Long-time UK employee passes away

Darlene Mickey, a UK student loan counselor, died after a short battle with cancer on Jan. 9. Mickey was 51 years old and had worked at UK for 24 years.

Mickey’s colleagues endearingly referred to her as the UK politician, the Wal-Mart greeter and a personal weatherman because of her friendliness and warmth toward those she met.

“(Darlene) would say, ‘Have you got your umbrella? It’s going to rain. You better take your coat, it’s pretty cool out there,’ ” said Linda Smitha, director of student billing services. “She was always concerned about our welfare when we went out on campus.”

George Brown Jr., contractor and supply chain coordinator for facilities management, said Mickey possessed the ability to “make a rock talk” with her infectious friendliness. He said he will most miss Mickey’s personality, her laugh and her impeccable style.

“She always made everyone feel so comfortable with her presence and the ease of conversing with her,” Brown said. “She was always willing to lend a helping hand. I and the university community will miss her very much.”

Nancy Taylor, associate director of the student loan office, said she chose Mickey to design a new student loan program in 1995. Taylor said she chose Mickey because she needed someone willing to take on a big challenge who was outgoing as well, and Mickey filled that role.

“Since 1995, Darlene helped literally thousands of students understand their student loans,” Taylor said. “She will truly be missed by the students and her co-workers.”

Allison Peach, a library science graduate student, worked with Mickey. She said just seeing Mickey in the Student Billing Office was enough to brighten her day.

“Every time I went to Student Billing she was always glad to see me and a smile lit up her face,” Peach said. “She always asked how I was and took genuine interest in my life. Her loss is a deep one and she will be severely missed.”

Survivors include: two sons, Kendrick Mickey of Shelbyville, Ky. and James Mickey of Lexington; six grandchildren; brothers, Linzer Mickey and Mike Mickey both of Shelbyville, Ky.; mother, Laura Patterson of Shelbyville, Ky.