Immortality was Her Gift, A Tribute to Julia Rutherford Silvers

Julia Rutherford Silvers, Author, Teacher, and Friend
Deceased, 2020

Throughout ones lifetime, most of us can easily remember when and where we met someone whose personality and intellect was so forceful that it could positively move entire industries to higher levels of thinking. However, I regret that I cannot recollect when or where I met the indominatable Julie Rutherford Silvers, who sadly died this week. Perhaps my inability to recall our first meeting at a fixed place and time was an early sign of her potential to achieve immortality.

I first recognised Julia’s great intellectual gifts and artistic talents when I invited her to teach several courses for the George Washington University Event Management Certificate Programme during the mid 1990’s. She was so talented and in demand that students and their teachers invited her to travel literally all over the world to inform and inspire them regarding her expansive theories about risk management.

Later, I was encouraged to develop a distance learning system for the GW programme and I appointed Julia as the curriculum consultant. Not only did she create and write the words that thousands of students all over the world would use to guide their careers, she also supervised the video production to insure there was continuity between her words and the images used to illustrate her principles.

A mutual friend, Janet Landey of South Africa, invited Julia and myself and other educators in the fledgling field of event management studies to collaborate and develop what Julia entitled the Event Management Body of Knowledge (EMBOK). It was her vision, that a uniform system of theories and best practices could be adopted by countries all over the world to provide a seamless global approach and common standards for this critically important industry and field of study.

Julia’s artistic talents were perhaps first nurtured when she was a performer and a costumer for live theatre. Later she owned and operated an event management decor and production firm in Albequerque, New Mexico. She used these same skills involving creativity, innovation, and boundless curiosity for finding, her term, “an elegant model” for the growing field of event management.

Along the way to discovering this model, she authored many text books and wrote refereed journal articles with her friend and colleague, the late Dr. Kathy Nelson of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I was surprised to learn that Julia did not have a PhD. Many scholars, including myself respected her superior intellect that was coupled with her her exacting discipline for high level research.

However, I now believe that she was that rare scholar who might have actually been ill served by the restrictions academia often place upon those who wish to earn the ultimate degree title. In fact, if she had wished, she could have easily submitted her own works for a PhD to be granted in Europe or another country based upon her unique, ground breaking and laudatory scholarly achievements.

Julia however, like many in the field of events management, marched to her own drum. Her greatest devotion was to her husband Larry and upon his death she suffered from great sadness and depression until she was finally able to join him once again.

The term immortality literally means eternal life and therefore being exempt from death. Scientists now believe that some species actually achieve biological immortality. I believe that Julia Rutherford Silvers, through her pioneering research and writing, inspired teaching and loyal friendship with so many, for so long, from all over the world, has now achieved human and biological immortality through permanently transmitting her elegant model for event management to future generations.

I am also certain that immortality would not really matter to Julia because her motivations were purely and simply to improve the practices for event managers throughout the world and to finally be reunited with her beloved husband Larry. She has achieved both.

Julia Rutherford Silvers is the author of Professional Event Coordination, First and Second Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc) and Risk Management for Meetings and Events (Routledge).

3 thoughts on “Immortality was Her Gift, A Tribute to Julia Rutherford Silvers

  • April 28, 2020 at 8:27 pm

    Joe – thanks for spreading the sad news (which I would have missed otherwise) and thanks also writing this wonderful tribute to an educator who made the complexity of Event Management theory globally understandable. I will always be grateful for the EMBOK illustration that has enabled me to not only open my own eyes but has also enabled me to introduce a whole new way of much needed thinking about events to so many stakeholders and decision makers.

  • May 3, 2020 at 6:46 pm

    Very sad news Joe. Clearly a very special person, who has contributed a huge amount. Though, as you suggest, it may not have motivated her, Julia’s work certainly lives on in our teaching, and in the professional actions of thousands.

    • May 26, 2020 at 6:38 pm

      I agree Aaron. Thanks for your kind comment.


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