Evelyn Story Lett, one of UBC’s first graduates and a founding member of the
Alma Mater Society, died March 26.
Together with her future husband, Sherwood Lett, she created the first formal
draft of the AMS constitution which gave women the right to vote in student
In 1917, her graduating year, the annual said “as a rare specimen of a devotee
to both studies and student activities, Evelyn should be put under a glass case
as an example for the rising generation.”
She received her Master of Arts from UBC in 1926.
After World War II she served on a federal government commission to study
employment problems of women. In 1949 she drew up a petition to the government
which resulted in women’s residences on campus.
In 1958 the university awarded her an honorary degree.
The UBC president at the time, Norman MacKenzie, said that “her wide range
of public services reflects the humanity, compassion and respect for learning
which have made Evelyn Story Lett a woman, a graduate and a citizen whom we
are proud and happy to honour.”
Always active in community organizations, she served on the board of the YWCA
and Vancouver General Hospital, and helped establish the Women’s Auxiliary of
the Salvation Army. She was also a founding member of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
In 1996 the AMS created an endowment to provide financial aid for students
needing child care. The fund, the largest endowment of its kind at a Canadian
university, was named in honour of Lett.
She was also given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Alumni Association,
which she helped found.
Last year, at age 101, she travelled to Ottawa to receive the Order of Canada.
“My family is more excited than me,” she said. “I just want to be presented
as a good citizen of Vancouver and of Canada.”