Kuppers—Faith Farnham Kuppers, 92, on August 6, 2016, in Charlotte, N.C., in her sleep. Faith was born on May 4, 1924, in Buffalo, N.Y., to Doris Channell and William Farnham. She grew up in the Miami, Fla., area and spent time in Asheville, N.C., and Ithaca, N.Y. She studied English at Cornell University, where she met her future husband, James Kuppers, who was completing naval officers’ training there. After the war she and Jim, a chemist for United Fruit Company, lived for seven years in Central America, learning to speak fluent Spanish. Disturbed by company policies that they considered unethical, they left United Fruit and returned to the United States, settling in Charlotte in 1964. They were part of the beginnings of Charlotte Meeting, attending in the early days on Vail Avenue. Faith advocated for the meeting’s outreach activities and was active in peace and civil rights causes, especially housing. A court watcher and longtime member of the League of Women Voters, she was dedicated to women’s rights, social justice, and prison reform, volunteering at Crisis Assistance Ministry for many years. Through her social justice witness with organizations such as People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, she became a model for new attenders, demonstrating how to honor one’s leading and speak truth to power.
At Charlotte Meeting she taught in First-day school and was known as “the Gingerbread Lady,” making gingerbread figures every Christmas for the meeting’s children as well as for her own children and grandchildren.
Her life expressed Quaker values, especially simplicity, peace, integrity, and community. She and Jim lived in a modest house and used serviceable inexpensive cars. They read a lot, traveled some, played Scrabble almost every day, and were devoted to their children and grandchildren, who tell of how she loved to give them books as Christmas and birthday gifts, quizzing them afterward to make sure that they had read them. They shared with others their log cabin in the North Carolina mountains with a single window, no electricity, and no indoor water source.
Though she attended Charlotte Meeting for almost 50 years, she showed her devotion to the integrity testimony by her decision to abstain from membership. As a free thinker and questioner, in her straightforward way she felt that her beliefs did not coincide with the religious beliefs of most Quakers, although Friends attempted to reassure her that Quakers have no required creed, no list of requisite beliefs.
After Jim died in 2008, she continued attending meeting even as her own health began to decline, walking down the gravel drive from the parking lot with the help of her cane, eager to attend despite physical challenges. When she moved to Atria MerryWood assisted living community and was unable to attend meeting, she sent the meeting messages and kept in touch through Friendly visitors. She always wanted reports on the meeting’s children.
Faith was preceded in death by her husband of 64 years, Jim Kuppers; a daughter, Mary K. Stewart; and a brother, William M. Farnham. She is survived by three children, James F. Kuppers, Kathryn C. Kuppers, and Theresa K. Lanning; five grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; a sister, Janet Farnham; and a sister-in-law, Gail Farnham.