Dr. Edwin William (Ed) Webking. The University community offers its most sincere condolences to the family, friends colleagues and many students of the late Dr. Ed Webking, a veteran Political Science professor and civil rights activist and advocate, who passed away Thursday, February 28, 2013 at age 76.
Edwin William Webking Jr. was born on April 25th, 1936 in Butte Montana, son of Edwin William Webking Sr. and Lelah Violet Rice Webking.
Edwin married Helen Martin (Tacoma) in 1959 in Los Angeles, California. They were happily married almost 40 years. Edwin is survived by brother Paul John Webking (Tacoma) and sister George Anna Lila Jackson (Hayden), his children: Nicholas Michael Webking (Lethbridge), Jennifer Lee Webking (Puyallup) and Tanya Webking (Tacoma); and grandchildren: Danielle Quiring Webking (Saskatoon), Jamieson John Webking (Puyallup), Garrison William Webking (Puyallup) and Addison Lee Webking (Puyallup). Edwin was preceded in death by his father, Edwin William Webking Sr. and his mother Lelah Violet Rice, and his oldest sister Martha Lelah Peront.
Edwin grew up in Butte Montana where he graduated from high school before moving to California to pursue his post-secondary education. Edwin obtained his B.A. from Pepperdine University (1958), M.A., from University of California State University of Los Angeles (1964), and Ph.D. from Claremont University (1971). Edwin started his teaching career as a Professor at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, Alaska in the political science department in 1966.
Ed joined the U of L faculty in 1969. Though he retired officially in 1997, he continued teaching until 2011. He was known as a consummate teacher who lived what he taught–-passing on his passion for activism to many of his students.
Ed was was involved in many facets of life at The U of L: Faculty Association (President 1973), Board of Governors, Department Chair, GFC, Co-ordinator of Co-operative Studies, and, in retirement, the U of L Retired Faculty Association (President 2003-2008).
External to The University, Ed was deeply involved with human rights: with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, World Citizens Centre, Amnesty International, and the Lethbridge Citizens Human Rights Council which was formed in reaction to local concerns about the use of corporal punishment in public schools. This led to a successfully lobbying campaign by the Lethbridge association against the school board to have the regulations for corporal punishment removed.
He served as the Chair of the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre and was the recipient of the Province of Alberta Human Rights Award in 1994–-an award he found interesting to receive since he had been a widely published critic of some of their efforts. One of Ed’s proudest accomplishments was his written contribution to the Charter of Human Rights in 1982, which was signed into Canadian history by Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
Ed was an active member of the broader community in Lethbridge, serving on the board of the Southern Alberta Council for Public Affairs and with the New Democratic Party for many years, including running as a provincial candidate (Lethbridge West) in 1986.
He brought this passion for civic advocacy to the classroom. A former student described it as ‘civism’:
“He told us to go volunteer and then write about it. What a wonderful experience and way of connecting politics to the world around us. I took a seminar class (4000s) on Human Rights the class became incredibly close after he took us all to a movie (Mississippi Burning) and then to his house to bake bread."
"In one class he told an incredible tale of having gone to the South in the 1960s to register black voters. He faced danger because of his convictions and it was that commitment to his convictions that was so influential to his students. We knew that with Ed you had a guy who more than just a pointy-headed teacher, he was a practitioner who had really lived his life's work.”
A long-time colleague described Ed as being determined to be the best instructor he could be. “His greatest challenge during the years I worked with him was his health, and upon occasion, he was stalled in being around the classroom and students as much as he dearly wanted to be.”
“Even up until his final class, he came however he could to be present to do his duty. He had a very dry sense of humour, and this often appeared in student comments on his course evaluations. There were students over the years who would visit with him in his office just to discuss politics and he enjoyed those conversations very much. He especially loved American politics, being he was American-born, and he was instrumental in designing a course on Russian politics.”
A student comment on the Ratemyprofessor.com website summed up Ed as being “…very vocal about his opinions but respects others and allows the class to give their opinions and challenge his. Learned tons, and not just about the course material.”
A Funeral Service was held in Lethbridge, Alberta at SOUTHMINISTER UNITED CHURCH at 1011- 4th Avenue South on Saturday, March 9, 2013.
Lois Punton gave a wonderful sermon.
In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial donations can be made to the Lethbridge Food Bank Society, 1016-2 Avenue S, Lethbridge, AB T1J 0C9, or charity of their choice. Condolences may be sent to the family through Christensen Salmon Generations Funeral Home Ltd. 703-13 Street North Lethbridge, AB T1H 2T2 Phone: (403) 382-3601 Fax: (403) 320-1492