Obituary for Dawn Houck


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Dawn Houck (née Kyoko Aoto) was born on September 8, 1928 in Koishikawa, Japan to Hiroyuki and Tae Aoto, a Christian family in Japan. She suffered ostracism and, after World War II began, isolation for her faith and anguish at being forced to contribute to the war effort against fellow human beings. These experiences cemented her reliance on God and her dedication to global and personal peace.

After the war Dawn received at B.A. from Tsuda College in Tokyo, one of the first private colleges for women in Japan. She then studied on scholarship at Shorter College in Rome, GA, earning a second B.A., then at the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, VA. She returned home to Japan to teach at Seikei Junior High School for two years; then she entered the mission field and served for five years in Patrocínio, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Dawn felt she could serve more effectively with the greater perspective and skills afforded by more education. She returned to the United States to study psychology at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, where she met and married Rev. John B. Houck, an Episcopal priest and pastoral psychologist. They adopted two girls, Fawn and Florence. Their international, multiracial family modeled the interracial equality and harmony they strove to promote in the world.

Dawn lived in Chicago for over 40 years, where she attained a Master of Arts in Counseling from DePaul University, a Master of Pastoral Studies from Loyola University and a Doctor of Ministry from Chicago Theological Seminary; she also studied under Fr. Robert Sears, S.J. She practiced Christian psychotherapy, taught therapeutic Bible study classes, and offered spiritual direction, touching the lives of many.

Her sharp mind, healthy lifestyle, and family longevity made it a great surprise to us when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in January 2009. Florence and her husband Kevin opened their home to her, and cared for her there in Olympia Fields, IL for two and a half years. She declined rapidly. Finally, on June 11 she was relieved of her burden and found her way home to God.

She is survived by her daughters, Fawn Bilgere (Dmitri) and Florence Davis (Kevin); two grandchildren, John and Mercedes Davis; her ex-husband John Houck (Ina); her sister, Kei; her niece Anna, her nephews Hosea (Catherine), Joshua (Mika), Ken (Teruko) and Satoshi (Naoko) and their children; and numerous cousins in Japan. She is preceded in death by her father, her mother, her brother, Jun Aoto (Akiko), a sister-in-law, Emiko Aoto, and her brother-in-law, Masao Hirata.

The love and gratitude of not only her family but also scores of clients, associates and friends surrounds her memory. She transformed the lives of many through her faith, forthrightness and devotion. Her courage, vision and love live on through those she has touched. We miss you, Mom/Dawn. Thanks be to God for such a marvelous life.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 25 at 2:00 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church in Chicago, 125 E. 26th Street, 60616.

An interactive Google map is here (opens in a new window).

Should you wish to make donations: in lieu of flowers, we would appreciate contributions toward relief from the earthquake/tsunami disaster that struck Japan on 3/11/11. We will collect funds and send them as a lump sum to our cousin Satoshi Aoto in Sendai, who will distribute them appropriately. Checks may be made out to either Fawn Bilgere or Florence Davis, earmarked “In Memory of Dawn Houck.”

Notes for those who plan to attend the memorial service:

Reception: A reception will immediately follow the memorial service, at the longtime home of Dawn Houck, at 2637B S. Michigan Ave. 60616 (entrance on Indiana).

An interactive Google map is here (opens in a new window).

Should you wish to bring any refreshments, you are welcome to drop them off at the house between 1:00-1:45 pm, prior to the memorial service.

If you would like to sign up to bring something to the reception, you can easily coordinate with what others are bringing here (link opens in a new window).

Parking: Parking is available in the Trinity Church parking lot after 1:15 pm. (Parking lot entrance on Indiana Ave. just south of 26th Street)

Additional parking may be available on 26th Street, on Michigan Ave., and on certain other side streets. However, Indiana Ave. south of 26th Street is zoned “Resident Permit Parking Only.”