Mentors matter: Jayhawk pays tribute to mentor, champion and friend

Posted on Jan 17, 2018 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

Thomas R. Docking and Marc Langston

Last November, we encouraged Jayhawks to thank the KU mentors who made a difference in their lives. Marc Langston was inspired to pay tribute to his friend and mentor, Thomas R. Docking, c’76, l’80, g’80, who died last August. Langston, c’08, currently resides in Washington, D.C and is an annual member of the KU Alumni Association.

Internship leads to mentor

During high school, I was a summer intern at the Law Offices of Morris Laing in Wichita. Within my first week, Tom treated me to lunch. We discovered a mutual passion for politics, film, art history and Kansas. Over the course of that summer, I gained a mentor, a champion, and a true friend.

Tom held great interest in my aspirations and willingly shared his sagacity with a receptive 17-year-old. Tom persistently encouraged me to attend his alma mater, KU, versus other out-of-state schools I considered. I knew then how fortunate I was to be counted among his friends, but I could not imagine how profoundly influential Tom would be in my life. Thankfully, I heeded his advice and attended KU.

Influential mentorship

Tom’s daughter, Margery, was already at KU, and we enjoyed attending events together at the Dole Institute of Politics. Tom encouraged me to continue exploring the intersections between politics and art history. I earned a B.A. in political science and art history. He was thrilled when hearing from me abroad while I explored Turkey and Egypt, always eager to discuss my impressions of places he too admired. When I became involved in Student Senate and Kansas politics, I frequently sought Tom’s advice and counsel.

Tom’s mentorship proved extremely influential while at KU as well as during and after law school. Tom kept track of my progress, changes in my career, and continued to offer sage advice in times of need. My inbox is full of emails from Tom arranging times to meet when I would be in Wichita. I envisioned being able to continue to share my ups and downs with my friend and mentor, Tom, for at least the next 20 years.

An enduring legacy

Tom’s passing in August 2017 jolted those who were privileged to be mentored by him. We all know that Tom is survived by a loving family with an earnest love for KU. Although few of us are in a position to match the generous contributions made by the Docking family toward scholarships, faculty retention, and improvements to the campus, I elected to join the KU Alumni Association.

By supporting KU, even in this small way, I am taking the first step in furtherance of Tom’s enduring legacy of mentorship. I encourage others to follow Tom’s lead in continuing their support of KU and serving as mentors to prospective, current, and alumni Jayhawks.

Want to share your story about a Jayhawk who inspired you? Email us at share@kualumni.org. And stay tuned—the KU Alumni Association will launch the Jayhawk Career Network this spring, which will provide additional mentorship opportunities for students and alumni.

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