ACU's 1972 Alumnus of Year Dies at Age 90

for immediate release Dec. 4, 1997

ARLINGTON, Va. - Rita Foster Stocking, who was named Abilene Christian University's Outstanding Alumnus of the Year for 1972, died Tuesday, Dec. 2. She was 90.

Services will be Friday, Dec. 5, at 11 a.m. at the Arlington Funeral Home in Arlington, Va.

Stocking was the daughter of Otto and Mattie Foster for whom ACU's Foster Science Building is named. Otto was a trustee of the college from 1921-36 and later served on the Board of Development.

A native of Cleburne, Stocking graduated from Abilene Christian in 1927. She taught at Clarendon Junior College until she married Frank A. Stocking in 1929. In 1934, he accepted a position with the U.S. government and the pair moved to Washington, D.C.

After her husband's death in 1940, Stocking began a career with the federal government that lasted 27 years, 16 of which were spent as administrative assistant to seven different Secretaries of Health, Education and Welfare. She also served nearly four years in the White House as secretary to John R. Steelman, assistant to the President, and in administrative roles in the Office of Production Management, Bureau of the Budget, War Manpower Commission, Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion.

In addition to being the first woman to receive ACU's top alumni award, Stocking received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the university in 1982 and the Woman of the Year Award from 20th Century Christian magazine in 1980.

Stocking served as a Bible class teacher for several decades and was a charter member of the Arlington (Va.) Church of Christ. When she was caring for her father at home before he died in 1977, she had a "letter ministry," sending letters of congratulation to new Christians, encouragement to the weak, commendation to restored Christians, consolation to the grieving, admonition to engaged couples, and cheer to the ill.

As an alumna, she gave many hours of service to ACU including membership on the Board of Development. While a student, she was a member of Ko Jo Kai women's social club, W Club, Dramatic Club, James A. Garfield Scholarship Society and other campus activities. She attended graduate school at Columbia University in New York City.

She is survived by one son, Frank A. Stocking Jr.; and three grandchildren.

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Last update: January 22, 1998