Dr. Dickson Redd is no stranger to many of us who studied at the University of Liberia from the 1970s up to the beginning of the Liberian civil war. Dr. Redd also taught at the College of West Africa before the civil war. Dr. Redd, a Bio-Chemist, the Christian father of nine naturally born children, a father to many of his students, a loving husband to a woman I call, Sis Bridgette, and a man with Liberia on his mind is now no more. He will be missed by Liberia and thousands of us who were touched by his life.
Here, Dr. Redd is standing with his wonderful wife, Bridgette Redd of many, many years.
The Candle May Burn Itself Out and the Night May Be Upon Us, But the Heavenly Gates Have Been Flung Wide Open to Let In A Great Hero: Well done, My Good and Faithful Servant, Well Done.
Dr. Redd, as many of us students at the University of Liberia came to know the fatherly professor of Biology and Chemistry, was my mentor. He and his wife, Sis. Bridgette saw my husband and me grow up to become husband and wife, and even after we were married and having our own children, the both of them were often there when we needed them for advice and encouragement, for prayers, or just hot pepper soup and fufu in their home on the Old Road Sinkor in Monrovia. Sis Bridgette was a mother of nine children, and it would seem that she’d be too busy to stop and chat or to offer a word of advice because as we often would joke her, she was always having a new baby. But she’d hold a baby under one arm and with the other arm, put her arm around you, and often, Dr. Redd would be there, his eyes smiling, waging a finger, “Listen to her, Pat, she knows what she’s talking about,” he’d walk to the back of their home or into the room, smiling.
His passing is a very personal sorrow for me because of how much Dr. Redd and his family meant to my family and me. I recall my bridal shower at their home, the room filled with my girlfriends, family, and well-wishers, all women, and Sis Bridgette who had just had her second daughter, and of course, Dr. Redd, driven far from their home because there were way too many giggling college girls and women for a man to handle. All of the men, who were of course in the majority at this time in their family had taken cover somewhere while we laughed and talked and I pretended to be the cute bride to be among her girl soldiers. These were memorable years, and I am sure many other more serious Chemistry and Bio-Chemistry students have their own memories. My own husband has his own. This is indeed sad news. Blessed are those who leave their footprints in the sands to be remembered like Dickson Redd.
There was something charming about their relationship that every younger woman wanted the secret to. Every girl in the Varsity Christian Fellowship that I was a part of wanted to take something from that electricity which classified Sis Bridgette’s and Dr. Redd’s long marriage. If we knew the secret, we would steal it, I often thought. I knew so many of my friends who wanted a marriage just like the Redds, wanted the patience and the love they shared between them, wanted to have the beautiful babies they had, and most of all, we all wanted to have the God that these two lovely creatures had. Their home would go on to survive the civil war, years of being stranded in another country, of losing everything, would survive all of the losses of family and homeland and all that life had promised them. They would survive and raise so many children in the midst of this great loss.
Today is a sad day for Liberia. Dr. Redd was not simply a teacher; he was an innovator. His love for Liberia and for students took him to the TV screens in Monrovia during the week in better times i Liberia, and even though many of us who did not understand Chemistry could not follow what Dr. Redd was saying on TV, we were proud that someone we knew cared enough to be so innovative, teaching us Chemistry on TV.
The civil war drove Dr. Redd and his family to the US, where he had studied years before the war, and for the last almost twenty years, he clung on to life and family, to hope and to faith. Tonight as I wept with Sis Bridgette on the phone, I was reminded of how in our lives, there are so many heroes who help give us life. As a young woman in college in the late turbulent 1970s in Liberia, folks like Dr. Dickson Redd and his wife, Bridgette came to my rescue. Yes, in Africa, it does take a village to raise one child, and for me and for hundreds of other younger men and women, that village was made up of folks like Dr. Dickson Redd and his lovely wife. What is sad however, is that many of us who would have in turn become that village for his own children had to abandon that village for the Diaspora of America.
The idea of Diaspora is not just about being away from home. The idea of Diaspora is also about being cut off from your roots, from the village that has made you, from the people who made up that village, of not knowing where the village is when you need it or when you need to contribute to it, of being isolated from that connecting whole of the body, of having connections lost to you. I felt that sense of loss today when I got the news of Dr. Redd’s home going.
Many of us Liberians live day by day knowing that those we believe are still alive may actually be dead and those we believe died in the war may actually be alive. Today if you hear the news, you should know that a great man has left us. Dr. Dickson Redd, father of nine, Liberian Scientist and educator, the wonderful husband and mentor to many went home to be with the Lord on January 14, 2008, and was buried today, January 19, 2008.
I am a product of the many sacrifices Dr. Redd made as a Liberian educator in a country that was too broke to pay its professors, and in the midst of that scarcity, brought war upon its people. One of these days, I believe, we who believe in the resurrection of the dead in Christ will see Dr. Redd again. To Sis Bridgette and the children, I say “Never Mind Ya,” like Liberians say. “Let God heal your heart and dry your tears, yah.”
Announcement From the Family:
A loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, friend et al … We at FrontPageAfrica.com regret to announce the death of Dr. Dickson Redd. This sad event occurred at 5:45pm on January 14, 2008 in North Carolina.
Dr.Redd will be remembered by his children (both from his marriage and the many students of the College of West Africa and the University of Liberia).
Chappell’s Funeral Home; 555 Creech Road; Garner, NC 27529