Dobek-Bell was part of the MIT community for 33 years, from her first job as an administrative assistant in the Office of the Corporation in 1979 to her retirement from the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship in 2012.
In reflecting with Nancy Kelly, former administrative officer in the Office of the President, in the early 1990s on the changes they had seen during their working lives, Dobek-Bell laughed, remembering the early years of starting the day by simply turning on the typewriter and opening the mail. Known for her poise, however, Dobek-Bell didn’t flinch from the “fire hose” that is life at MIT: Office of the Corporation colleague Susie Kendall remembers her as unflappable.
“Audrey loved MIT, and she saved the day on too many occasions to count,” she says. “To have worked with her was not just a pleasure, but an honor.”
Dobek-Bell had a great love of language, books, and travel, as well, interests that shaped her professional experiences. After graduating from the State University of New York at Fredonia and before coming to MIT, she taught in Spain, France, and the Netherlands, in addition to Eden, N.Y., and Williamstown, Mass. Dobek-Bell took a leave abroad after 16 years at the Institute, spending 1995 and 1996 with her husband in Madrid. This special experience strongly influenced her decision to return to campus in an administrative role at the newly created Entrepreneurship Center of the MIT Sloan School of Management (now the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship). While treasured by her colleagues and students for her warmth and charm, Dobek-Bell was especially beloved by those from Spain, for her presence made the center their stateside home.
With her excellent judgment and her deep knowledge of MIT, Dobek-Bell was a valuable asset to the launch of the Entrepreneurship Center. She drew key people into its work, contributing substantially to its spirit and to what became the first administrative team there. “Audrey embodied so much of what is great about MIT. Without her, the Institute would not have reached its tremendous levels of success in the area of entrepreneurship,” says Bill Aulet, managing director of the Martin Trust Center. He adds, “She is sorely missed but, as she had wished, her legacy will live on to benefit many students well into the future.”
Dobek-Bell died on Oct. 16, 2013, her 68th birthday. She is survived by her husband of 38 years, Gene Bell-Villada, three brothers, and a loving extended family.