Way—Kamilla Way, 90, on March 3, 2023, peacefully, with her family at her side at Foxdale Village retirement community in State College, Pa. Kamilla was born on February 5, 1933, to Franz and Maria Fastin in Steiermark, Austria. She grew up during World War II when Austria was part of the Nazi alliance. She remembered eating food they had received from American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).
Kamilla volunteered with AFSC, which had opened an office in Vienna. She was sent to San Francisco, Calif., to work with older Jewish refugee women. She continued her volunteer work with AFSC in Mexico, working as a teacher. When her service ended, she returned to Vienna. Kamilla met Ralph Way, a Quaker from a small farming community in Pennsylvania, who was returning from Africa after his two-year service with AFSC. They were married on October 2, 1957, and moved to Stormstown, Pa. Ralph worked on a construction crew and learned to build houses, which began their lifelong work providing homes in State College. Kamilla helped shingle the roof of their first house the day before their son, Andrew, was born. Andrew was soon followed by a daughter, Ingrid, and a few years later by another daughter, Ericka.
Kamilla handled the logistics of their business. At home she was a gracious hostess, opening their home to relatives, friends, and strangers. She took in a Russian family to live in their basement. She made room for a student from Kenya. She gave temporary refuge to a troubled teenager and to a homeless woman with mental illness who declared that Kamilla’s home was “safe.” When Kamilla sold a home to a Black professor and his family, she received threats and complaints from neighbors. A group of African American women in State College presented Kamilla with a book of pictures and tributes for the help she had given them and their families.
When their children were 6, 11, and 13, Ralph and Kamilla volunteered with AFSC once again, building housing for squatters outside of Kafue, Zambia. She organized a group of 80 high school students who came from Lusaka as part of a workcamp to make enough bricks to build an elementary school.
When State College Meeting outgrew their building, Ralph agreed to build a new one. Kamilla helped select an architect, ordered the materials, and paid the workers.
Although Kamilla never asked for membership in State College Meeting out of respect for her Catholic mother’s feelings, she was considered a member of the meeting and served as an active member of various committees. Kamilla served on the board of Housing Transitions, further contributing to her lifelong dream of equitable housing for all.
Ralph and Kamilla were an essential part of the committee that decided to build Foxdale Village. Kamilla arranged financing for the project and created committees to decide on paint and carpeting. She handled the bills while Ralph managed the work crews. She purchased and planted trees, shrubs, and groundcover, as the cottages were finished. She supported the early residents, many of whom were Quakers, in developing committees. When the Community Center opened, she ran the kitchen for six months, serving 80 people a delicious Austrian meal on the night the dining room opened.
Nothing was more important to Kamilla than her family, most of whom lived within a few miles of her at the time of her passing. She is survived by her husband, Ralph Way; three children, Andrew Way (Cindy), Ingrid Thompson (Michael), and Ericka Way-Ahn (James); seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.