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Mary Jean Gardner, 55

Mary Jean Gardner, 55

Mar 23, 2011 - Mary Jean Gardner, a 55-year-old British national who was studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was killed when a bomb exploded across from the Jerusalem Convention Center, near the Central Bus Station.

Born to Scottish parents working in forestry in Kenya, Mary Gardner was passionate about languages, which brought her to Jerusalem this January. Her latest project was to help translate the Holy Scriptures into the Ife tribal language, which is spoken in Benin and Togo.

At the age of 15, Mary returned to Scotland with her parents, completing her high school education in Aberdeen and degrees in French and English at St. Andrews University. She worked as a French teacher in the Orkney Islands in northern Scotland until in 1998 she decided to devote her life to the translation of the Holy Scriptures.

Gardner had spent 20 years in Togo when she arrived in Israel to enroll in a six-month program that the Hebrew University''s Rothberg International School runs together with the Home for Bible Translators and Scholars in Jerusalem. She was on her way to meet a friend from Ireland who was visiting Jerusalem when she was killed.

"She was a quiet, sensitive and introverted person, highly motivated. She had a seriousness and commitment that is to be admired, being over 50 and coming to study Hebrew, archaeology, the land of the bible and the history of the land. You need a commitment for that, and you saw that language was really her life," said Miriam Ronning, a Bible translator from Finland who co-founded the center in 1995.

Vice-convener of Orkney Islands Council James Stockan, a family friend, said he was saddened to hear of her death. "She was a brave, tenacious lady whose incredible achievements in translating and teaching the Bible and putting the local dialect into print for the people of Togo were immense," he said. "My thoughts are with her family at this difficult time."

Eddie Arthur, executive director of Wycliffe Bible Translators, described Ms Gardner as a "lovely lady who was very popular" and would be "sorely missed". He said: "Mary worked with Wycliffe in Togo since 1989 where she was part of a team translating the New Testament into a language called Ife. "The New Testament was finished in 2009 and Mary had then gone on to work helping other people. She was in Israel for six months studying Hebrew in order to go back to Togo to translate the Old Testament."

Mary''s father Tony said: "Mary was a very special person and we thought the world of her. She was devoted to her work and was well liked wherever she went. We are proud of her and all that she has achieved in her life and feel truly blessed to have had her in our lives."

Mary Jean Gardner''s body was flown home for burial in Old Rayne, in Aberdeenshire. She is survived by her parents Jean and Tony, her sister Alison, 51, and brothers Andrew, 54, David, 49, and Tom, 43.

 

 

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