Lucile Stark remembered for innovative work at Western Psych library

Lucile Stark, innovative director of the library at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC), died October 29, 2018, at 95.

“She was a remarkable person, ahead of her time in so many ways,” said Barbara A. Epstein, who worked in the library under Stark’s directorship (1975-1985) and succeeded her. Epstein today is director of the Health Sciences Library System, which has absorbed the WPIC library collection.

“She was a remarkable person and she left a big impact on people who knew her,” Epstein said.

Stark led the fundraising effort that transformed the WPIC library from its cramped original quarters to a modern two-floor space that offered widely used services in the leading technologies of the time: videos and electronic and database searches that aided the Department of Psychiatry’s prominent research efforts, as well as mental health facilities throughout the nation.

She also was ahead of her time in her activism for social justice for underrepresented minorities and in her support for young women joining WPIC, including Epstein as a new mother with a career. “She modelled how to do that — she was so supportive,” Epstein said.

As a colleague, Epstein added, “she was bright, unconventional and irreverent, with a mischievous sense of humor — lots of fun to be with.”

Stark, whose father was an ob-gyn, “sometimes like to shock people” — wearing an IUD as a necklace, for instance, which drew startled recognition from physicians. Stark also paid for the removal of a concentration camp tattoo from an acquaintance for whom she knew the mark was a painful daily reminder of the past, Epstein said.

Her husband was Nathan J. Stark, vice chancellor for Health Sciences 1974-1984, who died in 2002. But Lucile Stark “was intent on making her own way,” Epstein said. “She went out of her way to be independent.”

The pair often entertained at a farmhouse in Punxsutawney, which they had renovated as a rural retreat and named “Falling Downs.” They were married for 60 years.

Born in Chicago, Lucile Stark earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in library science from the University of Missouri. She and her husband had retired to Washington, D.C., where she was a docent of the Sackler and Freer galleries of Asian art at the Smithsonian Institution for 30 years.

She is survived by children Margaret, Robert, David and Paul, six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and many nephews and cousins. Memorial contributions are suggested to the ACLU, Emily's List or Planned Parenthood.