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Arlene Chandler (Bahr) 1923-2017

Arlene Chandler (Bahr) died peacefully at her home in San Luis Obispo, California on April 4, 2017.

Arlene Bahr was born outside of Prairie du Sac in 1923 to Rueben and Eleanor Bahr and grew up in Prairie du Sac, Sauk City, Baraboo, Devil’s Lake and Badger. She was a 1940 graduate of Prairie de Sac High School graduating with high honors and becoming the first in her family to attend college, attending the University of Wisconsin from 1940-44. At Wisconsin she majored in Journalism and Education with a minor in Economics and English. She also obtained her Wisconsin Secondary Teaching Credential.

During her college years she was extremely active in University life as a member of Coranto (Women’s Professional Journalism Organization), Theta Sigma Phi (Journalism National Honor Society), was President of the YWCA and treasurer of the 1944 Senior Council. She was one of 12 juniors chosen for Mortar Board and upon her graduation in 1944 she was awarded the Herfurth-Kubly Award for being the Outstanding Woman in her class for combining excellent scholarship with student leadership. Among her accomplishments at the University, she was the first woman Executive Business Manager of the Daily Cardinal in 1943-44 and in 2000 was named to the Daily Cardinal and UW Journalism Hall of Fame.

Arlene subsequently lived in Ohio being the first female hired in the Public Relations Department at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. She later moved to Chicago as Program Manager for the YWCA and then to Ohio, Washington DC and New Mexico before moving to San Luis Obispo, California in 1960 to work at California Polytechnic University (Cal Poly). She was the Student Activities Advisor and then Dean of Women at Cal Poly, founding their acclaimed Week of Welcome program and then was the first female professor hired at Cuesta College, the community college in San Luis Obispo. She taught various social study subjects for over 20 years and founded the Human Development Division and was its first chair.

Arlene was extremely active in the community with lifelong memberships in the League of Women Voters, Friends of the Library, Cal Poly Women’s Club and the Congregational Church and was extremely active in the Democratic Party. She along with a small number of other volunteers began the San Luis Obispo Family Services Center in the late 1960’s to provide needed mental health care to the community. That small effort grew into the professional Community Counseling Center, which today assists thousands each year.

Arlene was named “Woman of the Year” in 1987 by Cuesta College and was honored with the Education Alumni of the Year Award in 2009 by Cal Poly University. The “Arlene Chandler Award for Service” is presented each year by the Community Counseling Center.

Arlene was a Badger all her life, avidly following U of W news and activities and especially the football team, attending two Rose Bowls. She was a lifetime member of the Badger Alumni Association.

She is survived by her husband, Everett Chandler and two sons, Mark Chandler and Bret Chandler. For any further information please contact the family at

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