Allan Brick

Brick—Allan Brick, 89, on August 24, 2018, at Kendal at Longwood, Kennett Square, Pa. Allan was born on November 7, 1928, in Chester, Pa., to Dorothy Schofield and Leon P. Brick. Leon, who had been a star high school and college athlete, worked in the textile industry, and Dorothy was a church organist and choir director. In 1934 they moved to Ridgewood, N.J., where Allan attended public schools and was active in the town council and the community church. He attended Haverford College, where the post-World War II convergence of pacifist Quakers and returning veterans led him to conscientious objection and anti-war activism. After receiving a master’s from Yale in 1951, he married Margaret Bender, called Peggy, and taught at Wilmington Friends School in Delaware before doing alternative service as a teacher at Sleighton Farm School for Girls in Pennsylvania.

In 1957 he returned to Yale to complete a doctorate in English literature, with a dissertation on The Leader, a periodical that in the 1850s had agitated for political and social reform in England. He taught English at Dartmouth College, where his political activism—bringing radical pacifists to the campus and organizing protests against the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC)—may have prevented his receiving tenure. He and Peggy joined Hanover (N.H.) Meeting while he was teaching at Dartmouth. By 1960 the family was complete with three children, and they happily moved to Baltimore, Md., where he taught at Goucher College, and they joined Stony Run Meeting.

In 1965 he was deeply affected by his friend Norman Morrison’s self-immolation at the Pentagon in protest of the continuing U.S. bombings that killed Vietnamese children. Soon after, he left the academy to work for seven years in the growing movement to end the war. First, as peace secretary for the new Baltimore office of American Friends Service Committee, he initiated protests and anti-draft activity. Later, as associate executive secretary for Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), a pacifist organization in Nyack, N.Y., he coordinated a team of national religious and civil rights leaders who visited South Vietnam to investigate the large number of political prisoners. During this time he belonged to Rockland Meeting in Blauvelt, N.Y. In 1971 he coordinated FOR and other national peace groups in taking several hundred religious and political leaders to Paris to explore possible ways to peace with representatives of Vietnamese factions.

In 1972, as the war wound down, he returned to the academy, teaching nineteenth-century literature, his specialty, and memoir writing at Hunter College. He was chair of the College Senate and chair of the English Department. Officially, he retired in 1999, but for several years, he traveled to New York weekly, unwilling to abandon teaching, the theatre, and New York Philharmonic concerts. Finally, when he was persuaded to teach literature and memoir writing at Kendal, he discovered that these older adult residents would be his most passionate and perceptive students. Whether the author was Dickens or Coetzee, Austen or Morrison, he “sought to illuminate the relationship between literature and opposition to injustice and war.” Besides many journal articles and letters to editors, he wrote a memoir, Up from Chester, and two books of poetry, Growing Pains and It’s High Time!

Peggy died in December 2018 (see next milestone). Allan is survived by three children, Deborah Troup, Pamela Shadzik, and Kenneth Brick; and five grandchildren.

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