January 4, 2015 at 4:30pm

Memorial for Annabelle Voigt Dirks ’41

Annabelle Voigt Dirks passed away on January 4, 2015 at the age of 94 at Monte Vista Grove Homes in Pasadena, California, where she had lived since 2001.

The youngest of three children, Annabelle Bernardine Voigt was born on April 7, 1920 in Chicago, Illinois, to John Frederick Voigt III, a prominent lawyer, and Florence Edna Bell Voigt. After attending schools in both Chicago and Delray Beach, Florida, where the family spent several winters, Annabelle graduated from Morgan Park High School (Chicago) in 1936. She attended several undergraduate colleges, including Maryville (in Tennessee) and Wheaton (in Illinois), and then received a B.S. degree in 1941 with a Certificate in Home Economics from Millikin University, a Presbyterian college in Decatur, Illinois.

Her first job was teaching home economics, music, and general science in a rural high school in Paw Paw, Illinois, 75 miles west of Chicago. There, she met her future husband, John Edward "Ed" Dirks, an Iowa native, who was attending Presbyterian (now McCormick) Theological Seminary in Chicago, and serving as Student Pastor in the small town's First Presbyterian Church on weekends. In early 1942, she started a one-year Dietetics internship at Philadelphia General Hospital and received her certification as a registered dietitian upon completion. During this time, her husband-to-be was completing his final year of seminary training at Yale Divinity School (where he received his Bachelor of Divinity Degree in 1943).
Annabelle became Associate Editor in the Foods and Equipment Division of Good Housekeeping Institute in New York City, testing kitchen recipes and determining those that passed with the magazine's coveted "Seal of Approval." She also wrote articles and authored a column to answer reader correspondence. She was thrilled when her first by-line appeared over an article titled "How to Defrost the Refrigerator."

Annabelle and Ed married in 1943 at the height of WWII during a hot NYC summer at the Union Theological Seminary Chapel. Her husband, ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1944, pursued his Ph.D. at Columbia University in a joint program with Union Theological Seminary, and was awarded the degree in 1947.

In 1948, Annabelle took an 8-week leave of absence from work to have her first child '€“ and was surprised to give birth to identical twins Christopher and Timothy, who were born on Easter Sunday. Somehow, she was able to finish a Master of Arts program in Home Economics and Nutrition at Teacher's College, Columbia University, in 1949. Two other children followed soon thereafter: Nicholas in 1950 in Illinois, and Rebecca in 1953 in NYC. When all of her children were old enough, she resumed her career in Connecticut as a secondary-school teacher of Home Economics from 1956-68.

The family lived in a number of places during the 1950s through the 1970s, including: Lake Forest, Illinois, where Ed was Professor of Philosophy at Lake Forest College; North Haven, Connecticut, where her husband was Professor of Religion in Higher Education at Yale Divinity School; near Madras (now Chennai), South India, during Ed's Fulbright scholarship year 1963-64; and St. Louis, Missouri, where her husband was Vice President of the Danforth Foundation and where Annabelle taught Home Economics at an inner-city junior high from 1968-74. She was an active member of St. Louis' integrated Berea Presbyterian Church.

In the mid-1970s, Annabelle and Ed moved to California, where he served as Vice Chancellor of the Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at UC Santa Cruz. A Registered Dietitian, Annabelle was the Food Service Manager at Community Hospital of Santa Cruz for over a decade. A long-time member of Trinity Presbyterian Church, she also volunteered her time providing food for shelters and the homeless. In 1990, she began another career as the nutritionist for the Seniors Council/Area Agency on Aging of Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties (including a Meals-On-Wheels program), and wrote a weekly column about nutrition for the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Annabelle's interests included music (playing violin and piano), singing (and touring) with various choirs, reading, entertaining, traveling around the world, and supporting peace and social justice causes as a committed Democrat. She was a stalwart Christian all of her life, serving as elder, deacon, member of Presbytery, and piano accompanist in many churches. In Pasadena, she was a member of the Pasadena Presbyterian Church.

Annabelle's husband of 38 years, J. Edward Dirks, died in 1981. She is survived by: son Christopher, of Santa Monica, on the research support staff of the RAND Corporation; son Timothy, of Pasadena, AMC Networks editor and film historian, and partner Mary Kirmil; son Nicholas, Chancellor of UC Berkeley, and daughter-in-law Janaki Bakhle; and daughter Rebecca and son-in-law Robert MacDonald, living in France and working as conference interpreters for the UN in Geneva. She is also survived by several nieces and nephews, including Abigail Johnston of San Francisco; and three grandchildren: Sandhya Dirks, a reporter for KALW, a public radio station in San Francisco; Robbie MacDonald, working for Apple and living in New York City; and Ishan Dirks, a student at Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts.

After a small funeral service at the Colfax Center Presbyterian Church in Holland, Iowa, her husband's boyhood church, she will be laid to rest next to her husband in the church's adjoining cemetery near the graves of many Dirks family members. A memorial service will be held at Monte Vista Grove Homes (2889 San Pasqual St.) in Pasadena, California on Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 2 pm, in Marwick Place.

Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on Jan. 18, 2015 - See more here

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