On November 16, the radio station is holding a “Remembering Len” candle vigil on the Residence Campus quad at 7:30 p.m. All are welcome to come and remember a man who impacted so many people with his charm.