Marjorie Chambers, professor emerita of philosophy and religion at Mary Baldwin University, passed away Friday at age 89. She was a beloved member of the college community and a teacher passionate about her subject and her students.
Chambers began her 22-year career at Mary Baldwin in 1962, after earning her doctorate at Yale University. One of her letters of recommendation for the position shows that Chambers came to Mary Baldwin already an accomplished academic.
“At Yale she has done excellent work, and has established her reputation as being a very mature, stable, and competent scholar and teacher,” the recommending professor wrote.
Chambers’ involvement at Mary Baldwin went beyond the classroom to include service on the Advisory Board of Visitors and college admissions committees. She also helped develop a more “flexible, creative, and challenging” college curriculum in 1965 and served on the search committee that led to the hiring of Mary Baldwin President William W. Kelly after the retirement of Samuel Spencer in 1968.
In recommending Chambers for the position of academic dean, which she held from 1972 to 1974, Kelly wrote, “Dr. Chambers has long been one of the most respected faculty members at this college. We do not feel we could possibly have gained a more experienced person to give us the quality of academic leadership we must have in that office.”
Martha Gates-Mawson ’78 shared her fond memories of Chambers on Facebook. “I wish it were possible to adequately put into words the incredible impact Marjorie had on students and faculty alike,” Gates-Mawson wrote. “She was brilliant, humorous, sharing, talented, and, as far as I am concerned, the embodiment of a woman educated and educating in the liberal arts.”
When Chambers retired from Mary Baldwin in 1984, she pursued another of her passions: painting. Traveling with the Beverly Street Studio School in Staunton, she visited France, Italy, Maine and New Mexico. With several hundred paintings to her name, Chambers exhibited locally, including solo shows at Mary Baldwin University, the Augusta County Library, and the Co-Art Gallery in Staunton.
As noted in her obituary in The News Leader, a service celebrating the life of Marjorie Chambers will be held at 2 p.m. on January 14 at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 2001 North Coalter Street in Staunton. The burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Martha S. Grafton Library at Mary Baldwin University.