Mary E. Starkweather-White

Starkweather-White—Mary E. Starkweather-White, 67, on July 9, 2019, all too suddenly. Mary was born on October 18, 1951, in Wilmington, Del. A member of Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) for over 30 years, her first date with Earl White was walking with the Pacem in Terris for the American Soviet Peace Walk in 1988. They married and continued their Pacem work through the Delaware Committee for Racial Justice and Harmony (then the Delaware Committee for a Free South Africa), which started the Delaware Soweto Festival in 1990. She and Earl coordinated the poetry readings at the opening reception, which featured spoken word, visual art, and music, continuing to do so through the twenty-third and final Soweto Festival in the summer of 2012. In 1997 she joined the Pacem in Terris Board and often served as secretary.

A faithful and tireless member of Appoquinimink Meeting in Odessa, Del., she served as recording clerk; historian; trustee; and member of the Advisory Committee, Committee on the Care of Meeting, Records Committee, and Female Benevolent Society. She was the consummate recorder, and her ministry of minutes also extended to Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty from 1992 to her death.

She put theory and faith in human goodness and kindness into practice with Restorative Justice initiatives, the Pacem in Terris Pardons Project, and returning prisoner support group New Beginnings/Next Step. Instrumental in arranging programs such as the Avodah Dance Ensemble residencies at prisons, in 2003 she initiated and secured funding for the Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution art project. She was active in the Quaker Hill Historic Preservation Society, including several years as salaried executive director, and she energetically promoted Underground Railroad activities. At the time of her death, she was coordinating Moving Forward, a peer-support group for returning prisoners, and serving as secretary of the Pacem in Terris Board.

She drew and painted portraits; did archaeology and ancient history; was a great Scrabble player; and loved travel, reading, and museums of all sorts—especially natural history. She let her life speak; Friends will sorely miss her uplifting smiles and encouraging ways. Those who depended on her minutes, volunteerism, diligence, generosity, goodwill, humor, friendship, and wisdom regard her as the Saint of Second Chances. Along with Bryan Stevenson, one of her heroes, she believed that “each one of us is more that the worst thing that we have ever done.” She turned this conviction into life-changing opportunity, acceptance, and encouragement. Her heart was limitless in its goodness, and memories of her friendship and her quiet but endless service will continue to give Friends the energy needed to carry on in her spirit.

Mary is survived by her husband, Earl White.

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