Inside Track LINDA MALLON
Remembering Paulette Tino
WITH THE DEATH OF PAULETTE TINO in November, the U.S. actuarial profession lost another pillar. It
seems odd to phrase it that way since Paulette, a native Parisian, was French down to the marrow of her
bones. Although she lived more than half her life in this country, Paulette never lost her Gallic flair (or her
Paulette was an actuary with the Internal Revenue Service who served on
the Joint Board for the Enrollment of Actuaries (many times as its chairperson)
for more than two decades. In 2005, the
same year that she finally retired, at the
age of 81, Paulette became the first woman
to receive the Academy’s Robert J. Myers
Public Service Award.
I first got to know Paulette when I interviewed her for a profile that ran in the
July/August 2005 issue of Contingencies.
She was full of stories about growing up
in France in the interwar years, surviving
the Nazi occupation of Paris, following a
technical mathematical career at a time
when few women did, and emigrating
to North America (first Canada, then
the United States) when her husband,
Ovid Tito, a refugee from partisan battles
in his native Romania, became concerned
about the political situation in postwar France.
Looking back on her long actuarial career, Paulette was
only grateful. “I have liked very much what I was doing. It is
my element,” Paulette told me. “I have been allowed to speak
Paulette and I stayed in touch, even after she moved to a
retirement community in suburban Maryland. She would oc-
casionally give me a call, and we’d talk again about her past. She
had started jotting down some autobiographical notes, and she
wanted my editorial opinion. In 2008 she sent me a collection
of what she called stories but which were much more than that.
Rather, they were a collection of life memories, seasoned with
historical notes and philosophical asides. For someone who had
made her living using the left side of her brain, these stories
reflected Paulette’s surprising dexterity
with words and imagery.
She wrote movingly and at some
length, for instance, about her personal connection to Joan of Arc, who was
imprisoned in Beaulieu-les-Fontaines,
Paulette goes on to recount how after school, at her request,
her Uncle Louis showed her a thrilling picture of a Gaul from
a history book that he had won as a school prize in his youth.
“The book was opened for us to see Vercingétorix’s surrender to Julius Caesar,” Paulette wrote. “He is there standing,
young and handsome, his head thrown back, defiant. His hair
flows on his shoulders, his moustache is falling on each side of
his mouth below the chin. He chose to fight Rome (a hopeless
fight) and lost. That will cost him his life. He knows it. Death
he does not fear. A Gaul fears only that the sky would fall on
Bon voyage, my fearless friend.