Carol Latta, 65: Decision Sciences Institute executive director

When Carol Latta joined Decision Sciences Institute in 1977, she had no idea she’d spend the rest of her life working for the academic association.

Since 1986 she served as the organization’s executive director and put every ounce of her energy into the growth of DSI, friends and colleagues said.

“I still recall my first interview with her and how she persuaded me that the low pay of a nonprofit professional association was more than made up for by working with smart, kindly academics and in an atmosphere conducive to raising a family,” said Hal Jacobs, who has worked at DSI for more than 20 years. “She was right. My life was much better for it.”

Carol Jean Latta, widely described as a people person, celebrated her 65th birthday on May 30. Though it was a day of celebration, she’d been dealing with some health challenges that dated back to her childhood. Latta’s younger sister, Diane Latta-Brandstaetter, of Atlantic Beach, Fla., spoke to Latta on her birthday and urged her older sister to seek treatment, but she’s not sure if that ever happened. Latta, of Atlanta, was found dead in her home on June 3. Latta-Brandstaetter suspects her sister died the day after her birthday.

A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. Saturday at H.M. Patterson & Son, Spring Hill Chapel, which is also in charge of cremation arrangements.

Born in Atlantic Beach, Latta came to Atlanta in 1970, after she graduated from Wesleyan College. Before taking a job with DSI, Latta worked at The Research Group, a social science research and consulting firm, under the tutelage of its founder, former state representative Gerald T. Horton, said her youngest sister, Kathi Rivers, of Macon.

Latta’s work at DSI gave 100 percent of her time and effort, her sister said.

“She was the consummate businessperson,” Rivers said. “Carol had it all, she was very smart, worked very hard and was very beautiful.”

Latta approached her job with a people first-type attitude, which further endeared colleagues to her, Jacobs said.

“Carol was old school, she preferred phone calls,” he said. “She actually wanted to reach out and touch someone, not just exchange information back and forth.”

He said Latta made the organization’s annual meeting was always a “high point” because of all of the work she put into the event.

“Carol was on call for every waking moment of four days,” he said. “Yet her infectious smile and attention to detail never wavered.”

In addition to her sisters, Latta is survived by several extended family members.