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FOR: In Memoriam


With respect to the passing on of George Houser, on August 19, 2015, I would like to say some words of remembrance.

George Houser, first of all, was a man for whom I held an enormous amount of respect.

I met George, together with his wife Jean, in 2010, at a time late in both our lives, through a friend, at his home at Friends House in Santa Rosa, California. We had what seemed to be an instant connection - he was so very vibrant then still, with his twinkling eyes and enthusiastic, intelligent questions, trying to find out more about me! I was just so happy to meet him and wanted to hear him recount, from his excellent memory, as many of the wonderful tales as possible of his life in the struggle for human rights and peace! He was a terrific story-teller!

I believe we had an affinity for each other, a comradeship and a bond, because of our common interests and experiences in the struggle for the liberation of the oppressed peoples of the...

While he lived well into his 99th year, the world lost a champion for justice last week. George House was my mentor, role model, and dear friend. Other than my father, he was the man who had the greatest influence on my life.

I first read about George Houser when he met with a group of black athletes who were prominent in sport but even more prominent because of their involvement in social justice issues. They were gathering to discuss both a boycott of the Mexico City Olympic Games and action to isolate apartheid South Africa.

That meeting was intense and powerful and made a huge impression on me. I am close to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was then known as Lew Alcindor. I was proud that Lew had the courage to join this group. As a young white man who wanted to work in civil rights, it was not lost on me that George was the only white person in the group.

My first impressions of George included being struck that a man who had done so many incredible...

George Houser hired me in 1980 to work at the American Committee on Africa (ACOA). We had already known each other for 15 years and would remain colleagues and friends until the end. There are too many stories to tell. In all the accolades for George, let’s not forget what Julius Nyerere said about him and ACOA in 1989 when Nyerere wrote the forward for George’s book No One Can Stop the Rain.

I have known George Houser for a long time, and through him the American Committee on Africa. We first met in the 1950s, when I went to the United Nations as a “Petitioner” seeking support for the independence of my country …

As far as I know, the committee had no money to give us...

George Houser was a mentor, friend, co-worker, and a giant of a human being. Some of the things I appreciated about George include:

  • George’s affirmation of life and his belief that we can make a difference – we can act to help make our local community, nation, and world each reflect the kind of society we deeply believe in – the beloved community.
  • George walked his talk. He put into practice the things he believed in. These included his becoming a conscientious objector and going to prison during World War II, and also his commitment to challenging racism and injustice, shown early in his life while in Chicago (where he co-founded the Congress of Racial Equality) and then playing a key role in launching the first Freedom Ride in the U.S. South in 1947, called the Journey of Reconciliation.
  • George’s belief in the freedom and dignity of every human being on the planet led him to his decades...

I was not fortunate enough to know George in his youth, at the height of his activism on desegregation and civil rights in this country, and the struggle for freedom for the colonized peoples of Africa, and to end apartheid. Our paths did cross a few times in the 1970s when I was working at the United Methodist Office for the United Nations, but my area of concentration at that time was ending the Vietnam War, and George was coming through the office to talk with my boss, Mia Adjali, about decolonization and the anti-apartheid movement. 

It was only some 20 years later, when I was working as international/interfaith secretary of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, that I had the privilege of actually getting to know and work with George. George came back on the National Council of FOR during a period of great turmoil and transition. He refused to get involved in any of the petty power struggles, which one finds all too often within the peace...

George Houser, a leader in the racial justice, anti-war, and African liberation struggles, died yesterday at Friends House in Santa Rosa, California. He was 99.

One of the most important yet least-heralded activists of the 20th century, George Houser played a critical role in the foundations of the U.S. civil rights movement, the development of a global solidarity movement with African liberation struggles, and some of the most cutting-edge early initiatives of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the nation’s oldest interfaith peace and justice organization.

FOR Executive Director Kristin Stoneking said, “From the time he, along with the Union Eight, refused to register for the draft into World War II and accepted a prison sentence as a consequence, to the end of his almost 100 years when many sought him out to record in his own words the stories and...

Some of us chuckled when we first learned of the title of George Houser’s 1989 memoir, No One Can Stop the Rain. Though we appreciated the homage which George was giving to Angolan freedom fighter and poet Agostino Neto, who penned that line while in prison in 1960, we were also aware of an additional truth. Neto, who went on to become independent Angola’s first president, wrote: “Here in prison, rage contained in my breast, I patiently wait for the clouds to gather, blown by the wind of history. No one can stop the rain.” Those of us who had the honor and pleasure of working with the indefatigable elder, who just passed away on August 19, knew this: “No One Could Stop George Houser!”



At age 99, even a year ago it seemed that George would just go on forever. Preparing for the major Pan-African nonviolence gathering that was part of the War Resisters International (WRI) conference held at Cape Town’s City Hall in July 2014, it was...

On Monday, May 11th, Oliver Timmons died in his sleep. The cause of death was a pulmonary embolism. At the young age of 58, we all lost a tremendous human being.

The loss of Oliver is a heartbreak to his family members, devastating to his friends, very significant to his acquaintances. To the Rockland Coalition to End the New Jim Crow, (RCENJC)  the loss of Oliver Timmons will have impactful, permanent, and difficult results.

Oliver’s activism was committed, meaningful and transitional. Oliver was truly committed to our RCENJC’s  work, impact, and success in our efforts to thwart systemic racism in our government’s criminal (in)justice system. Oliver made great contributions to the RCENJC including how we could move forward impacting the life experiences of Black, Brown, and Native American men and women in Rockland to...

Recently, FOR USA received an $89,500 bequest from the estate of Father George Wertin.  For 13 years, Father Wertin pastored the St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Wertin had a heart for social justice and inclusion.  A member of FOR USA since 1983, he never forgot his time participating in a FOR - IFPB delegation.  Father Wertin passed away August 28, 2014.  In honor of his servant-leadership, below, FOR re-posts an obituary written at the beginning of September last year:

Obituary: The Rev. George Wertin of St. Joan of Arc parish urged equal rights for gays

Article by: Karen Zamora, Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN

September 2, 2014

The Rev. George Wertin, a local...

The Fellowship of Reconciliation is in mourning today at the news of the sudden death yesterday, Dec. 11, of Reverend Sam Smith, a Brethren minister, multimedia artist, and FOR leader in countless capacities. Sam, whose 64th birthday was this past Sunday, Dec. 7, was a creative and pastoral grassroots activist who advocated passionately for youth and young people and against militarism and war.

It is nearly impossible to identify the number of ways that Sam volunteered in FOR and the wider peace movement, despite enduring long-term chronic pain, multiple back surgeries, and compromised health.

...

When I received the news that one of my dearest mentors, “Uncle” Dr. Vincent G. Harding had passed away, I had just finished some research he invited me to do for him as he was preparing to dedicate time to a memoir he’d long planned to write. Dr. Harding had asked me to collect some of the essays he wrote in the 1960s.

When I heard of his aneurysm, I called his cell phone and left him a message saying that I was thinking of and praying for him, and that I looked forward to hearing what he wanted me to do with the essays I’d collected. As I write these words, I still have those essays on my desk, and I wish so badly that I could call Uncle Vincent and have his voice advise me on what I ought to do with them.

I miss you already, Uncle Vincent, and will hold our conversations in my heart. You would...

Niilo Emil Koponen, a member of FOR since 1963, died of natural causes at the Fairbanks Pioneers’ Home on December 3, 2013. He was 85.

1846 Niilo was known, respected and loved by many for his hospitality, grassroots activism, years as a teacher and principal, union and civic involvement, 10 years in the Alaska Legislature, his volunteerism, and prolific letters.

Born to Finnish parents Aune and...

On November 16, 2013, eight-year-old Hashim s/o Abdul Hamid and nine-year-old Zukoom s/o Abdul Majid were on the streets of Kabul polishing boots, when a suicide bombing (in opposition to the U.S./Afghanistan Bilateral Security Agreement) killed them.

Johnny Barber, a peace activist from New York, and Ronya, an independent freelance journalist from Germany, accompanied the Afghan Peace Volunteers (APVs)  to Hashim’s and Zukoom’s funeral in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp two days later. We then held a videotaped conversation with Hashim and Zukoom’s classmates, Kahar and Naseem.

The daily struggles of ordinary people...

Years ago, when I was a college student, I was arrested with fellow civil rights activists for attempting to bring integration to Atlanta, Georgia. I remember sitting in a gray jail cell thinking, “So this is what it’s like to have your freedom taken away.”

Like Nelson Mandela, I had been willing to die for freedom, but sitting in that Fulton County jail cell (even though I spent only a week there) death seemed like an easier way to go. So when Mandela was released from prison in 1990, I found myself wondering what experiencing 27 years like the one week I had spent in jail could possibly have been like and how I might have emerged had I been forced to live through them. Given my negative feelings for the people who arrested me, I cannot begin to imagine that I would have emerged like Nelson...

Howard Clark, long time co-editor of Peace News and “coordinator” of War Resisters International (WRI) died November 28, 2013. The WRI’s older term for the post “general secretary” had been phased out in the early 1970s to give the impression that the headquarters did not depend on only one person, but terminology does not always change reality. In practice, there was little staff to “coordinate” and the national branches were too diverse in goals and organizational culture to be coordinated — beyond cooperation for holding important Triennial conferences, during which Howard became the daily news presenter keeping the challenges of world events in front of the participants.

Howard faced the issue of re-directing a movement in the post-Cold War years....

Charles Morgan Knapp, a retired clergy, life-long advocate for peace and social justice, and  member of FOR since 1940, died on April 19, 2013. He was 91.

1719 Born to Ralph Newell and Anna Hemenway Knapp of West Seattle and Vashon Island on July 4, 1921, Knapp graduated West Seattle High School, Whitman College and Yale Divinity School. He was a conscientious objector to WWII. In...

Scott E. Crom, 85, a member of FOR-USA since January 1961 and an active member of the Rock Valley, WI chapter, died on August 1, 2013 in Beloit, WI.1718

Born on December 9, 1927 in Grand Junction, CO, Crom was raised by his mother after his father, a WWI veteran, died at an early age. Crom majored in Math at...

Freda Pfeffer, cofounder of the International Pfeffer Peace Award, died Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013. She was 102. 1700

Born September 5, 1911 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to Mendel and Bessie Plotkin, Freda moved to New York City after graduating a semester early from high school. She was married to Leo Pfeffer for 55 years. Leo was the United States’ leading theoretician on religious liberty and the separation of church and...

Orval Etter, age 97, a member of FOR since March 1, 1939 and former Far Western Secretary, passed away on March 21, 2013, in Portland, OR.

1667 Born in Appleton, Colorado, on July 30, 1915, Orval was the eldest son of Wayne and Laura Carpenter Etter. He was valedictorian of his high school class in 1932, and obtained a Law degree from the University of Oregon in 1939,...

Shirley R. Johnson, a member of FOR since April, 1941, died on January 11, 2013, at home in Oberlin, OH. She was 95 years old.

Born July 15, 1917, in Chicago, IL, Shirley grew up in Chicago and Flushing, N.Y. Her mother, Agnes Stella Garrity, died in 1918 when 1512 Shirley was 14 months old. Her maternal grandmother raised her until she was...

Howell C. Lowe (Luo Hui-quan), a member of FOR since 2001, died on March 24, 2013 in Des Moines, WA. He was 88 years of age.

1500 Lowe was born on August 3, 1924 into a teaching minister’s family in Jinan, Shandong, North China. His father was a Chinese minister educated at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He was the eldest of four children.

In 1949 he graduated from...

Reverend Joan M. Haner, 80, a member of FOR since July 7, 1987, passed away on March 5, 2013 at Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, MA.

Born in Grove City, Pennsylvania, on March 9, 1932, Joan was a graduate of Hiram College and then Oberlin Seminary, and was ordained1479 in Warren, Ohio on July 27, 1958. Her early service included positions as Director of Christian...

Arthur “Art” Wiser, 92, a much-loved pastor of the Bruderhof communities and advocate for interfaith reconciliation, died surrounded by his family on March 26, 2013 at the Maple Ridge Community in Ulster Park.

1478 The first child of American missionaries, Art was born on July 22, 1920 in India, where he finished high school. This childhood instilled in him an abiding commitment to the downtrodden and to Ghandhi’s way...

Melvin Norris Leasure, 91, member of FOR since 1998, died on January 21, 2013. Leasure was a Quaker and lived in Lexington, KY.

Callie Shaver Stone, 84, a member of FOR since 1986, died on November 14, 2012. Callie was born in Scranton, PA on February 19, 1928, was married to the Reverend Winthrop Stone, and resided in Pleasantville, TN. She was affiliated with the United Church of Christ.

Dr. Harry Elwood Yeide Jr., 82, a member of FOR since March 30, 2006, died February 6, 2013 at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, MD. 1473

A native Washingtonian, Yeide was a 1949 graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School. He received a bachelor’s degree from Williams College in Williamstown, MA in 1953 and then studied for a year at the University of Cologne in...

Rev. Milton P. Andrews, 90, member of FOR since December 17, 1968, died February 14, 2013 at Wesley Homes retirement community in Des Moines, WA. He was well known as an activist minister who championed civil rights, protested the Vietnam War and pushed for nuclear disarmament from the pulpit.

1472...

Dr. Paul Andrew Wolf, a member of FOR since 1944, died in Sun City, Arizona on October 12, 2012. He was 100 years old. 1471

Born on Feb. 18, 1912 in Terre Haute, the eldest son of George and Susie Wolf, Paul’s work ethic was formed early in life when, as a fifth grader, he delivered milk in a wagon in Millersburg, Indiana. During the depression, his father moved the family to W. Lafayette,...

Arlie Waggy, 92, a member of FOR since 1943, died at Loyola University Hospital in Chicago on July 9, 2012. 1383

Waggy was born Sept. 26, 1919, on Shenandoah Mountain, Pendleton County, WVa. One of twelve children, he graduated from Franklin High School (WVa) and attended Bridgewater College (VA) for one year. When the United States entered WWII, he registered as a...

1382 Dennis Edward Bricking, 70, member of FOR since 1978, died at Baptist Hospital East in Louisville, KY on January 12, 2013.

Driven by a passion for humanity and having a sharp legal mind, Bricking was dubbed “the best lawyer that money can’t buy” for his tireless advocacy for the needy. He was raised in Southgate, KY, attended Newport Catholic...

It would be hard to find someone active in or closely connected to the Fellowship of Reconciliation in the past four decades who does not know the name, if not the face and voice, of long-time FOR leader Richard Deats. Richard has served FOR in countless capacities, including two stints as executive director, a long tenure as editor of Fellowship magazine (for which he is editor emeritus), director of interfaith relations, FOR-USA representative to the International FOR, and much more.

So, for those friends of Richard who have not yet heard, we are sorry to report that he is in recuperation from a serious head injury suffered last month. In mid-December, Richard fell one late evening when exiting a music rehearsal, and his head hit the ground. As he had discussed with me at length earlier that day, he had been experiencing macular...

Mary Blocher Smeltzer, a member of FOR since 1942, died at home in La Verne, CA on October 8, 2012.

1349 A member of the Church of the Brethren and an educator, Smeltzer’s long life of service and peace witness included teaching in the Manzanar internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II with her late husband Ralph Smeltzer. The...

Roland Bartel, a member of FOR since 1940, died on September 20, 2012. He was 93. 1226

Bartel was born on February 17, 1919, in Hillsboro, Kansas. He graduated from Bethel College in 1947 with a bachelor of arts degree and earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1951. During WWII, Bartel was a conscientious objector and served in the Civilian Public Service from 1941 to 1945. After...

Jesse Maxwell Corum III, 88, a member of FOR since January 31, 1980, died peacefully at Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach, FL on April 17, 2012.

957 Corum was born on October 7, 1923, and grew up in Norristown, PA. After a year at Bowdoin College, he joined the Army, married his high school sweetheart, completed Officers Candidate School,...

Walter Wink, 76, one of the most creative and influential scholars of our day, died peacefully at his home in Sandisfield in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts on May 10, 2012. His health had been declining since he was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia.

Wink was born in Dallas, Texas. He was a graduate of Southern Methodist University, after which he received Master of Divinity and Doctor of Theology degrees at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He was assigned as pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Hitchcock, Texas for five years. Then, for nine years, he served at Union Seminary as professor of New Testament, followed by becoming professor of biblical interpretation (1976-2005) at Auburn Theological Seminary, also in New York City. Outspoken against the Vietnam war, from 1967 to 1976 he served on the national steering committee of Clergy and Laity Concerned...

John Schuder, 90, a member of FOR since 1951, died in Columbia, MO on April 7, 2012.

Born on March 2, 1922, in Olney, IL, Schuder spent much of his life as a peace activist. In 1961, he helped found both the Columbia 951 Friends Meeting and Columbia Fellowship of Reconciliation. Along with others in Columbia, he counseled conscientious objectors to war and started...

Mary Agnes Chubb, 82, a practitioner and supporter of the arts, passed on February 11, 2012 in Santa Barbara, CA. She had been a member of F.O.R. since 1983.

Born in London, England, on March 21, 1929, Chubb’s family moved to Scotland during WWII where her father supported the war effort. At the age of 20, she immigrated to Canada and later settled in Santa Barbara to enjoy a long career as secretary to the City Library Director.

Chubb became engaged with fiber arts after her retirement from the Library and was active in the Fiber Arts Guild. She also enjoyed the Santa Barbara Symphony as well as writing and sharing her poetry.

As a member of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, Chubb served on the Library Committee and took part in dramatizations. She was also a member of the Santa Barbara Chapter of Health Care for All.

Activist, educator, politician, great father and husband, Scott died in his sleep of natural causes on November 19, 2011, at age 62.

754 Scott was born in Nebraska in 1948, grew up in San Jose, California and went to public schools, including Willow Glen High School, where he met his soulmate and future wife, Kristin Champion. Scott...

Verna Rapp Uthman, 83, a member of FOR since February 21, 1950, died on November 19, 2011 at St. Lukes VNA Hospice in Lower Saucon Township, PA.

723 Born in Elverson, PA in 1928, Uthman was raised in a God-centered family that taught her that all human beings are God’s children. Her many and varied experiences with different cultures...

Sister Rosemary Lynch, 93, a highly regarded international speaker and leader for peace, passed away in Las Vegas, NV on January 9, 2011.  She had been a member of FOR since October 1, 1984.

626 Born on March 18, 1917 in Phoenix, AZ, Rosemary attended St Mary’s Parish schools in Phoenix. She determined to join the Sisters of St. Francis upon graduation from...

William (Bill) Lytle, 87, a powerful preacher and active member of FOR since 1969, died in Los Gatos, CA, on May 27, 2011. 464

Born July 3, 1923 in Pittsburgh, PA, Lytle followed in his father’s...

Richard May, 93, a member of FOR since 2004, died at home in Nyack, NY on July 1, 2011. 394 May was an urban planner who was Rockland County’s first planning director in the 1950’s. His career included local, regional, and international planning, teaching and advocacy in public affairs. He was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and Columbia University’s School of...

Dorothy Tredennick, 96, a member of FOR since April, 1949 and a highly respected Professor of Art at Berea College in Kentucky, died on February 9, 2011.

361 Born a Connecticut Yankee, Tredennick was a member of the Berea community for more than 60 years having arrived as a student at Berea College in 1943 and then returning as a faculty member after obtaining a Masters in Art from the University of Michigan...

Robert Carlton Delk, 90, activist and educator, and member of FOR since August, 1940, died peacefully at home in Bloomington, Indiana on February 26, 2011.

A native of Ontario, Canada, Delk earned his degrees in the United States and taught at colleges and universities all over the country. His field of study was European history, and his expertise was the Middle East at and around the time of the Ottoman Empire.

As an activist for peace and social justice, Delk was a pacifist conscientious objector during WWII, a mediator during the student unrest of the late 1960’s, and an activist during the Civil Rights Movement when he had the opportunity to work with, among others, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Medgar Evers. As an advocate for the poor and working class, he supported the united workers and the right to form strong labor unions. He also served on governing boards and supported a variety of arts and...

Rev. Melvin R. McGaughey, 96, Methodist minister, hospice volunteer, and peace activist, died on December 5, 2010 in Saratoga Springs, NY.

McGaughey, son of a Methodist minister, was born August 14, 1914, in Big Springs, Neb. After graduating from Midland College in Nebraska and Boston University School of Theology, he met and married Grace Taylor. The couple was accepted into the Troy Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and served churches in Ellenburg, Hoosick Falls, Peru, and Schenectady in New York, and Morrisville and Bennington in Vermont. As a clergyman, McGaughey was known for his good humor and his commitment to social justice, ecumenism and peace.

In retirement, McGaughey and his wife served as missionaries in the Island Kingdom of Tonga, and he served as a temporary pastor of the East Arlington (VT) Federated Church. The couple also became very committed to volunteering at hospice, at...

MARION CRISSEY, beloved teacher, Civil Rights activist, humanitarian, and artist, passed away peacefully at home in Albuquerque, NM on Feb. 8, 2011. She was 104.

303 Crissey was born in 1906 in Illinois and lived with her grandparents after her parents died when she was six. She graduated from the University of Illinois and...

301 Dr. Martha “Bobby” MacGuffie, 87, pioneering surgeon and founder of SHARE, died in Nyack, NY on March 7, 2011. Known as “Domtila Awiti” or “the grandmother picking up children by the side of the road,” MacGuffie founded the Society for Hospital and Resources Exchange (SHARE) to bring help and hope to Kenyan children...

Barbara Morris Steinkraus, 84, a member of FOR since1944, passed away on January 11, 2011 in Oswego, NY.

Barbara Morris graduated from Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, Ohio in 1948, and married Warren Steinkraus, a professor of philosophy at SUNY Oswego. Interested in organizations that promoted peace and justice, Steinkraus helped found the Oswego branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom where she was credited with being a “whiz” at assembling the Peace & Justice newspaper. She was also a member of the Syracuse Religious Society of Friends and participant at Faith United Church of Oswego, and was active with the American Friends Service Committee. Steinkraus was an artist, an avid bird watcher, loved gardening and the color purple, and was a member of the Oswego Festival Chorus and Oswego Art Guild for many years. She is survived by a...

Lillian K. Clark, 92, a member of FOR since September 1941, died on June 7, 2010 in Aitkin, Minnesota. 300

Clark was born July 25, 1917 in Minneapolis where she grew up, attended school, and completed Nursing School at the University of Minnesota. In 1944, she married Harold A. Clark in Minneapolis and moved to North Carolina where she worked at Duke University; and in the 1950’s, she raised a family of four...

Dr. James C. Allen, age 82, a strong supporter of FOR, passed away on Sunday, April 10, 2011, at his home in Madison, WI.

Following his service in the U.S. Army Signal Corp from 1952-1954, Allen graduated from Marquette University Medical School in 1959 and spent his career at the University of Wisconsin Department of Ophthalmology and the Veterans Administration Hospital.

He is survived by his wife, Kathryn; and sons, John and David.