Knox College mourns the death of Ewart Principal The Rev. Dr. Irene Dickson
The Rev. Dr. Irene Dickson, past Principal and Professor at Ewart College, died Saturday, July 16, 2011.
A former high school teacher in Winnipeg, Irene joined the Ewart faculty shortly after her graduation from Knox College in 1965. She became Associate Professor and then Professor of Biblical Studies.
While working at Ewart, Irene continued to pursue her own studies, receiving her Master of Theology in 1972. She was ordained the same year. In 1983, she was appointed by General Assembly as Principal, a position that she held until Ewart’s amalgamation with Knox in 1991.
In 1989, Irene received the degree Doctor of Divinity (honoris causa) from Presbyterian College in Montreal.
Irene was formerly a member of First Presbyterian Church, Winnipeg, and Calvin Presbyterian Church, Toronto.
In her retirement, Irene focused on poetry writing and published a book of her poems entitled “87 poems from Irene aged 87.”
A funeral service will be held at Chapel Lawn Funeral Home in Winnipeg, MB, on Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 3:00p.m.
The thoughts and prayers of the entire Knox College community are with her loved ones.
The Rev. Dr. Irene Dickson, B. A., B.Ed., A.M.M., B. D.; M.Th.
Irene was a teacher all her life. As a young woman, she was a counsellor at Pioneer Camps and after graduating began teaching in a one room country school. She left a career at Calvin High School in Winnipeg to enter Knox College in 1962. I met her in the lobby of Ewart College at the beginning of term which was also the beginning of nearly 50 years of friendship. As we walked down to Knox each morning, Irene would tell me about the Bible passage she had read that day complete with insightful exegesis. I soon learned that this was a very intelligent and capable woman. When Irene graduated from Knox College in 1965 she was appointed as the Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Ewart College, eventually as a full professor and was ordained in 1972 to that position instead of a congregation which was unusual at that time. When Margaret Webster retired, Irene became Principal of Ewart College in 1983 and in 1984 I joined her there again as the Associate Professor of Christian Education. Irene was an excellent camper and really enjoyed showing the Ewart students how to live in the “wilderness” of Ryde Lake near Gravenhurst. Irene was instrumental in the Lay Education Program at Ewart which saw many scholars come to Toronto to share their wisdom with our church. Graduation was always a big event held at Knox College after which we would return to Ewart for the gracious receptions well attended by people from the church.
The students remember Irene as a great teacher and many have kept in touch all these years. I remember one of them telling me that Irene always came into the classroom with an arm full of books and would say “I just read the most interesting book last night and I need to share some of this with you.” At which point she would read them something from Walter Bruggermann or Norman Perrin or Abraham Heschel or other Biblical scholars of the time. When you taught at Ewart you were both the Old and New Testament professor. Irene had a deep knowledge of and love for both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.
Irene started her doctorate in Biblical Studies but never finished it due to a number of circumstances, but all the courses she took enriched her classes at Ewart College. Irene retired from Ewart College in 1990 with both anticipation of an easier life and sadness because at that point the church closed the College and sold the building. She proved to be an able administrator as well as an inspiring teacher, continuing to teach until she retired. It was where her heart truly was – in making the Bible come alive for the students who came to the College, helping it to speak to their minds and spirits with God’s Word for their lives.
-The Rev. Dr. Helen Goggin
Professor Emeritus, Knox College