BYFIELD, Virginia Luella
The death on July 21 of Virginia Byfield, writer, editor and for 65 years wife of western Canadian publisher Ted Byfield, ended a life that was deeply committed to a resurgence of the Christian faith in the modern world.
Raised in Ottawa she attended the University of Toronto on four scholarships in classical languages, and became a summer replacement reporter on the Ottawa Journal. There she met her future husband. She dropped out of university in her second year to become a reporter on the Timmins Press in Northern Ontario, where her husband was by then city editor.
In her mid-20s, a mother of four, she was powerfully influenced by the writings of Christian apologists like G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis and Dorothy L. Sayers. With her husband she became a founding member of the Company of the Cross, an Anglican lay order. The order established three boys' schools, dedicated to the reassertion of Christian educational principles, where she taught French, English grammar and literature. There she gave birth to a fifth child and adopted a sixth. Five of her children survive her, and 15 grandchildren.
When the Company of the Cross launched what later became Alberta Report newsmagazine, to assert a Christian presence in the news media, she led its coverage of the diminishing role of the family in law, politics and schools. Later she was a major contributor to AR's 12-volume history of Alberta, and to the ensuing 12-volume history of Christianity.
In 1996, she and her husband converted to the Orthodox Church in America; she has since been an active member of St. Herman's in Edmonton. She will be sorely missed, by none more than her husband. "I've not only lost a wife, comrade, counsellor and favourite drinking companion," he said, "I've also lost my best editor. I've published few things over the last 40 years that didn't undergo the severities of her edit and the profound insights of her Christian mind." She died at her Edmonton home. She was 85.
Prayers will be said Friday night at 7:30 at St. Herman's Church, 9930 167 Street. The Funeral Service will take place at St. Herman's at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 26, and the burial at Holy Cross Cemetery. Reception will follow at the Byfield home, 531 Lessard Drive at about 1:00 p.m.
Published in Edmonton Journal on Jul. 24, 2014.