By Mark Ellis, Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (June 4, 2016) — John Robertson McQuilkin, the college president who stepped down to care for his wife stricken with Alzheimer’s, passed into the arms of Jesus on Thursday, June 2nd. He was 88.
McQuilkin had served as president of Columbia Bible College and Seminary for 22 years (now Columbia International University) when he resigned in 1990 to care fulltime for his wife, Muriel, who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease.
He met Muriel at the school when they were students. When they first met, he discovered she was “delightful, smart, and gifted, and just a great lover of people and more fun than you can imagine.”
He proposed on Valentine’s Day in 1948 and over the next 30 years, they raised six children and served God in many ways, including 12 years as missionaries in Japan.
In 1968 they returned to the U.S. and Robertson became president of the college. Muriel also taught there, spoke at women’s conferences, and on TV and radio programs.
In 1981, they received some tragic news: Muriel had early Alzheimer’s disease.
In the initial years of the disease, Robertson tried to go to his office and fulfill his responsibilities at the school. But as soon as he left Muriel and went to the college, she would become anxious and distressed – sometimes even terror-stricken.
So she would follow him, walking a half-mile to the school. She made that trip as many as 10 times a day. One time at night he was helping her get ready for bed and he noticed she had bloody feet because she had walked so far to try to get close to him.
As Robertson reflected later on his wife’s devotion he admitted to himself: “I wish I loved God like that – that I was desperate to be near him at all times.”
When speech began to fail Muriel, one of the last phrases Muriel could say was, “I love you.”
In 1990, Robertson did something few men would do. He knew the school needed him 100 percent, and he knew Muriel needed him 100 percent. He chose to step down from his position as president of the college so he could devote full time to being his wife’s caretaker.
Photo captions: 1) Dr. Robertson McQuilkin. 2) The couple on their wedding day. 3) Mark Ellis.
About the writer: Mark Ellis is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net), and also founder of www.GodReports.com, a website that shares stories, testimonies and videos from the church around the world. He is also co-host for “Widows on the World” with ANS Founder, Dan Wooding, which is airred weeekly on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (http://hsbn.tv).
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