Denise Saim, a 27-year employee at the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, died suddenly May 26, 2020, at her home of an apparent heart attack. She was 64.
Saim joined the engineering school in October 1993, working in the registrar’s office at a time when all records were handled on paper. She deftly and accurately managed thousands of student records, and her accuracy was appreciated by both students and peers. In 2002, she became an administrative aide in Undergraduate Engineering Student Services, where she greeted all students and visitors while helping to solve problems and answer questions of faculty, staff and students.
Chris Kroeger, associate dean for undergraduate student services, said Saim recently mentioned the person who trained her, the late Ouida Jackson, as her inspiration.
“Ouida Jackson was a strong and determined person who was very direct and took her job seriously,” Kroeger said. “Denise admired those qualities and routinely displayed them herself. And it was always very clear that Denise’s family was the center of her life. Denise had many pictures and stories of her family members on her desk, and she was very proud of her daughter, Amie.”
“Denise was a fixture in our office,” said Melanie Osborn, senior assistant dean in Engineering Undergraduate Student Services. “Her institutional memory was invaluable, and she helped all of us navigate policies and procedures. Denise was a key figure in all the Engineering Undergraduate Student Services traditions, decorating for the holidays and organizing various parties. More than that, Denise was a good friend. She loved sharing stories about families, pets, books and everyday chat with the office. Almost always even keel, Denise wasn’t afraid to share her honest opinion, and best of all, she was always there if you needed her.”
Saim is survived by her husband, Abulgasim Saim; daughter Amirah Saim; sisters Deborah Perrin and Diana Gilbers, as well as extended family and friends. She was preceded in death by her son, Adam. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association or to Stray Rescue of St. Louis.