Arlene Chandler
Arlene Chandler Arlene Chandler (Bahr Vokoun), 94, died peacefully at home with her family present on April 4, 2017. Arlene was born in rural Wisconsin to Eleanor and Rueben Bahr. She lived in Wisconsin during her childhood and teen years and then in Chicago, Akron and Painesville, Ohio, Washington D.C., and Albuquerque, New Mexico before locating to San Luis Obispo in 1960. She is survived by her husband, Everett Chandler with whom she shared 53 years of love filled with companionship, fun, travel and many common interests such as political activity and ardent fan participation for sports, especially Cal Poly basketball and football. Arlene is also survived by two sons, Mark J. Chandler (Carolyn Tavares) and Bret A. Chandler (Junko); three step children, Alan Chandler (Judy Redmond), Ann Chandler (Joe Mikulsky) and Marge Chandler (Jim Archebault); granddaughter, Lea Chandler; and two step grandsons, Nick Mikulsky (Elizabeth Lucas) and Greg Mikulsky. She was preceded in death by her first husband, Harold Vokoun, who died of a heart attack at age 39. As a young widow with two sons, she relocated from New Mexico to San Luis Obispo in 1960 for a job at Cal Poly as Student Activities Advisor. One of Arlene's first accomplishments at Cal Poly was the creation of the "Week of Welcome (WOW)," a student orientation program that continues to the present and which is a model for Universities across the nation. She advanced to the position of Dean of Women in 1962 and joined the first teaching staff at Cuesta College in 1965, the first female professor hired by the college. At Cuesta she taught in the Social Science Division and pioneered the formation of the Human Development Division where she was that Division's first chair. She retired from Cuesta in 1986 after 31 years . Arlene loved learning. She graduated from Prairie de Sac, Wisconsin High School with high honors and became the first in her family to attend college at the University of Wisconsin, Madison where she majored in Journalism and had minors in Economics, English and Education. She graduated in 1944 with a BA degree and a Teaching Certificate. At her graduation she was named the Outstanding Woman in her class for having combined excellent scholarship with student leadership. She was the first woman to attain an executive position, that of Executive Business Manager, on the Daily Cardinal, one of the nation's oldest and most outstanding student newspapers. Later women students would say that she helped "crack the glass ceiling." In 2000 Arlene was inducted into the Daily Cardinal and Journalism Hall of Fame. Upon graduation, Arlene joined the Public Relations Staff of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio as part of the war effort. She was the first professional Public Relations woman ever hired by Goodyear, breaking the "glass ceiling" again. She moved to Chicago in 1945 where she worked at the Loop Center YWCA assisting women who had been industrially employed during the war and were transitioning to peace time employment. Newly married in 1947, she moved to Painesville, Ohio, Washington D.C. and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Arlene concentrated on raising her sons but also participated in many community activities. Arlene moved to SLO in 1960 for a position at Cal Poly. In 1964 Arlene married Everett and began a 53 year journey of love and adventure together. Arlene always gave back to the community and cherished time with friends. She was a lifelong member of the League of Women Voters. She was an active member of the United Church of Christ (Congregational Church) and helped build the Church in San Luis Obispo as a member since 1960. She was a leader in the local Democratic party and an active participant in the Cal Poly Women's Club, the Cuesta Retired Faculty and many other community organizations. Many honors have been awarded to Arlene. In 1987 Cuesta College named her "Woman of the Year" and in 2009 Cal Poly surprised her with the University Honored Alumni Award for Education at its Homecoming. In 2012, she and Everett were honored at Cal Poly with the dedication of the Quiet Study Room at the University Union as the "Chandler Room" recognizing their many years of support of the University. In the late 1960's, Arlene along with a few friends and volunteer professional counselors founded the "Family Services Center" to provide counseling and support services to those in need in our community, a service that did not exist at the time and which she supported to the present. Now known as the Community Counseling Center (CCC), the Center today helps hundreds of persons each year. Arlene was honored in 2013 as a Founder of the Center and annually, the "Arlene B. Chandler" award is presented to those who provide outstanding service to the Center. Arlene has maintained through the years that the best award of all has been a happy family life. She cherished the many family vacations around the world and the weekend picnics on the beaches and fields of San Luis County. With Everett they traveled across the globe from China to Europe to Brazil to Australia and from the Arctic to the Amazon to the Mekong to South America. They have always been the biggest Mustang fans, rarely missing a basketball or football game for decades, dressed in their Green and Gold. And they shared a love of learning and the importance of education, creating scholarships and support so all could receive an education. A Celebration of Arlene's Life will be forthcoming. The family asks that any contributions be made in her name to the Community Counseling Center at or 805-543-7969. Sign her guestbook at
Published by San Luis Obispo County Tribune on Apr. 6, 2017.
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16 Entries
Arlene was my teacher at Cuesta College and remained my favorite teacher even after two Masters Degrees. She embraced me with such love and encouragement that I adopted her in my heart as my seconed mother. Vibrant, fun, deeply caring and inspiring I have strived my whole life to be like her. She lives in me as my mentor. I am who I am much in part due to my knowing her. A shining Light indeed!
Elizabeth Morton
April 30, 2020
Arlene was a mentor and a role model for many.
I am grateful to have experienced the abundance of her encouragement and support. She offered so much with true grace and selfless sincerity.
Darlene Tunney Rosene
April 14, 2017
I was so sad to hear about Arlene's passing. She was a wonderful woman, who accomplished so much and inspired so many! Thank you for sharing her with us; her Cal Poly and Student Affairs family will miss her warm smile and energy.
Sam Mora
April 12, 2017
Farewell to a gracious woman who gave much to her community.
April 9, 2017
Arlene was a mentor and a friend. She will be missed. In our SLO community.
Ellen Harper
April 9, 2017
I am forever indebted and thankful to Arlene for her mentorship, passion and reassurance. Her personal cards of encouragement to continue being a leader are treasured keepsakes. What a debt of gratitude we owe Arlene for her courage and wisdom. Thank you Arlene for leaving the legacy of Family Services Center/Community Counseling Center for us all.
James Statler
April 7, 2017
Arlene was truly a shining light in our community. Each time that I had the honor to be around her, she always had big smile and something lovely to say. While I did not know her well, I certainly cherish the times I was able to be around her.
Paul Johnson
April 7, 2017
Arlene was a truly remarkable person, always dedicated to helping others. This dedication explains why she was a committed member of the Democratic Party all of her adult life. I remember her telling me that she not only voted for FDR when he ran for a 4th term as president in 1944, but she recalled walked precincts for him! FDR was her hero and Arlene is my hero. Like FDR, Arlene set a standard of caring involvement in public life that few of us will ever match.
Laurence Houlgate
April 7, 2017
We are so sorry to know of your loss in your wonderful family, and know how incredibly special she was. Such an accomplished person and parent. Thinking of you all during this time with much love,

Lisa & Taylor
Lisa & Taylor Spivey
April 7, 2017
A remarkable life - lived fully and in service of others - an example to us all. My heart goes out to Chan and family, especially Mark, Carolyn and Lea. May Arlene rest in eternal peace.
Marianne Tavares
April 7, 2017
Arlene Chandler was one of the first persons who welcomed to me to San Luis Obispo when I arrived 40 years ago this month, as a young city planner very new to the wonders of SLO. I got to know Arlene first in our work with the Sierra Club Santa Lucia Chapter, and on many campaigns over those four decades. She was a great role model for me as a civic activist, as a concerned citizen, and as a proponent of democratic values. She was an inspiration to so many people: To women and girls, to writers and journalists, and to community activists like myself. She touched so many lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and with Everett and all of the Chandler family.
John Ashbaugh
April 6, 2017
Donna Davis
April 6, 2017
After taking a class taught by Mrs. Chandler at Cuesta in the early 70's, she became one of my mentors. She was always cheerful and encouraging; I loved her smile. She touched so many lives. She was very dear to my family.

Donna (and Gary) Davis
Donna Davis
April 6, 2017
May Arlene Rest In Peace. She was a true inspiration for many young people. So sorry for your loss, Chandler family. Roberta and Frank Kassak
April 6, 2017
What a special woman

Judy Alter
April 6, 2017
So sorry again to hear of Arlene's passing. Arlene was a very warm person who always treated me like a daughter. In fact, when my own mother died in 2013, Arlene asked if she could be my "surrogate" mother. She had a long, happy life surrounded by a loving family and friends. She will be greatly missed. Hugs to Chan.
Judy Redmond
April 6, 2017
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