Unfortunately I could not attend the memorial service for Professor Eric Ives as I had to travel to attend a family funeral, but Lucy Churchill, who you may know from the beautiful replica Anne Boleyn medal she makes, has kindly written this article for us. Thank you so much, Lucy.
Eric Ives’ memorial service was held last weekend at Warwick School (where he had been a governor for many years).
It was “a celebration of a life of joy and laughter”, in the words of Sue Ives, Eric’s daughter and a lay preacher, as she opened the service. Indeed I have never seen so many merry faces or heard so many gales of laughter at a memorial.
It will be a surprise to those who knew Eric only as a Tudor historian, and the foremost champion of Anne Boleyn, that she was only mentioned once, in passing. Though we revere his work, it was clearly only a small aspect of this energetic, thoughtful man’s life; Eric the Academic, the Governor, the Churchman, and the Family Man were all discussed with equal praise and affection.
Listening to the reforms he pushed through and the projects he initiated, one was left wondering how he found the time to attend to and support so many individuals. Apparently he never considered himself to be a ‘people person’, and yet he so clearly was. The headmaster of Warwick School said that Eric’s manner brought the words of Mother Theresa to mind:
“You are not called to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.”
It was said that he had the gift of “making the complex accessible to all”, and that he had the mind of a scientist. Sure of the strength of his research, he went forward with great conviction. Eric’s son John told of how his students had put a poster on his door saying “I always look at both sides of an argument – my side, and the wrong side”. Eric took great pleasure in this jibe.
As a churchman, Eric was very keen to establish dialogue between the different faiths. His deep religious certainty looked over small differences, as he sought to advance the whole. It was this same quest for truth and understanding that motivated his academic work, and from the Bible, Paul’s words to Timothy were brought to mind:
“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.”
Eric Ives accomplished a great deal in his life, and has left many who regret his passing. I came away with a sense of a life well lived, and happiness to have had contact with such an inspiring man.
Photos used with permission of Sue Ives.