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Philosophy and Religious Studies

Raeburne S. Heimbeck Obituary

Raeburne S. Heimbeck passed away peacefully at 1:00 pm on February 9, 2016 in Cottage in the Meadow, Yakima, WA. He was 85. Rae, as he was known to friends and colleagues, was born on September 25, 1930 in Rock Island, IL, grew up in Santa Monica, California, and graduated from Santa Monica High School in 1948. He was married to his high school sweetheart, Joye Marcoe Heimbeck, in 1953. Rae earned his B.A. (with Great Distinction), majoring in Philosophy and Mediaeval History, from Stanford University in 1952, and Masters of Divinity (Cum Laude) from Fuller Theological Seminary with concentrations in Theology and Biblical Languages in 1955. Afterwards, he returned to Stanford University to earn his Ph.D. in Philosophy and Humanities in 1963, with a dissertation in analytic philosophy of religion. He was a Fulbright Scholar at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand while writing his dissertation in 1958-59, and taught on the faculty of speech and drama department until his resignation in 1964. He then took a postdoctoral fellowship in Switzerland before undertaking to teach systematic theology at Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, Austin, Texas in 1965-66.


He came to Central Washington University in 1967 initially to direct the General Honors Program, fell in love with the Kittitas Valley, and made Ellensburg his permanent home. He became a professor of humanities and subsequently of philosophy and religious studies in the Department of Philosophy and remained there until his retirement in 1999. For 26 years, he was the only professor teaching and running the religious studies program at the university. He continued to teach courses in the department and the William O. Douglas Honors Program until 2008, and after that, continued to offer lectures on various occasions in the university and the local community. Rae was the first recipient of William H. Bonsall Visiting Professorship in Humanities at Stanford University in 1976, and was a visiting professor at Anhui University in China in 1985-86, 1988-89, 1997-98, 2004 and 2007. He was awarded the honor of PHI KAPPA PHI Scholar of the Year in 1993-94.


Dedicated, erudite, and popular, his reputation as a professor drew a large following among students in CWU and his classes sometimes exceeded 200 students. As a colleague, Rae was pleasant, modest, friendly, upright, and much-loved. He always exercised sound judgment and was willing to do more than his share of work. He was passionate for Chinese and Indian philosophies, religions, and cultures, and he was among the first CWU faculty to go on exchange with Anhui University in China. He was awarded the Huangshan Friendship Award for teaching excellence by Anhui Provincial Government in 1998. Along with his wife Cindy Krieble, whom he married in 1996, he had generously supported Chinese students in various ways. He also played a key role in the Ellensburg American-Sino community for several decades. Meticulous in scholarship, he was the author of the book, Theology and Meaning, first published in 1969 and then reissued by Routledge in 2013, and coeditor of the highly rated Classics of Asian Thought by Pearson Prentice Hall in 2006. At the time of his death, he just completed compiling an anthology of his other writings as a conclusion of his academic career.


Rae loved life and lived an active one. He was an avid swimmer, a vibrant cyclist, a skillful yogi, and a global traveler. With generosity and public-spiritedness among his many virtues, Rae was a regular donor to such organizations as Northwest Public Radio, and he endowed the CWU Philosophy & Religious Studies Founding Faculty Scholarship. He is survived by his beloved wife, Cynthia Krieble; sons, Bryn (Yoko) Heimbeck and Reid Heimbeck; grandsons, Morgan (Jennifer) Heimbeck, Devyn, Nicholas, Alexander, and Benjamin; granddaughters, Chiara and Sera; great grandson, Theo; great granddaughter, Keira; and sister, Dandelyn O’Connor.
Rae will be dearly missed by his family, friends, and former colleagues. In lieu of a funeral, his family will hold a celebration of Rae’s life in spring, a time Rae relished in Ellensburg, WA. Time and place: Saturday, April 23, 2016, 4 pm, Gallery One.

Gifts in memory of Rae may be made to either Cottage in the Meadow c/o Memorial Fund, 2701 Tieton Drive, Yakima, WA 98902; or Philosophy and Religious Studies Founding Faculty Scholarship Fund, Central Washington University Foundation, 400 E. University Way, MS 7508, Ellensburg, WA 98926; or CARE, www.care.org.

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