Henry Fawcett, age 86, died peacefully on May 11, 2019, at Bethany Home in Dubuque, where he resided for the past two years.
A reception for family and friends will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 10, at the Heritage Center, University of Dubuque. On Tuesday, June 11, a Witness to the Resurrection service will be held at 11 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church, Dubuque.
Henry Fawcett, of the Tsimshian tribe, was born in Metlakatla, Alaska, on June 24, 1932. He grew up in the Presbyterian Church there and at age 13, felt called to ministry. He is a graduate of Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka, Alaska, and also served on its staff and later as a trustee. He married VeNita Ellen Peterson, of Kent, Washington, on November 23, 1956. He was a part-time commercial fisherman until one of his own sermons convicted him to become a pastor full-time. He was ordained by the Presbytery of Alaska on July 2, 1963.
Henry was known for his sense of humor, his gift for “encouraging” people to seek their highest calling, and his willingness to have hard conversations when they needed to be had. He was grateful to be a pastor in Alaska, Nebraska, Minnesota and Washington state where he also had a street ministry and special contacts with Native Americans.
He became the Moderator of Mankato Presbytery in Minnesota in 1973 and was the final Moderator of Alaska Presbytery when it became part of the Presbytery of Northwest Coast in 2014.
He served at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in Dubuque, from 1986 through 2003. He was called to “be himself” as the Pastor to Students with an emphasis on the training of the heart. He was also the Director of the Native American Program at the seminary. After retiring in 2003, Henry served in several capacities until 2016.
Throughout those years, he joined Cecil Corbett and Ralph Scissons as one of the “Three Musketeers” who advocated for the rights of Alaska Natives and Native American peoples. They worked with the Native American Consulting Committee, and were also involved at Charles Cook Theological School in Tempe, Arizona. They emphasized the work of lay people and the bringing of theological education to those unable to attend seminary.
Henry was on the Presbyterian Brief Statement of Faith Committee where he suggested the line about “hearing the voices of peoples long silenced.”
He received two Doctor of Divinity degrees, one from Buena Vista College, Storm Lake, Iowa, and the other from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.
Henry felt that funerals are an opportunity to share the resurrection when people are most receptive. He loved to sing, often leading groups in the singing of the Lord’s prayer, a Cappella. He enjoyed spending time with children and youth, and was honored to have nine namesakes named Henry or Eli. Henry and VeNita, his wife of 62 years, had no biological children, but they were delighted with their extended family, which includes many who call him Dad, Grandpa, Uncle, Mentor, and Friend.
He was preceded in death by his mother, (Helen Bush), his father, (Henry Fawcett), his uncle and aunt who raised him, (Elijah and Louisa Fawcett), his eight siblings, three nephews and one niece.
We wish to thank the staff at Bethany and the Hospice group who went the second mile to care for Henry.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the University of Dubuque Student Scholarship Fund #1342.