In Memoriam: Rebecca “Becky” Brewster Irving ’42

Rebecca “Becky” Brewster Irving ’42, of Sunapee, N.H., died Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021 — 10 days prior to her 101st birthday — following a brief period of declining health.

Becky was a vibrant part of the Colby-Sawyer community for more than 80 years, having first arrived on campus in 1939 to enroll in the college’s state-of-the-art medical technology program. She earned an associate degree in 1942 and a bachelor’s degree in 1943, and returned to the college 12 years later to teach — and eventually head — its medical technology program.

“Becky was truly one of a kind and had a significant impact on hundreds of medical technician students at the college,” Colby-Sawyer President Susan D. Stuebner said. “She devoted her career to building a highly successful medical tech program that had a national reputation. She loved teaching her students and the college very much.”

Prior to her hiring at Colby-Sawyer, Becky was employed as assistant chief technologist at New England Hospital in Boston, and later, as a medical technologist for Institute Inter-American Affairs (IIAA). As part of her role with IIAA during the height of World War II, Becky was deployed to the Dominican Republic to train local medical professionals on the detection of malaria in anticipation of the war reaching that region.

In 1978, Becky was rec­ognized with Colby-Sawyer’s Alumnae Service Award, and in 2016 — 34 years after she retired from teaching — she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in recogni­tion of the positive, far-reaching conse­quences her life’s work brought to the college. In 2014, at the recommendation of her former students, the Rebecca “Becky” Irving ’42 MT Scholarship Fund was established in honor of Becky’s many contributions to Colby-Sawyer and to those she taught. Scholarships are awarded annually to students enrolled in a health care-related major whose values reflect Becky’s strength and integrity.

Becky was also an avid sailor and handywoman, who could often be seen restoring wooden fences and replacing railings outside New London, N.H., storefronts.

A memorial service for Becky will be held Wednesday, Sept. 8 at 11 a.m. at West Part Cemetery in New London. The service will be presided over by the Rev. Barbara Cavin ’71, one of Becky’s former medical technology students.