October 19, 2012 | Matt Kucinski

The business department held a reception to honor Margaret Edgell for her work in September, 2010. (She's pictured here with business department chair Leonard Van Drunen.)

“A very loving and nice person.” 

“Unifying, not divisive.”

“A calming presence in the room.”

These are just a few phrases that Calvin College faculty and staff chose to describe former Calvin professor of business Margaret (Sampson) Edgell.

“A woman of prayer.”

“Devoted to students.”

“An encourager.”

Those are a few more.

On Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012, Edgell died at her home in Seattle, Wash., after a lengthy battle with ovarian cancer.  John, her husband of seven years, said that she went home gently and sweetly to her first love.

Edgell, 55, joined the Calvin community in 2002. She taught in the business department for seven years before taking medical leave from the college in 2009 to move back to Seattle to be closer to family.

“She was a gem, the person I aspire to be,” said Kathy De Mey, reference librarian at Calvin College.

“She was pretty amazing,” said Susan Camp, administrative assistant in the business department. “She was gentle and kind and had a deep and abiding faith that was inspirational to all of us.”

In her short time at Calvin, Edgell had quite an impact on her colleagues. They remember her as a “gifted mentor,” “a passionate teacher” and “a very committed Christian.”

Finishing strong

Those in the business department describe her as a great ambassador for the department and for the college.

“When I think about Margaret, I think about the word ambassador,” said Leonard Van Drunen, chair of the business department. “That’s what she did the last few years, and she was amazingly productive.”

Van Drunen said that fighting cancer could make someone bitter or cause someone to check out, but he said “you just never saw this in Margaret.”

Van Drunen was impressed by Edgell’s work in the last few years. In 2010, she presented a paper on higher education finance policy at a conference in Switzerland. In 2011, she co-authored a scholarly book on educating professionals via moral formation. And, just this year, the Christian Business Faculty Association honored Edgell with the prestigious Sharon Johnson Award, recognizing her God-honoring intellectual contributions to incorporate learning, business and faith into a dynamic process in Christian higher education.

“She was everything you’d want in a colleague,” added Van Drunen.

Building community

Those outside the business department were just as fond of Edgell.

“She was so good at including people and also about bringing people together,” said De Mey, who remembers her talks with Edgell during salsa lessons, yoga classes and cross country skiing trips through her church.

“One of the greatest blessings of my life is that I got to live with her and got to see the depth of her faith in every area of her life,” said English professor Linda Naranjo-Huebl, who lived with Edgell before she married John in 2005. “It was a joyous, joyous time, the time that we spent together.”

Heading home, leaving a legacy

While Edgell connected with many within the Calvin community, she spent the final moments of her life with her husband John. He wrote in his update to the Calvin community just days before her passing his response to her defying medical odds: “OK, Love, I’m with you. I’ll just hold your hand and chat with you and maybe sing a song or two and give you kisses until you do … decide to go home to glory.”

Edgell’s legacy will live on in the hearts of those who knew her. And also through the Faith at Work Prize, which she established in 2011, to honor and reward students who inspire other students to conduct their business in accordance with the Christian faith. In lieu of flowers, John requested that friends of Margaret consider donating to her Faith at Work Prize scholarship fund.

A memorial service for Margaret Edgell will be held at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4 at Wallingford Bible Fellowship in the Wallingford sector of Seattle, Wash.

Educational and professional experience

Edgell earned a BA in international relations from Stanford University, an MA in international affairs from Columbia University, and her PhD in 2009 from the Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education (HALE) program at Michigan State University. She was the founder and president of International Economics, Inc., and a co-founder of the Northwest Christian Writers Association.

Prior to her work at Calvin, Edgell was an adjunct professor in the School of Business and Economics at Seattle Pacific University. She also spent nine years at the U.S. Treasury Department as an international economist/trade specialist, where she developed and negotiated government industrial policy in finance. She was the founder and president of International Economics, Inc., consulting in export-import business, high-tech management, accreditation and practice of business education, writing and editing.

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