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Dwayne Ernest Huebner

In Remembrance
October 16, 1923 - March 13, 2023


Dwayne was born to Louise Vogt and Ernest John Huebner in Grand Rapids, Michigan on October 16, 1923, a younger brother to Robert James. He grew up in a web of extended family, with fond memories of aunts, uncles, and cousins all around. 

Dwayne’s working-class family was deeply affected by the Depression. The family home was lost and his father traveled to various cities and states to find work. Dwayne spent three years in Chicago before returning to Grand Rapids in high school. With the encouragement of their parents, Robert and Dwayne were able to finish high school and pursue higher education. 

An early interest in the physical sciences led Dwayne to focus on chemistry in junior college. World War II shaped his next steps and he enlisted in the Army, which sent him to Texas A&M to train in electrical engineering. Dwayne became part of the Army’s signal corps and worked with radios. He was fortunate to have avoided active combat during the war.

Dwayne often referred to Uncle Sam taking care of him. The GI Bill allowed him to study at the University of Chicago, where he received a master’s degree in education. Following two years as an elementary school teacher, Dwayne wanted to dive more deeply into the field of education and joined a doctoral program at the University of Wisconsin where he began to read widely in philosophy. He then taught at Northern Illinois University and frequented bookstores, which became a life-time habit. 

Teachers College at Columbia University invited Dwayne to help develop a doctoral program in curriculum theory. While at TC, Dwayne also became involved with teaching at Union Theological Seminary and the Jewish Theological Seminary. He developed deep friendships and connections that reflected his intermingled interests. Dwayne committed his life to the transformative power of education and the human capacity to wonder.

Dwayne was married to Jennifer Holmes Huebner for twenty years. They raised their two daughters, Morley and Gillian, in Manhattan and Old Chatham, New York, and in Connecticut, when Dwayne assumed a position at Yale Divinity School in 1982.

Dwayne was married to Ellen Frances Davis, a biblical scholar and teacher, for 31 years. He spoke of their life together as “nourishing in body, mind, and spirit”. Since 2001, they have made their home in Durham, North Carolina. Dwayne cultivated deep and enduring relationships across generations and differences. He tended his garden, his neighbors, and his community.

Dwayne is survived by his wife Ellen, his daughters, Morley Vogt van Yperen and Gillian Huebner, eight grandchildren: Nicolaas, Paiter, Isaac, Ezra, Ellieson, and Nathaniel van Yperen, Luca and Raphael Utterwulghe, and three great grandchildren; Judah, Levi and Nicolaas van Yperen. Dwayne attended to and invested in the uniqueness of each one until his final hours.

Dwayne often spoke about the amazing grace that filled his life. On his 90th birthday, he said, “So I think all of you have been part of that grace and I thank all of you who have in one way or another been a part of that grace. I’m not sure about the hound of heaven, but I am absolutely sure that grace is amazing.”

In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution in Dwayne’s honor to the Ellen F. Davis and Dwayne E. Huebner Scholarship Fund at Duke Divinity School.

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