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Theodore Darrah  (1914-1995):

Professor of Religion & Dean of Chapel


Born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 31, 1914, Theodore Darrah came from a family which emigrated from Scotland to Prince Edward Island, Canada, then to Quincy, Massachusetts, where Darrah spent his childhood years.  The combination of his Scottish blood, New England upbringing and enrollment with a group called the Christian Endeavors brought about his love for religion, and by the age of fifteen, Darrah made up his mind to enter the ministry.[1]   After completing Harvard College with a Bachelors of Science degree, Darrah returned to the College to receive another Bachelors in Sacred Theology.  Directly after graduation, he journeyed to Europe, where he met his wife, Cornelia Sanders Scott of St. Paul, Minnesota, for the first time.  Together, they moved to Connecticut, where Darrah became a minister in the Ellington Congregational Church in Connecticut.  He remained at the Church until 1943 before relocating to Salisbury, Connecticut, where he preached at until 1947.

 During that year, Dr. Holt called upon Darrah to join the Rollins College faculty.  Darrah graciously accepted the invitation as the fourth dean of the Knowles Memorial Chapel and eventually earned the title of full professor of religion, taking delight in pointing out that his only previous teaching experience had been in instructing Sunday school. Almost immediately, he took liking to those on campus, where during his early years, “students played games and tricks on him, but he always took it in good fun.”[2]  The years following, he became known around campus for his adeptness with the plunger and wrench, and then later, as the father of four children, two of which graduated from Rollins.   Darrah remained at the College for twenty-five years, until his resignation from the position as Dean of Chapel in 1973 for a one-year sabbatical leave to study at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.  Although his main purpose consisted of bringing himself up to date with Biblical research, he also felt the need to experience life on the other side of the fence  to improve his teaching as well as enjoy the lack of responsibilities.[3]  Darrah returned to Rollins a year later, where he continued his teaching of philosophy and religion and worked as an assistant to Rollins President Jack Critchfield.  After another six years of teaching, Darrah took up teaching the Old and New Testament part-time at the College.  Darrah’s semi-retirement from the College gave him more time to devote to another of his interests: clocks.  Over time, he had become fascinated with them, because they gave him, “an acute sense of time.”[4]

Time soon caught up with Darrah, and on March 12, 1995, Theodore Darrah passed away.  The personality and character that Darrah exhibited to those around him have best been summed up with the words which were read to him at the 1973 Rollins Commencement when he was presented with the honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities.  He will forever be remembered as, “the scourge of the administration, an implacable foe of red tape, the custodian of thousand and one faculty and student confidences, and always a jealous advocate of freedom of the pulpit, and worship.”[5]

- Alia Alli

[1] Kelly Pflug, “An Interview With Dr. Theodore S. Darrah, Former Dean of Knowles Memorial Chapel at Rollins College, Winter Park,” May 27,1987, p 2.

[2] Sue Hong, “Rollins Students to Miss Cigar-Chomping Chaplain,” Sentinel Star, May 19, 1973.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Joanne Park, “The Dean,” The Rollins Alumni Record, 1985.


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