An Uncommon Woman: Elizabeth Hubert Malott ‘53, Scripps College Trustee

The woman who helped transform the social fabric of Scripps College with a strategic gift has died, just two weeks after attending her 50th reunion on campus.

Elizabeth Hubert Malott ’53, known as “Ibby” to her many friends, succumbed to kidney cancer at her home in Kenilworth, Illinois, on May 18, 2003. In the week preceeding her death, she celebrated a Mother’s Day brunch with her family and spoke by phone to friends and classmates, who reported her to be in good spirits.

President Nancy Y. Bekavac, in announcing Mrs. Malott’s death to the Scripps College community, said, “Elizabeth Malott exemplified in her life the mission of Scripps College: she had a clear and independent mind, and she lived confidently, courageously, and hopefully.”

A trustee of Scripps College since 1996, Mrs. Malott recognized in the mid-90s the need for a central gathering place for dining and activities to bring the College together. She did more than just lend her support to this effort: she brought her whole family into the enterprise. Linda Davis Taylor, vice president for development at the time, recalls, “As Brenda Levin, architect for the Commons, described the project to the Malott family, Ibby exclaimed with characteristic enthusiasm,’Isn’t this exciting!”‘

In Mrs. Malott’s honor, her family foundation made the lead gift toward construction of the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Commons, which has enhanced and increased interactions among students, faculty, and staff since it opened in February 2000. Many of the finer points of the design of the Malott Commons can be credited to Mrs. Malott’s personal interest and attention to detail-such as the poem on the fountain in the courtyard, taken from Longfellow’s “Evangeline.” The Class of 1953, led by Mrs. Malott, donated funds towards the fountain’s construction.

She brought to all of her work for the College an incisive mind, high standards, and great enthusiasm.

Known for her insightful opinions-expressed vividly-as well as for her elegant style and poise, she was an active member of the Board of Trustees’ Buildings and Grounds and Admission and Student Affairs Committees.

Elizabeth Hubert was born in Duluth, Minnesota, and grew up in the Orient. She was evacuated to Canada just prior to World War II, and eventually came to the United States after the war. After graduating from Scripps, she went to New York to work for the Near East College Association, followed by the Council on Foreign Relations, and then the editorial department of American Heritage magazine.

In 1960, she married Robert H. Malott, an executive with FMC Corporation. She embraced the joys and challenges of motherhood with the birth of her three children: Elizabeth in 1963, Barbara in 1964, and Deane in 1968.

She devoted her life to her family, to the communities in which she lived, and to the causes with which she was impassioned.

Her endless energy and insatiable curiosity were focused on a philosophy of service and involvement. Her eldest daughter, Elizabeth, said no profile of her mother would be complete without also mentioning the numerous ways in which she imbued her three children with these values. From far-ranging discussions around the dinner table to being a classroom parent, Girl Scout Leader, and den mother, she was deeply involved in her children’s daily activities. Family conversations often centered on the importance of honesty, responsibility, and benevolence. “Our childrer’s moral standards are high, and that is a great tribute to my wife,” said her husband, Robert, retired chairman, president, and chief executive officer of FMC, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.

Elizabeth Malott also had an adventuresome spirit and an appetite for learning.

She loved non-traditional trips with her husband, including dog sledding across Baffin Island in Canada, witnessing the polar bear migration in Manitoba, visiting the South Pole, and circumnavigating the Arctic on a Russian nuclear icebreaker.

The Chicago Tribune, in a May 23, 2003, tribute to Mrs. Malott, reported:”She also loved learning about people, from corporate leaders to tradesmen. It was not unusual for plumbers or exterminators to find themselves exchanging life stories with her over a cup of coffee.”

Mrs. Malott worked tirelessly to address the challenging problem of osteoporosis. Suffering from the disease herself, she gave programs concerning women’s health issues to members of the business community. She was unrelenting in asking women, no matter where she was, if they had been tested for it.

She also served on the Women’s Boards of the Field Museum, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago, and has been a member of the Textile Committee of the Art Institute of Chicago and the visiting Committee of Northwestern University Dental School. She was chairman of the Illinois Public Arts Advisory Committee and had an abiding interest in the art and culture of the Inuit and the Southwest Native American Indians. She was a trustee and regent of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois and a member of the Junior League and the Arts Club of Chicago.

She is survived by her husband of 43 years, Robert H. Malott; three children, Elizabeth Pohle, Barbara Kizziah, and Deane Malott; five grandchildren; and three sisters, Renee Spencer, Marcia Ledogar, and Joey Williams. The family has asked that donations in her memory be made to Scripps College or to the University of Chicago Osteoporesis Research Fund.