Levinger—Ann Cotton Levinger, 86, on June 21, 2017, in Amherst, Mass., with her family around her, serenaded by her husband, George, singing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” Ann was born on January 21, 1931, in Laurel, Miss., to Marjorie and William Cotton. In the Jim Crow South, she learned to treat others with empathy and respect from the role models around her: her parents, her African American nannies, and her Presbyterian Sunday School teachers. She said of her childhood’s segregated society that each dissolving boundary seemed like a spiritual breakthrough. At University of Michigan, she was vice president of an interracial Southern Students’ Social Club, which attracted national press coverage. She was president of the Student Religious Association, advocating for causes like the 1951 Wheat for India Bill. She met George Levinger, whose Jewish family had fled the Nazis in 1935, when she was a senior. Although she hesitated to marry someone of a different religion, love prevailed; they married in 1952, just as she graduated with a dual degree in psychology and education. They found a common spiritual home first in Ann Arbor (Mich.) Meeting and then in Radnor (Pa.) Meeting, which they joined in 1957. After teaching fifth grade for several years, she became a full-time mother. She worked in American Friends Service Committee’s Inner City Work Corps and promoted fair housing, civil rights, and peace when the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1960.
In 1965 she and George moved to Amherst and joined Mt. Toby Meeting in Leverett, Mass. She took part in weekly antiwar vigils on the Amherst Common; volunteered as draft counselor; was overseer for Hampshire College meeting for worship in the 1970s; served as assistant clerk; edited and wrote for the newsletter; coordinated the Fall Fellowship weekend; and served on Ministry and Worship, Nominating, Library, History and Records, Gay and Lesbian Concerns, Refugee Resettlement, Draft Counseling, and Nursery Committees. In 1969 she urged the meeting to stop paying the telephone tax, which supported the Vietnam War, which the meeting did. Committed to young children, in 1977 she and another Friend gave parent training sessions about systematic equality for all people, including children, and one of her newsletter articles urged Friends to refrain from laughing when young children first had the courage to say their names during introductions.
She earned a doctorate in counseling from University of Massachusetts School of Education in 1982 and became licensed as a clinical psychologist. In 2006, she served on the meeting’s ad hoc Committee on Safe Practices for Working with Youth, developing practices to ensure children’s safety. Friends fondly remember her perpetual cheerfulness and good humor. Working with her energized others, whether it was on a committee or climbing up to re-shingle the meetinghouse roof. The prison inmate trainers and participants she worked with in Alternatives to Violence loved her.
Ann’s husband of 65 years, George Levinger, died 12 days after her. She is survived by her children, Bill Levinger (Tracy Stiles), Jim Levinger (Leah), Matthew Levinger (Cristin Carnell Lambros), and David Levinger (Angela); two sisters; a brother-in-law; and eight grandchildren.
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