Pendergrast—John Brittain Pendergrast Jr., 99, on September 22, 2016, peacefully, at his beloved home in Atlanta, Ga. Britt was born on February 3, 1917, in Atlanta, the second of four sons. He attended Druid Hills High School and in 1938 earned a bachelor’s degree with highest honors in textile engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, where he served as president of Chi Phi fraternity and became a lifelong Yellow Jackets fan. He earned a master’s in organic chemistry from Emory University. In 1941, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) came to his aid when his first application for conscientious objector status was denied. After working briefly at DuPont Company in Philadelphia, Pa., he returned to Atlanta to work at Southern Cross Industries (then Southern Spring Bed Company), eventually becoming president. In the late 1940s, he served on an AFSC protection committee for black community leaders in Atlanta who were being forced to move out of their homes. After leaving Southern Cross, he worked for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in the Georgia Heritage Trust Program, which acquired and preserved natural and historic properties. He served on the boards of Georgia’s Nature Conservancy and many other nonprofit organizations and counseled Vietnam War conscientious objectors with members of Atlanta Meeting, which he joined in 1983. A founding member of Friends School of Atlanta, he and his wife, Nan, served on the board of the school for many years. They along with other Friends also produced News and Views, a monthly publication that reprinted articles and editorials supporting Friends testimonies.
Britt was a lover of poetry, singer of songs, photographer, prolific reader, charming wit, sailor, and dedicated do-it-yourselfer. A founding member of Atlanta Yacht Club on Lake Allatoona, he built a Y-Flyer sailboat and competed in races, winning the Y-Flyer national championship regatta in 1956. His photographs graced two of Nan’s books. He worked in partnership with her to raise their seven children and advance the causes of civil rights, peace, justice, education, and the environment. All who knew him loved and valued his generosity, compassion, and wisdom.
Britt was predeceased by his father, John B. Pendergrast Sr.; his mother, Ruth Hodnett Pendergrast; and two brothers, Ambrose Pendergrast—called Brodie—and Robert Pendergrast. He is survived by his wife of 76 years, Nan Schwab Pendergrast; seven children, Jill MacGlaflin, John B. Pendergrast III (Fiona), Nan Marshall (Gene), Mark Pendergrast (Betty), Blair Vickery, Scott Pendergrast (Bailey), and Craig Pendergrast (Terri); 20 grandchildren; 29 great-grandchildren; one brother, William J. Pendergrast; two sisters-in-law, Helen Pendergrast and Libba Pendergrast; many nieces and nephews; and his beloved dog, Bonnie. The first meeting for worship at Atlanta Meeting after his passing became a deeply gathered spontaneous memorial for him, with messages about his remarkable life. The family also held a memorial service for him at Trinity Presbyterian Church.