Allan Strauss, a Public Safety officer who worked at Barnard for more than 27 years, died suddenly over the weekend of still unspecified causes, Barnard Dean Avis Hinkson announced in an email today. He was 59.
Colleagues and students remember Strauss—known to his co-workers as “Big Al”—as a valuable member of the Barnard community and a devoted father to his 13-year-old daughter, Allison.
Strauss joined Barnard in 1986 as a security dispatcher, but became a security guard the next year, working in various buildings and booths across campus. He also served as a union representative and executive vice president of TWU local 264, helping negotiate his colleagues’ salaries and contracts.
In Hinkson’s email, Barnard Chief Operating Officer Greg Brown said that Strauss was “well-known campus-wide and well-liked by all who knew him.”
“He was particularly congenial and helpful to the students, volunteering to assist student groups whenever they needed a hand,” Brown added.
His colleagues said that Strauss was always a warm presence on campus and had a great sense of humor.
Renee Singleton, a barista at Liz’s Place, said, “He always kept me smiling.”
“He always had a kind word and a joke to tell,” Barnard security guard Belinda Taveras said.
“Allan’s life was his daughter, then Barnard,” Taveras added. “We were his family.”
Charlie Grullon, Strauss’ longtime friend and co-worker at Public Safety, said that Strauss was “a living embodiment of the Barnard Bear.”
In addition to his public safety shifts, Strauss also volunteered at Barnard’s Athena Film Festival every year—something he loved to do, according to Taveras.
“He was a big movie buff,” she said. “He was really into the old classics—black and whites.”
Barnard students said that Strauss was a welcoming face on campus.
“He really humanized the position of security guard,” Danielle Deluty, BC ’14, said.
“Coming to Barnard in such an urban environment, one of the few things that makes it feel like a community is the people you see everyday,” Julia Leach, BC ’14, said.
Hinkson said that Barnard is planning to hold a memorial service in Strauss’ honor and that the college will announce the date soon.