In Memoriam–Philip Dedrick (1921-2001) Part 2

In Memoriam–Philip Dedrick (1921-2001) Part 2

By Susan Johnson

By Susan Johnson

Copy Editor

Phillip B. Dedrick came to Rockford College in 1948, following his experience at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago. Described as living a “quiet and unpretentious life,” he nevertheless kept busy learning more and sharing his knowledge with others.

He served on every one of the important faculty committees, the joint committee that designed much of the campus and the 1979 Presidential Search Committee. According to a citation he received, he was “the principal architect of the College’s art collection, which he helped assemble with single-minded devotion and guards with missionary zeal.” He was said to demonstrate “a remarkable relationship unique to the groves of academe–a symbiosis between teacher and student, between master and admiring colleagues, between a man and the institution he has come to symbolize.”

The Mary Ashby Cheek Award was named in honor of a former president emeritus and is intended “to recognize unusual service to Rockford College as exemplified in a non-alumni member of the Rockford College community.”

In 1984, Phillip Dedrick was chosen to receive this award because of his previous experience in collegiate studies, which he continued at Rockford College, calling on his vast store of knowledge to enrich students and faculty alike. While teaching at Rockford College, he pursued graduate study at the University of New Mexico, where he earned a master of arts degree, focusing upon art history in 1958. He had also studied with D.V. Thompson at the Courtauld Institute in London. Later, he studied at the Campbell Center, learning techniques for preservation and restoration of art. His past research efforts included the Melanesian cultures, American Indian arts and pottery of the Southwestern United States and Medieval and Renaissance painting techniques.

Dedrick also utilized summers and sabbaticals for collecting objects and ideas. He lectured widely at such institutions as Hamline University, the Penn State University, the St. Paul Museum, the School of Art Institute and at the Sydney, Australia School of Art.

After four decades of service to the college, in May 1987 he was honored with the title professor emeritus. The citation stated, “In anthropological terms, [those with this title] provide the tribal memory of this institution. But more importantly, in the words of Archibald MacLeish (the distinguished son of our distinguished former president): ‘It is they who thrust (us) forward like the breaking of a wave that never breaks but lifts and runs and reaches.”

That is why the faculty of Rockford College proudly conferred on Phillip Dedrick “the degree Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto.”

One of his friends, Richard Behr, stated before Dedrick’s death, “He has two colleagues who are still active–Andrew Langoussis and Bob McCauley… He has collected all his life, and his area of collecting has spanned a lot of different areas, but almost all are of an ethnic nature. At the Freeport Arts Museum, you will see his [American] Indian collection, which consists of a collection of pots, Kachina dolls and Indian baskets, all of which are fine examples which have appreciated a great deal in value… In addition to that, he collects textiles and articles from the South Pacific. Most of the material he has donated to the Freeport Arts Museum. He also donated some items to Rockford College and helped them amass their collection, which is quite extensive.

“His greatest contribution and the reason that there is so much interest in him is that he has taught art students for years and years, and because of that, he has truly had a great influence not only in Rockford, but around the world in the development of art… He was much loved by his students and has had a profound effect on those people who know him well. He has imbued them with an interest in art, and his love for art is so contagious that it has infected those who have contact with him. He is a very beloved individual, and I’ve had the pleasure of knowing him for many years. He has made my life brighter. He is an amazing guy.”

Repeated attempts to contact Andrew Langoussis and Robert McCauley were unsuccessful.

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