Rev. Dr. George Henry Hermanson

20-May-1939 - 02-Feb-2021

Obituary Overview

Rev. Dr. George Henry Hermanson


It is with profound love and a deep appreciation for a life well lived that we announce the death of the Rev. Dr. George Henry Hermanson on February 2, 2021.

His extraordinary company will be missed by his wife the Rev. Suzanne Sykes; children: Craig and Jeremy (Diane); grandchildren: Gavin, Naomi, William, Olivia; brother Donald (Christine); as well as numerous relatives and friends.

George was born in Regina, the first-born son of Elof and Ethel (much better known as Hermie and Peggy). His early years were spent with the McTavish Street boys. Their friendship would endure for a lifetime and their stories would entertain generations.
His university education commenced in his birth province at the University of Saskatchewan.

George’s academic career was briefly interrupted when it was suggested his love of bridge may be interfering with his studies. After a sojourn in Fort Vermilion with the Presbyterian Church, he returned to higher education and completed his BA at UBC.
In 1964 and newly married to Wendie Reinhardt, George began Seminary studies at Knox Presbyterian College at the University of Toronto. George soon felt called to adjust course and he transferred to the University of Chicago where he earned his Masters in Ethics and Theology at Chicago Theological Seminary in 1967. In Chicago, George found a powerful mix of theology and social justice and took an active role in the Civil Rights Movement. The experience reinforced and further developed what would be a life-long dedication to social justice issues.

Ordained in the United Church of Canada, George began his ministry in Castlegar, BC and in 1970 was hired as the UCC Chaplin at UBC where he influenced many young lives and developed deep bonds. A year of sabbatical would take George and his family to southern California where he would complete his doctorate at the Claremont School of Theology. His doctoral work was an interdisciplinary exploration of the self as agent using Process Theology, Sociology, Psychology and current issues.

In 1984 George would become the Director of the United Church’s Five Oaks Retreat Centre in Ontario. It was at Five Oaks where George met Suzanne and they married in 1992. Together they would bring process theology to the congregations they served throughout the province and for all who gathered at their table. After George's formal retirement, he and Suzanne formed the Madawaska Institute where they would both lead seminars and form lasting friendships.

In the fall of 2019, George and Suzanne moved to the coast to be close to family and friends and to enjoy harbour and coastal mountain views from a waterfront Nanaimo condo.

George’s full life moved from place to place and circle to circle, always including and building from moment to moment. Our family has been touched by your messages and expressions of what a powerful and altering force George has been in so many lives.
George would often use jazz to help explain his theological views. He marvelled at the creative act in improvisational jazz, where the relationship between the players creates the music and the sum always proved greater than the parts. God sets down the melody and we improvise.

A deep thank you to all who joined with George in making music.
At George’s request a service and gathering will occur when circumstances allow.

Posted by Mary Elizabeth Moore | 02-Mar-2021

Suzanne, I lost touch with you and George and have been very sad about that. I made a couple of failed efforts to find you. I love you both! I have many happy memories with the two of you. I remember the year when George was in Claremont, and we had long, probing, and playful conversations about process theology. Then, Allen and I had the great privilege of leading a course in Five Oaks - a special place that George and you and others had made into a wonderland of relationships, deep thinking, and future visioning. The most awesome memory of all was when Allen and I stayed in your home overlooking the mighty river and meeting your quite awesome friends and colleagues. You had invited me to lead a seminar, which was one of the most enriching experiences of my life, and you and George completely reshaped your home so Allen could have access and ease of living in his wheelchair. Your hospitality in those days was astounding, and it marked us. George was a man of overflowing joy, profound insight, musical pizzazz, and deep care. Suzanne, I am especially thinking of you today, as you and George had a magical relationship. Blessings and peace to you, dear one! ---Mary Elizabeth Moore

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Posted by Steve Lawson | 11-Feb-2021

My sincere condolences to Suzanne and family. I have so many good memories of our Monday morning Process Theology gatherings at your house in Madawaska, good conversation and learning, good food and drink, and good friendship. My introduction to process thinking by both of you has indeed changed my life forever in a good way. . My thanks to George for an endearing friendship while I was at the Ottawa Presbytery. My thoughts are with you every day.

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