Milestones March 2015


Belanger-Satullo—Nicole Belanger and Nathaniel Erb-Satullo, on October 4, 2014, at Hancock Shaker Village, Mass., under the loving care of Old Chatham (N.Y.) Meeting, where Nathaniel is a member. Nat and Nicole are currently attenders at Cambridge (Mass.) Meeting.


Bott—Lawrence Milton Bott, 87, of Altamonte Springs, Fla., on August 7, 2011. Larry was born on February 18, 1924, in Reading, Pa. He had a degree from Stanford University and a doctorate from Howard University, and his work life included regulating civilian aviation for the federal government. He was a World War II veteran and shared stories of shipboard life with a few friends, once expressing the wish that his ashes be scattered into the sea from a ship like the one on which he had served. He was a brilliant cook; a skilled gardener, architect, electrician, and carpenter; importantly he was a master student of the human condition. He called the meeting held in Quaker House Living Room in Washington, D.C., which especially welcomed gays, lesbians, and transgenders, his primary spiritual community. Earlier, he had attended worship at the Gay Community Center. When that group moved to Friends Meeting of Washington (D.C.), which, after an extended, sometimes painful process of discernment, agreed to welcome them, he in time followed. In 1990 he transferred his membership to Friends Meeting of Washington from Langley Hill Meeting in McLean, Va. Once out, Larry was in! He served as alternate clerk of Ministry and Worship Committee, a member of Personnel Committee, a teacher in First-day school, an instructor in Inquirers’ Classes (using his mastery of the Socratic method), the organizer of an important retreat held in 1990, and a member of a Finance and Property Development Subcommittee. Despite his committee service, he wrote to the presiding clerk in 1992 expressing unease at Friends’ usual way of dealing with issues—by assigning problems to committees. He urged Friends to ask searching questions about the physical, personal, psychological, and spiritual conditions that have historically guided Quaker involvement in secular life. During the 1990s, he sat weekly with a friend who had Alzheimer’s disease to give his wife respite. That experience led her, with Larry’s help, to form Friends Club, a group for men with Alzheimer’s that Sargent Shriver and the husband of Sandra Day O’Connor attended. He hosted committee members in his tea house in a wooded area behind his Vienna, Va., home, serving dinners he had cooked. Although friendly, Larry was reserved about his personal life and circumstances. Friends knew that he often struggled with self-doubt and fell short of his own expectations, but he was guarded in expressing his depression and his feeling that he had let his wife and family down by not being the person they expected. His high standards for himself gave him a dark view of his achievements. But his willingness to struggle gave him insights to share with the meeting. He helped community appear in the midst of confusion using skills from his work life: listening with an open mind, expressing serious opinions in measured terms, and suggesting innovative solutions. He talked with frightened, sad young people struggling with their sexuality and served on AIDS Memorial Quilt visits and the AIDS Coffee House. Friends recall his intensity, his capacity to take on tasks or burdens for a friend, and his willingness to laugh at himself. Henry Burton Sharman, who informed his generous and open understanding of traditional Christianity, was his most important spiritual guide. In 2002, he moved to Altamonte Springs, Fla., for what were said to be health reasons. He is survived by his wife, Shu-Ying Chen; and his three children, Ross Alan Bott, Steven Eric Bott, and Alethea May Bott Blanton.

Davis—Martha Lou Davis, 61, on October 8, 2014, in Los Alamos, N.M. Martha was born on August 20, 1953, in Dallas, Ore., to Crystalle and Paul Davis. She grew up in Willamette Valley Quarterly Meeting, attending Salem (Ore.) and Corvallis (Ore.) Meetings. After high school in Corvallis, she attended Earlham College for a year before transferring to University of Oregon, where she received a biology degree. She worked for the U.S. Forest Service in central Oregon and earned a doctorate in biology from University of Colorado, writing her dissertation on populations of Douglas fir trees so that she could work mostly in the field rather than in the lab. She was active in Young Friends of North America during graduate school and belonged to Boulder (Colo.) Meeting, serving as recording clerk. During this time she met Jonathan Thron. After a postdoctoral position at Ohio University, during which she attended Athens (Ohio) Meeting, she taught at University of Michigan-Flint. In 1987, she and Jonathan married under the care of Boulder meeting and moved to the Chicago area for his work as a physicist. Downers Grove (Ill.) Meeting remembers her promoting native plantings around the meetinghouse, caring for ill Friends, and “her skill as clerk, understanding all concerns and beautifully capturing the sense of the meeting.” She taught briefly at Northwestern University and then gave presentations to garden clubs and organizations and taught classes through the Morton Arboretum. In 1990, she and Jonathan moved to Bolingbrook, Ill., and she transformed their yard with retaining walls and a fishpond, enriched the soil, and planted a variety of unusual trees and shrubs. Martha often combined the natural world with other arts. When Jonathan’s work took him regularly to northern Minnesota, she often went along to photograph animals, landscapes, water, and ice formations, publishing some of these photos. She also made exquisite ceramic bowls with leaf imprints and taught others how to use the fruits, vegetables, and herbs she grew. In 2005, she and Jonathan moved to Los Alamos, N.M., for his work, and she again bloomed where she was planted, researching xeriscaping and permaculture and making their yard a model for indigenous and low-water plantings and water catchment and storage. She taught classes at Pajarito Environmental Education Center and worked at the Alcalde Sustainable Agriculture Science Center, monitoring and selecting jujube trees that would do well in New Mexico. Her skill in fruit tree grafting (e.g., over 100 varieties on a few trees in her backyard) led to her being asked to teach the Oklahoma National Guard techniques to help farmers in Afghanistan improve their yields. She served on Santa Fe Meeting’s Ministry and Counsel Committee and took part in Los Alamos Worship Group. Diagnosed with cancer in 2010, she researched treatment options and embraced alternatives with a scientific basis. Steadfast in her own care and staying connected with her many friends, weeks before her death she was able to attend a ceremony at the Los Alamos Master Gardeners’ demonstration garden, where its fruit tree grove was named Martha’s Orchard. She was kind and wise, called by a Friend a true Quaker elder. In a life characterized by love and caring, she had moved often, and in each new home she left a double legacy: service to her Quaker meeting and care for the natural world. Martha is survived by her husband, Jonathan Thron; a sister, Joy Ragsdale; two sisters-in-law, Penelope Thron-Weber and Karin Thron; two brothers-in-law, Peter Thron and Rajinder Thron; and nieces and nephews.

Smith—James William Smith, 71, on January 10, 2013, in Berkeley, Calif. Jim was born on May 4, 1941, in Joplin, Mo., to Sylvia Lola Oxford and Frederick Orren Smith. He spent his high school years in Phoenix, Ariz., where his father was stationed in the army, playing chess in high school and at age 18 winning the city chess championship in a match pitting him against a chess master from Los Angeles. After high school he went to California and worked for the California Highway Patrol. He met and married Nan Louise Brown in 1965. While with the CHP, he became interested in the Berkeley protest movement and wrote a well-received report about the People’s Park riots. Beginning graduate work at Wright Institute in Berkeley (even though he had no formal higher education), he met Jack Sawyer, who became a lifelong friend, and in whose house Jim lived for 18 years. At Wright Institute he began in-depth studies of Carl Jung and had a pivotal life experience with his only LSD experiment, describing it as both wonderful and terrifying. Afterwards he began a descent into mental illness that led to the dissolution of his marriage in 1972 and over 50 involuntary hospitalizations in psychiatric wards over the next 30 years. In the early 1970s, he began attending Berkeley Meeting. Friends recall his introducing himself as “Marine Corps General James W. Smith, commander of all covert action military forces in the United States,” or sometimes, usually more privately, as “Jesus Christ returned to earth as a mental patient.” For many years he joined others at the Circle of Concern vigil held at the entrance to the University of California, witnessing against the university’s nuclear weapons development. He assisted the director of the Berkeley Area Interfaith Council (BAIC) and applied for membership at Berkeley Meeting in the late 1980s. It was a challenge for the meeting to reconcile the peace testimony with his military delusions. A series of clearness committees wrestled with his request and met frequently with him for about four years, and the meeting accepted him as a member in 1990, on the basis that it would not create barriers for the mentally instable any more than it would for the physically handicapped. Jim immersed himself in a study of religion and spirituality, reading the I Ching several times, using it as an oracle for his ideas. Besides attending Quaker worship, he regularly attended mass at the Catholic Newman Center in Berkeley and once described himself as a “Roman Catholic Quaker.” In later years he suffered significant physical health setbacks, including colon cancer that resulted in removal of much of his intestine. At about this time his mental condition stabilized under medication, and he had no psychiatric hospitalizations for his last fifteen years. Credit for this stabilization goes to the Berkeley mental health community; a stable living situation; the support of the Berkeley Center for Elders’ Independence; and especially his long-time therapist, who together with him embarked on writing a book to be called The Long Session: Jim’s Recovery from 40 Years of Mental Illness. There is hope that a portion of this work will be published on the web. Following a months-long stay in a convalescent home after a fall, he died in the room he had lived in for many years, surrounded by friends. Those who knew Jim found him to be a remarkable, unforgettable human being.

Weaver—David Scott Weaver, 70, on May 5, 2012. David was born on December 10, 1941, in Chicago, Ill., one of two brothers. He went east for college, graduating from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., in 1964. Ironically, David first discovered Friends at this Methodist university, where he attended meeting for worship. He moved to Los Angeles, Calif., in 1980 and began attending Orange Grove Meeting in Pasadena, Calif., in March 2006. He became a member in January 2009. His quiet nature masked a passion for ecology, which he developed into a skill as a landscaper and tree specialist, making him an invaluable member of the Property Committee, particularly in the difficult decision to remove the meeting’s beloved Stone Pine trees, which he reluctantly concluded could not be saved. Believing that without a planet the rest is irrelevant, he urged that Friends make ecology their central organizing principle for their practices. His insistence on procedures allowing all Property Committee members to weigh in on issues showed his strong sense of fairness and transparency. Although his natural temperament was largely solitary, he felt embraced by Orange Grove Meeting, especially when the meeting made provisions for him to move onto the campus after diabetes had led to the amputation of his leg. He was quite resolute about remaining physically independent; living on campus allowed him to regain his strength, attend meeting for worship, be part of a community, and retain his vehicle. Eventually he was able to give up his wheelchair, walk without the assistance of a cane, and again learn to drive. He appreciated living on the campus next to the children’s garden, amidst the laughter and play of the children.

Wetherill—John Mitchell Wetherill, 93, on May 4, 2014, in John Knox Village, Orange City, Fla. John was born on February 12, 1921, to a Quaker family in Chester, Pa. His father enjoyed activities that John was later to follow, gardening avidly and constructing building models, including one of Chester meetinghouse. A lifelong member of the Religious Society of Friends, John grew up in Chester Meeting and graduated from Westtown School in 1940, doing community service during World War II as a conscientious objector. He worked as a gardener at Swarthmore College, nurturing the beautiful rose garden there. In 1956, he married Eleanor Stratton, a conservative Friend of Columbiana, Ohio, in 1956, at Middleton (Ohio) Meeting. They had a daughter, Anita, and two other children who died in childhood. In 1986, John retired from Swarthmore. He and Eleanor moved to Central Florida the following year and then in 1993 to John Knox Village, a retirement community in Orange City, Fla. They were active in Winter Park (Fla.) Meeting and in DeLand (Fla.) Preparative Meeting, where Friends remember his bringing botanical material for the center table every Sunday, sometimes roses and daylilies that he had cultivated and sometimes wildflowers or toadstools, all arranged for contemplation of the beauty of nature. His lifelong love of plants continued to give him and others joy after his retirement. Even before his move to John Knox, he had been asked to care for its then-ragged rose garden. He planted and tended what is believed to be more than 100 trees of all types on the retirement village campus, and at his eightieth birthday celebration, he proudly displayed a large model of a sailboat that he had made. At his memorial service, his daughter, Anita, said that he was “not loud, boastful, or take-charge; he stayed in the background. . . . He enjoyed simple pleasures—a laugh with friends, a walk along the lake, birdsong, a hug or a kiss from family. He was like his favorite flowers, roses. He had many layers of inner and outer beauty.” John is survived by his wife of 57 years, Eleanor Stratton Wetherill; a daughter; a brother, Richard Wetherill, and a sister-in-law; a nephew; four nieces; and several grand and great-grand nieces and nephews.

Wolgast—Richard C. Wolgast, 88, on June 5, 2012, in Yellowstone National Park. Dick was born on October, 15, 1923, in Rochester, N.Y., the third of five children of Helen Seifert and William Wolgast, a history teacher and high school principal with a small non-commercial farm and garden, chickens, and pigeons. He began attending Deep Springs College, but in 1940, learning that his draft notice was in the mail, he enlisted in the navy and transferred to Cornell to study mechanical engineering. On finishing his degree, he was assigned to the battleship USS Indiana, arriving in Japan just after the peace was signed. He returned to Cornell for an aeronautical engineering degree, and in 1949 married Elizabeth Hankins, a student at Cornell studying philosophy. In 1952, they moved to Seattle, where he worked for Boeing and Elizabeth completed a doctorate at University of Washington. He became increasingly uncomfortable with defense work, and in 1955 he moved to Ann Arbor, Mich., for his graduate work in physics at University of Michigan. He worked as a research assistant with the bubble chamber group led by Donald Glaser, who won a Nobel Prize for this work. When the research group relocated to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) in 1959, he and Elizabeth settled in Berkeley. In 1964–1966 he helped to build a cyclotron at the Swiss Technical Institute in Zurich. Back at LBL, he worked with the design and construction of several generations of nuclear accelerators. He and Elizabeth joined Berkeley Meeting in 1967, and during the Vietnam War, active in Quaker efforts to assist draftees to avoid military service, he was one of the meeting’s first regular draft counselors. He also served on the Environmental Committee. Wanting to conserve natural resources and protect wildlife, as a member of the Berkeley Waterfront Commission, he researched and predicted the return of wildlife in former landfills such as nature preserves Cesar Chavez, Eastshore, and Shorebird Parks. He had enjoyed skiing in the Alps when he was in Switzerland, and he continued to ski into his 70s, sailed in a small sailboat on San Francisco Bay, and practiced archery. After retiring, he and Elizabeth travelled the world. In 2006, at 82, he went on a trip with his children and granddaughter to the Minnesota Boundary Waters, climbing in and out of the canoe with a cane and sharing the rowing with his son-in-law. Every year he went cross-country camping with his brother, Dave, visiting natural landmarks and camping out of Dave’s pop-up. In 2010 a stroke left him weak in his left arm and leg, but he continued to travel abroad, never missed a camping trip, and enjoyed regular get-togethers with both children, who lived in the Bay Area after 2000. In June of 2014, he and Elizabeth went on a much-anticipated tour of Yellowstone National Park. They spent the fourth day of the tour seeing the geysers and were lucky to see several geysers going off in succession. That night he died peacefully in his sleep, within sight of Old Faithful. Dick is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Hankins Wolgast; two children, Stephen Wolgast (Joanne Willis) and Johanna Wolgast; and one grandchild.

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