(Note to the reader: I hope you are not called upon to bring remarks upon the passing of one of your students. If it must be so, I hope you have fond memories of the one to be remembered as I have.)
Evelyn Marsh Dowd
February 15, 1944 – March 30, 2016
On behalf of the university we express our condolences to the family of the late Evelyn Marsh Dowd.
The family has asked that I share brief remarks for the community and students. I shall speak of beginnings, middles, and endings with Rev. Dr. Evelyn Dowd.
Beginnings. I recall in the late 1990’s sitting in a cold basement classroom where cardboard was placed in the window. On one side of the desk I sat teaching a class on Existentialism, and on the other side of the desk Evelyn was seated. CAPE had given her a second chance at education, and she was preparing herself as an adult learner completing her undergraduate degree.
Middles. Evelyn got her degree and went on to receive a M. Div. degree in the 2000s. Then she began to teach as one of our adjunct instructors. At CAPE students developed a community of mutual support. We had several campus events through the year such as the Homecoming Tailgate, the MLK Jr. Breakfast, and the Senior Banquet. As I would survey the crowd that gathered I would find this student or that teacher missing. Among those present I would see front and center Dr. Evelyn Dowd and her husband. They had traveled the one hour and thirty-nine minute drive to be part of the community. They were giving back.
Middles again. After the husband had become ill and required home care, a conversation took place in the home between Evelyn and a caregiver. The caregiver said, “I would just love to have your job and teach theology.” Evelyn replied, “Child, if you want to do what I do, you will have to prepare yourself as I did. Talk to the Director, and get back into school.”
Endings. When we received news that Rev. Dr. Dowd had passed from this life on Saturday, the job fell to me to collect from the office her personal belongings to give to the family. On my office wall is a much admired certificate of appreciation from students. Visitors call attention to it. It says, “We love you.” That’s the kind of thing a teacher keeps in their office.
What do you suppose I found among the belongings of Dr. Dowd? I found atop the desk a delicate cut-glass candy dish reminding me of the lady we had lost. Inside a drawer was a bit of Mary Kay foundation to keep her perfect appearance. On the wall was a large bulletin board where Dr. Dowd’s certificate of appreciation was posted. It was buried under a mountain of greeting cards. There were birthday cards, get well cards, thank you cards, Christmas cards, and more. As I picked them off the board I saw three messages repeated over and over again. “Thank you Dr. Dowd.” “You’re awesome Dr. Dowd.” “We love you Dr. Dowd.”
Rev. Dr. Evelyn Dowd believed in giving back to the community. To prepare to make a contribution to the community she completed her education and received her Doctor of Ministry degree. What she gave back to the community was the gift of herself.
Thanks to her family for sharing with us Rev. Dr. Evelyn Dowd.
Remarks shared on April 6, 2016