Benita Fifield: Remembering an educator, innovator, mentor, pioneer and philanthropist

Fifield made lasting contributions to the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine

Communications - 14 March 2017

On April 28, 2016, the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine and the University of Alberta lost a member of its faculty and alumni families. Benita Bradley Fifield (Mayers) was a leader, innovator, pioneer and educator for over thirty years and left a lasting impact here in the Faculty. Fifield held a diploma in occupational therapy ('70), a BScOT ('72) and an MSc in Family Studies ('81) from the U of A. She was an accomplished occupational therapist, certified sex educator and professor. She was active in many roles within the Faculty including teaching in the Department of Occupational Therapy from 1963 to 1990, head ('73-'76) and chair ('82-'83) of the Department of OT, and served as acting dean from 1979 to 1980 and again from 1984 to 1985.

Fifield also established a private practice and conducted many workshops and seminars on sexual counselling skills for professionals. Throughout her career she promoted positive attitudes towards persons with disabilities. She was predeceased by her husband Orville and had retired as professor emeritus to Qualicum Beach in 1999. Her passionate support of students and her alma mater did not wane in retirement, as she established and endowed the Benita Mayers and Orville Fifield Scholarship in Sexual Health.

Benita, and her lasting contributions to the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, will be remembered fondly.

Benita, Benny as she was known, was a gentle person and someone whose actions spoke stronger than words in reserving patterns of daily living and promoting community living supports for persons with acquired disabilities. I met her in 1963 as my clinical supervisor. Her forward-thinking beliefs for change in rehabilitation services started with the attitudes of health professionals. Benny was a stabilizing influence during times of great disruption and growth in the Department, School and then the Faculty. We owe a great deal to her leadership during those times.

E Sharon Brintnell

I met Benita and her husband Orville in 1980-1981 during my first year as a nursing student at the Misericordia Hospital School of Nursing. Benita and Orville were teaching us about sexuality. When I took my BScN degree at the U of A, I took a human sexuality course taught by Benita and Orville. I attribute my attitudes and my comfort level surrounding sexuality to taking Benita and Orville's course on human sexuality.

Rhonda E. Harris
Retired Nurse,
Former Student/TA