Cross-Cultural, Urban, Reformed, Ecumenical

Lives Well Lived, and Wonderfully Presented

12-01-2020 by

Dr. Ken Sawyer

Good News from Philadelphia!

News of much admired members of the extended McCormick community. Retired faculty Dick Poethig is anticipating the end of quarantine and the beginning of a new presidential administration. Dick now lives in Philadelphia, having relocated from Chicago following the 2018 death of his beloved spouse Eunice Blanchard Poethig (McCormick '75 and '77). In these sometimes dark days of pandemic, Dick continues his writing projects, looks after his remarkable family in their various vocations and ways (and they are looking after him), paints and does some modest plant maintenance, and looks to better days ahead for this country under President Biden.  

In over six decades together, both Dick and Eunice proved to be caring ministers, prolific writers, powerful advocates, thoughtful correspondents, exemplars of hospitality, and effective scholar-activists. Dick and the legacy of Eunice continue to contribute, aided by the caring and attentive curating work of their family. The life and work of Eunice Poethig is featured in the current issue of the Presbyterian Historical Society newsletter, drawn from her papers there. Her family roots reach back to the first settlers in New England, and the family story tells of Colonial and early National America, through revivalism, abolitionism, women's suffrage, social gospel and civil rights advocacy and LGBTQ rights. Eunice's own life and career also tracks to postwar second-wave feminism and her leadership in a new generation of women in local, judicatory, and national ministry. After fifteen years in mission in the Philippines, Dick and Eunice and family settled in Chicago. Dick joined the McCormick faculty and directed the Presbyterian Institute of Industrial Relations and the Institute of the Church in Urban-Industrial Society. Eunice returned to the classroom, earning her Mdiv (1975) and STM (1977) at McCormick. Eunice was ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament in 1979, and served as Associate Executive of the Presbyterian of Chicago (1979-1985), Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of Western New York (1986-1993), and then as Director of the Division of Congregational Ministries for the Presbyterian Church (USA) from 1994-1998. She also earned a Phd at Union Seminary (1985) with a dissertation, "The Victory Song Tradition of the Women of Israel." Eunice was a powerful witness and worker for justice, for equity, and for graced mercy.

Dick and Eunice are remarkable witnesses. These links illustrate lives well lived, and stories well presented!

The Presbyterian Historical Society feature is at:

Eunice's wikipedia page is at:

Dick's website is at:

Dick's podcast, "On the Sidewalks of New York" is at:

I was able to visit Dick in October of 2019, while in Philadelphia teaching a DMin course with colleague Dae Sung Kim (photo attached)

-- Ken Sawyer