The University of Providence (UP) campus Library was recently the scene of a notable graduation. Interim President Fr. Oliver Doyle conferred an Honorary Degree in Education to Marjorie Gannon Dahinden for a lifetime of work in public, community and religious service throughout North Central Montana. Originally scheduled to graduate in May 1951, Marjorie left college one quarter short to teach at a one room country school near Sunburst, Montana. She planned to return and finish college, however life got in the way. She met her future husband and was soon married. Marjorie and her new husband then moved to begin their own wheat farm near Chester, Montana. For the next 45 years she would raise six children with an emphasis on and attention to faith, family and education. All six of her children would go on to graduate from college. Her two daughters were inspired to follow in her footsteps; they too attended UP and likewise became school teachers. Anna (UP ’74) taught for 37 years and Virginia (UP ’76) still teaches today in Box Elder, Montana.
When reviewing Marjorie’s exceptional life, the narrator said, “It doesn’t go unnoticed that her moral code, principles and providence stem from her formative years at CGF. Her wonderful life’s work has sadly never been formally recognized. It still haunts her today that she never returned to finish her last quarter and graduate from UP. Yet for decades she has persistently and bravely championed strong religious faith, the value of education and the benefit of participating in community service. Her contagious spirit, fairness, courtesy and civility have clearly been woven throughout her life and become an inspiration for all who have crossed paths with her”.
Father Oliver stated, “Marge may have thought that the opportunity to graduate was long gone and she dedicated herself to her family and community. Yet, God, with the cooperation of her family, intervened. This celebration of graduation is the result of that collaboration. And it should remind us, that our God is a God who teaches, that it’s not over ‘til it’s over! And that allows for great possibilities and is a source of our hope!”
During her acceptance speech, Marjorie said “She chose to continue her college education in an institution where education and faith coexisted.” She went on to say, “Receiving my college degree was something I gave up on 70 years ago! This is such a surprise and I’m truly humbled and thankful to the University of Providence.”
In attendance were 60 members of her family, UP faculty and UP alumni.