Passing of three former department members

May 28, 2019

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology faculty is saddened by the recent passing of three former members: two faculty and one head administrator.

Dr. Keith Dixon, Professor of Philosophy and Sociology (Feb 2019).  Keith was a member of the Department from 1975 – 1991, and served as Chair of the Department from 1976-1978. Obituary

Dr. Mary Lee Stearns, Associate Professor of Anthropology (March 2019).  Mary Lee was a member of the Department from 1975 until her retirement in 1993.

“Mary Lee was my PhD supervisor in 1978-1985, when I carried out research in the Old Massett community in Haida Gwaii for my dissertation on Haida symbols of social life and connections with the spiritual world during that time. This was a community where she had previously carried out field research in 1962 and 1965-66 with several of the elders I came to know. While at times we had different perceptions and interpretations of what people told us, I deeply appreciated how she was willing to listen; I also deeply appreciated her willingness to share ethnohistorical materials she had gathered, along with her own field-notes. Her 1977 ethnographic documentary Those Born at Masset, co-produced with her daughter Eileen Stearns, and currently being digitized at the Royal BC Museum, leaves a legacy of Haida life in the early 1970s, and of oratory and discourse among the generation of adults and elders who still spoke Xaad kil, the Haida language, but were just beginning to re-claim the visual and performance aspects of Haida culture which we now, 45 years later, take for granted.”

Dr.Marianne Boelscher Ignace, Linguistics and First Nations Studies, SFU, and Associate Member of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Jean Jordan, Head of Administrative Services (March 2019).
“Those of us who had the privilege of working with Jean deeply appreciated the invariably good sense, patience, and humour she shared with us. The grace and insight with which she guided us individually and as a department around the endless administrative pitfalls that thrive within a university was on a par with that displayed by Wayne Gretzky on the ice. Put more simply, by a former departmental chair (Bob Wyllie), “Jean was a wonderful lady and the mainstay of the department for many years. I know I could not have managed to do the Chair’s job without her.”

Dr. Noel Dyck, Professor, Anthropology, Simon Fraser University

"Jean was a dear friend and substitute mum at times as needed. She made the department feel like a family while keeping us all chugging along and managing the primadonnas and the paperwork-incompetent. I always remember how kind she was to me when my Mum died. Unconditional love!"

Dr. Marilyn Gates, Professor Emerita, Anthropology, Simon Fraser University

"I met Jean the first day I arrived in the SA department as a PhD student from a foreign country in 1978, and had the good fortune to benefit from her gentle but capable administration of the SA department not only as I completed my PhD, but as I subsequently became a faculty member teaching and coordinating in the University’s program with, by and for First Nations students in Kamloops, BC. She came for more than one of our annual convocations. Her deep interest in our work, unconditional support and kindness will always be remembered."

Dr. Marianne Boelscher Ignace, Linguistics and First Nations Studies, SFU, and Associate Member of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology