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Dr. Margaret Webster passes away; Knox College expresses condolences

Dr. Clara Margaret Webster passed away on Saturday, November 18, 2017, at Highview Residences, London, Ont. Daughter of the late Reverend G. Carlyle and Mrs. Clara Webster. Dr. Webster was Principal of Ewart College, Toronto, from 1958-1983. Ewart College, initially begun as a women’s college of the Presbyterian Church, was merged with Knox College in 1991.

Knox College Principal John Vissers gratefully recognizes Dr. Webster’s significant contributions to the Church. He said, “As a student, I had the privilege of studying Christian education with Dr. Webster. She played a vitally important role in shaping an entire generation of deaconesses and ministers for the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Since Ewart College was amalgamated with Knox College in 1991, Dr. Webster’s legacy of teaching and leadership lives on, in the students she taught, and in the passion for education and formation that she instilled in us all. We remember with gratitude this servant of the Church.” 

In response to Dr. Webster’s resignation as principal, the 109th General Assembly noted: “While Principal at Ewart, Dr. Webster has initiated many significant developments in the life of the College. During these years, the name was changed from The Presbyterian Missionary and Deaconess Training School to Ewart College . . . . Ewart College became co-educational during the years 1965-1970. The faculty grew in number from two people to four. New Degree-Diploma programmes were introduced in 1970. Commencing in 1963, Continuing and Lay Education programmes were instituted on an annual basis.

“All the time that Dr. Webster was providing the impetus for these changes, she continued to further hew own education. Dr. Webster earned a Master of Education Degree in 1965 and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in 1975, both from the University of Toronto. The Presbyterian College, Montreal, conferred on her a Doctor of Divinity Degree (honoris causa) in 1970. . . . Nor has Dr. Webster’s involvement been limited to Ewart College and our own Church. She has been involved in the Christian Education scene on the North American continent, serving recently as President of the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education. She has been Seminary Liaison of Joint Educational Development and Chairperson of the Seminary Task Force for JED. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Religious Education Association. In February 1983, The Association of Presbyterian Church Educators presented Dr. Webster with the award of Church Educator of the Year.“

In 1983, contributions were made to Ewart College to honour Dr. Margaret Webster for her faithful contribution to the Presbyterian Church through her 25-year service as Principal of Ewart. In this way,  the Board established a scholarship for graduates undertaking study in Christian Education outside of Canada. In 1985, the Board of the College named Dr. Webster as Principal and Professor of Christian Education Emeritus.

A memorial service will be conducted at Harris Funeral Home, 220 St. James St. at Richmond, London, on Thursday, November 23, at 11 am. Reception to follow. Committal at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, London. Memorial contributions may be made to Presbyterian World Service and Development, 50 Wynford Drive, Toronto, ON M3C 1J7.