Dana Darwin Mallett Hummel is a retired research librarian and information technology specialist who had a diverse career with the military, U.S. Embassies and Washington D.C. think tanks. She assisted her husband who was the U.S. Embassy military attaché in several Hispanic countries. She was a member and distinguished president of the Fairfax County Public Library Board. Four large libraries were built under her leadership.
She was active politically and served as a delegate to a Virginia state convention. She was a leading fund raiser for two U.S. universities. She taught Spanish at high schools and English as a second language. In her retirement, over a 14-year period she was a board member and ten-year president of her condominium association. Athletically active from youth she mastered horsemanship, rock climbing, mountain climbing and taught skiing in Aspen, Colorado. In retirement she won a two-day women’s golf tournament. She is an excellent cook and has won many awards for her needlework including a sweepstakes ribbon at a Sarasota, Florida, major arts festival.
Dana Harriet Darwin was born in Oklahoma on May 4, 1935. She later moved to Colorado with her family, where she graduated from East Denver High School in 1953. There, she was awarded the school’s highest academic award, the Virgil Medal for Latin. In 1957, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in art history, with an emphasis in architecture, from Smith College. Shortly before graduation she was awarded a teaching fellowship at the Henry Francis DuPont Winterthur Museum.
After spending time teaching skiing in Aspen, Colorado, Ms. Hummel had the opportunity to travel to Scottsdale, Arizona, where Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural center, Talieson West, was located. After a meeting with Mr. Wright, he offered her a fellowship at his school, which she accepted. In November 1957, she got an interview at KRMA in Denver and was hired on the spot to work producing a series of educational programs that ran from December 1957 into 1958. When she returned to Aspen for the ski season, she met Cpt. Charles Stuart Todd Mallett, who would become her husband.
On September 6, 1958, she married Todd Mallett and joined him where he lived in Colorado Springs and she joined and became active in the Junior League. After living in Colorado Springs, they were sent to the Command and General Staff School at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, where her husband was promoted to major. There, he worked with various officers from foreign countries. Their first child, a girl, was born on August 12, 1959.
Shortly thereafter, the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, Gen. ‘Westy’ Westmoreland conceived and formed what was to be the military program known as the Foreign Area Specialist Training College. It was centered at the Army Language School at the Presidio of Monterey, California. His reasoning for the program was since the political power of many countries is in the hands of the military, not the president or other elected or appointed officials, U.S. Embassies should adjust to that reality. Thus, the U.S. military attaché section of embassies should be reinforced and improved. Mutual military experiences from the attaché section would be shared with the host countries’ military leaders and power holders to gain their trust and confidence. The military attaché section should be fluent in the language, culture and history of their assigned countries. As a result, embassies would be more admired and influential than before. The Malletts were tailor-made for the program.
Gen. Westmoreland had been Cpt. Mallett’s Eagle Scout leader when those two families were stationed at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. Dana loved languages and hoped she too could attend. However, the school was strict and had a rule that only the wives of general officers would be allowed to enroll. As luck would have it, the commandant of the school came from a family who were old friends of her husband’s family, and she was allowed to enroll. At that time the enrollment numbered about 26 men, ranging from privates to captains, majors and one general officer. The Malletts placed their daughter with a Portuguese woman nearby during the day so Mrs. Mallett could be at school all day for a year. In college she had taken French, so Spanish came a bit easier for her than other students. At the end of the year she and another officer were named the Top of the Class.
The other part of Westmoreland’s conception was that “part two” had them going to Stanford University, which is adjacent to the city of Palo Alto, California. There, they attended the Institute of Hispanic-American & Luso-Brazilian Studies under Dr. Ronald Hilton. With those two studies under their belts, each military family was assigned a different country in which to serve. Theirs was Mexico.
In Mexico, to expand her knowledge of Spanish culture she took several courses from three differing colleges. Furthermore, being the wife of a command or staff officer is demanding and she was called upon to provide entertainment in the form of dinners and dancing and other events, as well as keeping the wives of visiting dignitaries occupied with shopping tours, visits to historical places and sightseeing.
The Malletts’ activities were not confined to military matters, but were extended into the Mexican community as well. In this case it was through her membership in Junior League International which had a chapter in Mexico City. The League accepted her plan for a puppet theater performing in Mexico City orphanages. The show was the fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel, which was performed in October, 1962 and they continued with the show during their Panama assignments. Her husband was promoted to lieutenant colonel July 23, 1963. Also, during the Mexico assignment a second daughter and a son were born.
They moved to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, where her husband reported for duty in March of 1964. He was appointed as battalion commander of the 325th, 82nd Airborne. In August of 1965 they arrived in Panama for an embassy assignment. He was the military attaché. Their first Panamanian assignment ended July 2, 1966. The next tour of duty was at The National War College at Ft. McNair in the Washington D.C. area. It began in mid-August 1966 and included work at the Pentagon. Along with her distaff duties at the time there were household activities including the raising of their three children. At night she undertook postgraduate coursework at several institutions such as the Catholic University in Maryland.
In June of 1967, while at Ft. McNair, Lt. Col. Mallett received orders to proceed to the war in Vietnam. She, with the three children and Elena her nanny and housekeeper who had been with the family since their early days in Mexico City, traveled to Denver. There she applied to Denver University’s Graduate School and enrolled in its library and information science master’s degree. After school, the oldest child was involved with the Girl Scout Brownies. She completed the degree in one year and her husband was home to see her graduate.
The Mallett team’s second tour of duty in Panama followed in 1968. On top of the normal activities of being the wife of a commanding officer she elected to accept a paid job as head librarian at Howard Air Force Base. She also proposed to the Ambassador that the embassy get together with the Panamanian military and prepare a social event to include selected members of the host country. She also found time to volunteer and give aid to patients of the Palo Seco Leprosy Asylum in Panama. She brought food, clothing, anything she could find, to give to the sufferers of Hansen’s disease.
The Malletts left Panama on April 17, 1970. A two-year hitch at the Pentagon as a member of four-star Gen. Richard G. Stilwell’s staff followed. In addition, Col. Mallett was involved with the Inter-American Defense Board and its subsidiary the Inter-American Defense College where he taught. Mrs. Mallett performed the distaff’s military duties plus running a household and being a soccer mom before the phrase was invented in 1982.
In March of 1972 they went to serve in the U.S Embassy in Madrid, Spain. On a trip to Portugal, Mrs. Mallett visited a well-known needlework shop. She purchased a large one-meter square canvas and several smaller ones that originated from the island of Madeira. Designs were outlined and yarn colors indicated on each of the canvases.
In 1975, the Mallets returned to the United States from Madrid and resided in Falls Church, Virginia, which is included in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. As Col. Mallett was engaged with the National War College and the Inter-American Defense Board, she continued her distaff side military duties. She also placed the interests of her school age children ahead of her own. She did the best she could to give them the ‘tools’ to survive, thrive and hopefully prosper in whatever the future would be.
Once her children were older, she secured a position in Fairfax County as an assistant librarian at the Holmes Middle School. From there she switched to JEB Stuart High School in Falls Church, where she was a substitute teacher for mathematics, business classes, history, art and Spanish. She was active in the Falls Church Episcopal Church as a member of the Alter Guild, as a lay reader and a member of the vestry and its president. She also was one of the two paid secretaries for The Rev. John Yates.
Dana enrolled at the Northern Virginia Business School and became employed at The World Bank, where she was assigned to the African division. Overlapping with her professional occupations was her work in immigration. She had become aware that women who were brought into the U.S. by foreign diplomats, who had the right to be accompanied by staff and household servants, were often compromised by the diplomat. They escaped from their situation by fleeing into the Washington, D.C. area. She helped them find lodging, etc. while she working to get them home. In 1983 the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and Committee of Women bestowed a Special Achievement Award to Mrs. Mallett for helping those women.
Following her positions in The World Bank she was employed by BDM International, aka Braddock Dunn & McDonald, as a corporate librarian. She was instrumental in conceiving a bona fide Information Services Center in a time before the public knew of the internet. While employed by BDM, she was elected trustee of the Fairfax County’s (Virginia) Library Board and later became treasurer and president. Between 1979 and 1982, she distinguished herself as the president of the Ravenwood Civic Association. In 1981 she served as a delegate to the state convention in Williamsburg, Virginia, of a major political party. Continuing from that date until 1986 she was on several campaign staffs and assisted in election campaigns for state and national offices.
Among other altruistic activities in Denver, she was a major fundraiser for her alma mater, Smith College, in Massachusetts. In Virginia, she was also involved as a member of the Seven Corners Task Force, the Mason District’s Annual Plan Park Review Task Force, the Mason District’s citizen advisory panel on traffic at major intersections, and a local area citizen’s advisory group that focused on neighborhood crime prevention. Moreover, she found success as a board member and president of her local condominium association in Sarasota, Florida from 2004 through 2018. While president, she was involved in major building and landscaping projects. She continues to volunteer her efforts even today having raised, beginning in 2011, significant funds on behalf of the new Alfred R. Goldstein Library at The Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota.
After her first husband died, she married a widowed doctor, George Hummel in 1988 and they both retired to Sarasota, Florida. For four years they summered on Deer Isle, Maine. The large canvas she purchased in Portugal was retrieved and she stitched it on her lap during their roundtrip drives. But then, it lay in the linen closet because she was loath to frame and hang it on a wall. Finally, one evening, as they played bridge with a couple of ‘Old Mainers,’ the visiting husband offered to build a card table out of cherry wood and its top would display her work. Her job was designing it, locating and buying cherry wood Queen Anne legs along with matching wood, and then finding all the brass pulls for the drawers. Her needlepoint initials and the finished date, 1991, appear on a corner. In early March of 2018, she entered it in Sarasota Florida’s Festival of the Arts, where it was awarded The People’s Choice, the sweepstakes prize of the show.
Much of their social and retired life consisted of four to five games of golf a week. Their enthusiasm led them to join the Southern Seniors Golf Association that set up tours to golf resorts in other states. She made two separate holes-in-one followed later by a two-day ladies’ championship contest played August 23 and 24, of 1990 which she won. In 1997, Dana and George took three months of Italian to prepare for an intensive six-week course in that language at La Universita Italiana per Stranieri in Perugia, Italy. After a brief stay in Rome, they returned to Sarasota. Sometime afterward, Dr. Hummel developed a lingering illness which proved fatal. Mrs. Hummel cared for him for many months which included hospice at home. He died March 6, 2003.
Mrs. Hummel would like to be remembered as someone who did her utmost to make the world a better place. Knowing that she was able to help even one person made her feel that her efforts were worthwhile.