Faculty and staff Wednesday honored Katherine D. Warden, assistant to former Provost Jerry R. Green, at a memorial service held in Memorial Church.
Warden, 59, died of cancer in August.
"To many people...Kate was the office of the provost," Green said yesterday at the service. "Often when people came in, they were anxious to meet her, but somehow felt they knew her already."
Green, Washington Post columnist Judith Mann, Warden's friend Patricia Alger and Warden's daughter Staci spoke during the service, which was conducted by the Rev. Peter J. Gomes, Plummer professor of Christian morals, and the Rev. Emmanuel Metaxes, of the Greek Orthodox Church Taxiarchae in Watertown.
Warden, trained as an economist, had worked at Harvard since the 1980s as an administrator in the economics department and the provost's office.
"This was the place that nourished her keen intellect," Alger said. "Today's setting is indeed a perfect tribute."
Speakers praised her commitment to her Greek heritage, the University and her family.
She is survived by her husband Charles and two children.
"I would compare her to the goddess Athens, the goddess of wisdom and the arts and sciences and protector of the city," Green said. "Like Athena, she was able to shift the winds and calm the seas."
Warden was described by all four speakers as a confidence, councellors and friend.
"She was the best listener I think I've ever known," Alger said. "She gave of her advice and wisdom freely."
Green, the Wells professor of political economy, said Warden was a pioneer in the field.
"Kate trained in economics at a time when that was an uncommon career for young women," Green said. "She retained the economist's analytic mindset."
The Faneuil Group of corporations, in conjunction with the University and Warden's family, have established the Katherine D. Warden Scholarship Fund for women at Harvard College.
"She really did believe in young women at a time when others did not," said Mann, Warden's sister-in-law.
Contributions to the scholarship fund may be sent to John Hanselman, recording secretary.