A 47-year legacy of service

Lila Garlick standing on a stage and receiving an award from VCU President Michael Rao. Black and gold NCAA basketball banners from 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012 hang in the background.
Lila Garlick received a plaque from VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., in 2015 for 45 years of service.

Lila Garlick, who served Virginia Commonwealth University and the School of Social Work specifically for 47 years, passed away on July 11, 2023.

Lila retired in 2018 and is the only two-time recipient of VCU’s Dorris Douglas Budd Award for outstanding service by full-time administrative support staff (1986, 1994). 

She spent most of her time in the Office of Field Education, where she worked with hundreds of students, faculty and field partners over the years. Lila touched many lives during her tenure with the school and was a constant source of support, joy and encouragement. She loved her family fiercely, and many folks in our community grew to know her family as well as an extension of her. 

“Lila was a quiet, gentle giant of a woman – she did not boast about her accomplishments and was always hard at work, making such important contributions to the school and community partners,” said Humberto Fabelo, interim Ph.D. Program director and associate professor, who has been with the SSW faculty since 1995. “There was never a time when she did not come through with whatever was needed or asked of her – all you had to do was ask and before you were done, Lila had provided what was asked for, with immaculate record and correct information. I never had to question the accuracy of anything she ever provided.

“For almost half a century, Lila saw people come and go, including deans, administrators, faculty, students and community partners, changes in the school’s structure and how it functioned, changes in the university – she saw the change from taking dictation for letters in short-hand notation taken by secretaries to everyone having a desktop computer and from writing ‘while you were out’ messages to communicating in intra-mail, then email. … Lila saw it all, but throughout, she adapted to all new things quickly and was a positive role model for embracing change, doing the work that needs to be done with great dedication and pride, and quietly sitting with her accomplishments.

“Lila’s pride and joy was her family, all of whom were accomplished individuals in their own right and no doubt, as a result of having her as a mother and grandmother.”  

Sarah Price, who retired this past summer after 17 years as a faculty member with the school, called Lila “a truly bright light in the world and in the School of Social Work. I’m grateful for all the years that Lila filled our lives with laughter (and the field office with goodies … especially memorable back in the Raleigh Building!).”

Lila’s Facebook page reflected her faith and love of life, family and friends. Each day she sent a “Good Morning” message reminding her followers to “Be grateful for another blessed day of life.”