Queen's University

Memorial for Stephen Obeng Gyimah

Sociology professor Stephen Gyimah passed away on May 11 at age 43.

Brilliant scholar, inspirational teacher, kind and generous mentor and friend, and devoted husband and father, Stephen Obeng Gyimah died at home on May 11, 2012 at 43, following a few days of feeling unwell.

“The expressions of grief and disbelief from all who knew this vibrant, cheerful, respected, and well-loved man give some idea of just how much he will be missed,” says colleague Roberta Hamilton, professor emerita in the Department of Sociology.

Building bridges between disciplines, between colleagues, between professor and students was central to his life as a professor. His command of matters statistical and empirical made him a crucial resource for students and colleagues, and his unparalleled generosity in sharing his knowledge contributed in important ways to their projects and to his teaching. In his words, “most students come to statistics with genuine fears that can be exacerbated by the abstract manner in which statistics is taught. My teaching philosophy centres on making these courses practical and interesting and dispelling psychological barriers by emphasizing that all students can be trained to learn statistics, and that there is no need for a special talent.”

In his writing on sub-Saharan Africa, Dr. Gyimah addressed complex health and public policy issues, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, infant mortality, educational attainment, marital dissolution, ageing, and physical abuse. In a career that ended far too early, Dr. Gyimah became a leading authority in the study of Sub-Saharan Africa.

A few days before he died Dr. Gyimah was in his office with students and there was much laughter. So much laughter that one of his colleagues thought about going down the hall and asking for a little peace and quiet. Now that colleague would give anything to hear those happy sounds again. He had a great wit and a wonderful laugh that came easily. But underneath it all loomed a penetrating mind and a commitment to understanding and addressing injustice and inequity.

The Department of Sociology and the Gyimah family invite the Queen’s community to a celebration of Dr. Gyimah’s life on Friday, September 21 at 4 pm in McLaughlin Hall in the John Deutsch University Centre.

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