First published in CommUnicate issue 314
Joan Miles, who died of a stroke in February, was Jack (later Lord) Butterworth’s Personal Assistant from 1971 to 1984. She had previously worked at the Arts Council and as PA to the Secretary of Makerere University in Uganda.
At Makerere she was the focal point for social life on campus and appeared to be exempt from all the normal rules of status, race and gender in her familiarity with everyone from the vice-chancellor to visiting Ministers and foreign dignitaries.
At Warwick Joan was a tall and imposing figure and her bold manner could terrify junior (and not so junior!) staff. Even the Vice Chancellor was known to quail from time to time. Underneath she was a kind and caring person and, as Warden of Fieldgate House in Kenilworth, she was popular with her student charges. She enlivened social gatherings at the University with her often boisterous bantering humour and her mordant wit; she had many close friends in the academic community particularly amongst those who had an Africa connection. But she reserved her real enthusiasm for the Arts Centre and remained a pillar of the Friends of the Mead in her retirement.