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Pastor, professor Dr. Henry Fawcett dies at age 86

Emeritus seminary faculty member remembered for a life lived with authenticity, compassion

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Dr. Henry Fawcett, who died May 11, leads the singing of “It is Well with my Soul.” (Contributed photograph)

LOUISVILLE — Friends, family and former students are remembering the life of scholarship and service lived by the Rev. Dr. Henry Fawcett, who died May 11 in Dubuque, Iowa, at age 86.

Fawcett served as a pastor in Nebraska, Minnesota and Seattle, and was a professor at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary from 1986-2003, earning emeritus status after that. He was an accomplished mariner and was a trustee at Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka, Alaska.

“He was a preacher whose faith and words touched the heart,” wrote the Rev. David Dobler, moderator of the 205th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1993. “If Henry was asked to preach on Easter at a ‘vacant’ church, he would insist on coming for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter, for how could you preach the Resurrection without the Passion, and how could you visit the people if you only met them on Sunday morning? Time and people were holy.”

Dr. Corey Schlosser-Hall, executive presbyter for the Presbytery of the Northwest Coast, wrote on the presbytery’s website that Fawcett grew up in Metlakatla, Alaska.

“One of my fondest memories of Dr. Fawcett was his role in bringing together Alaska and North Puget Sound presbyteries in 2013-14 when he was serving as Moderator of Alaska Presbytery,” wrote Schlosser-Hall. “During a shared Presbytery meeting in Bellingham, Wash., in March of 2014 he opened our meeting together, officiated at the installation of our new presbytery’s Moderator, Rev. Kurt Helmcke, and then led us all in singing ‘It is Well with my Soul.’”

“Henry garnered the kind of respect given only to those who live lives of authenticity, commitment, wisdom and compassion,” wrote the Rev. Tom Patterson, calling Fawcett “a relentless advocate for the dignity, self-respect and civil rights of Alaska Native and Native American peoples his entire adult life … As an Alaska Native himself, he loved them. Relentlessly.”

A witness to the resurrection and a celebration of Fawcett’s life will be held at First Presbyterian Church, 1684 Iowa Street in Dubuque, Iowa, on June 11 at 11 a.m. Central Standard Time. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary Student Scholarship Fund 1342.

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