Milestones September 2014


Ridge-Simek—Alexis Ridge-Simek and Joseph Simek are happy to announce their adoption of a daughter, Aria Grace Simek, on May 16, 2014. Alexis and Joseph are members of Doylestown (Pa.) Meeting. Aria, who is now two years old, has been under Alexis and Joseph’s care since shortly after her birth in Philadelphia and placement in the foster care system. The whole family are active in the meeting, including Aria and six-year-old Fiona, who enjoys regular and enthusiastic attendance at First-day school.


Hatch-Gardner—Jenifer Hatch and Dean Gardner, both of Cincinnati (Ohio) Meeting, exchanged marriage vows in the manner of Friends on June 28, 2014. Jenifer recently received her bachelor’s degree in nutrition from University of Cincinnati.  She hopes to attend medical school and become an Ob/Gyn. Dean will soon be finishing his bachelor’s degree at Northern Kentucky University and plans to pursue further education as well. Jenifer and Dean spent their honeymoon at Friends General Conference’s annual gathering, where the theme, aptly enough, was Let Love Be the First Motion.

Whiffen-Coyle—Gail Hillary Whiffen and Christopher Aloysius Coyle, on June 14, 2014, in Newtown, Pa. Gail and Chris married in a beautiful, Quaker-inspired ceremony held outdoors at Rose Bank Winery, and in the presence of friends and family. The couple chose to do a self-uniting marriage in the manner of Friends but not under the care of a meeting. Instead, they enlisted the help and guidance of family friend Doug Faulkner, a member of Gwynedd (Pa.) Meeting (where Gail attended growing up), who also took part in their ceremony. Gail and Chris are grateful for the love and support they continue to receive from many kind folks as they journey together in life and love. The happy couple live in the city where they first met: Philadelphia, Pa.


Akins—James Elmer Akins, 83, on July 15, 2010, in Mitchellville, Md. Jim was born on October 15, 1926, in Akron, Ohio, to a tenant farmer from Georgia who had migrated to work in a rubber plant. Raised as a Quaker, Jim graduated with a major in physics from University of Akron in 1947, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, worked with AFSC and other organizations for international relief in Europe after the war, and taught physics and chemistry at American Community School in Lebanon in 1951–52. On a mostly-male transatlantic voyage to serve overseas, he met and successfully courted his future wife, Marjorie Abbott, and he and Marney married in 1954. In his 20-year Foreign Service career, Jim worked in Italy, France, Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Iraq. He and his family transferred their memberships from Brummana School in Lebanon to Friends Meeting of Washington (D.C.) in 1966, where he served on Ministry and Worship Committee. Always concerned about America’s oil use, he walked to work from Georgetown to Foggy Bottom for his work at the State Department’s top energy post that began in 1968. In 1976, while he was serving as U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, his career with the State Department ended after he said on TV that the pseudonymous author of an article advocating a U.S. takeover of oil fields must be a “madman”—not realizing that the author was his boss, Henry Kissinger. In his energy-consulting career for the governments of Japan, Great Britain, and other countries he was able to speak freely, saying that the United States had mishandled Middle East affairs; that cultures surviving for thousands of years before western involvement should be allowed to put their survival skills to work; and that given time, the Middle East and the West could share growth. Acanthus, fig trees, and flowers framed by great trees bloomed in Jim’s garden at his Washington home, and clumps of papyrus brought from the Nile grew in the decorative ponds. Inside, Middle Eastern artifacts, many of which he and Marney had dug out of the desert, were displayed in a glass-sided room with oil maps, Phoenician glass, clay shards, and ancient and weathered window frames and prayer rugs. Although Jim did not always define himself as a pacifist in the way that most Friends do (he did not regret his World War II service, saying that Hitler had to be stopped), he advised solutions to some of the world’s most complex and serious conflicts. He was also  respectful of Friends search for solutions to conflict, including Quaker presence in the Middle East from the mid-nineteenth century. He worked for greater understanding amid controversy all his life, sometimes living near harm’s way, and put his reputation on the line in very public ways. His life challenges us to ask, “What is a pacifist?” Jim is survived by his wife of 56 years, Marjorie Abbott Akins; his children, Thomas Akins and Mary Elizabeth Akins Colvill; three grandchildren; and two brothers, Kenneth and Donavan Akins.

Ansevin—Krystyna Dabrowska Ansevin, 88, on April 23, 2013, in Houston, Tex., of breast cancer, following a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Krystyna was born on April 1, 1925, in Warsaw, Poland, to Krystyna Maria and Stefan Dabrowski. As a 5-year-old, she fearlessly confronted a man beating a horse, beginning a life-long mission to defend the abused and powerless, whether human or animal. She grew up in a Poland first occupied by Nazi Germany and then by the Soviet Communist regime. During the war years, time after time she survived only through what she regarded as the Grace of God. She earned an MS in Biology from Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, and worked as a senior research assistant in the Maria Sklodowska-Curie Institute of Oncology. Beginning her PhD studies at University of Warsaw in the field of in vitro cell culture, in 1957 she became a research assistant at Columbia University, and a year later moved to the laboratory of Dr. Ralph Buchsbaum at University of Pittsburgh, where she conducted research on organ reconstruction in culture, receiving a PhD in 1961. She married Allen T. Ansevin that year and moved to New York City for postgraduate studies, first at Cornell University Medical School and later at Columbia University. In 1964, Krystyna and Allen moved to Houston and she worked as Assistant Professor of Biology at Rice University—the first female faculty member of Wiess School of Natural Sciences—with a reputation as a rigorous teacher and competent researcher. Her studies and academic articles on the population of three-dimensional organic substrates anticipated research that has led to major advances in tissue culture for medical use. She retired from Rice University in 1980. While working with the child advocacy organization Justice for Children, she began a comprehensive study of research literature on child maltreatment, although sadly, she was unable to complete this work as her Alzheimer’s advanced. Krystyna was deeply spiritual and a seeker of truth: she was a member of Live Oak Meeting in Houston, Tex., and Sri Sathya Sai Baba Society of Houston. She also attended the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer. Unbending in her principles both at home and at work, she taught the children under her care the importance of integrity and character. Krystyna is survived by her husband, Allen T. Ansevin, to whom she was a devoted life companion for 51 years; two children, Andrea Celina Ansevin-Allen (Scott) and Christopher Michael Ansevin (Deborah Gist); three grandchildren; and two “grandchildren.”

Cauffman—Lewis Baily Cauffman Jr., 63, on December 5, 2013, at home in Houston, Tex., unexpectedly. Lee was born on February 10, 1950, in West Chester, Pa., to Edith Thompson and Lewis Baily Cauffman, and grew up in New Garden Meeting in Toughkenamon, Pa. He married Leslie Manadier in 1971 and they moved to Houston for his work for the Exxon Production Research Laboratory. They became members of Live Oak Meeting in Houston in 1978 and Lee served as treasurer for several years. His faith and his Quaker background were important to him, even when he chose not to actively participate in the meeting in later years. He retired early from Exxon and spent his last years devoted to his family and his hobby of woodworking. Lee is survived by his wife of 42 years, Leslie Manadier Cauffman; three children, Lewis Cauffman (Karen), Abigail McMahon (J. Scott), and Hanna Kirby (Christopher); six grandchildren; a brother, H. Thompson Cauffman (Jennifer); and several nieces and nephews. A memorial service was held at New Garden Meeting, where he was laid to rest near his parents in the Friends Cemetery.

Keck—Winfield Keck, 95, of Boyertown, Pa., on July 20, 2013, from complications of advanced years. Win was born on September 15, 1917, in Clifton Heights, Pa., to Orpha McNeil and Charles Winfield Keck. A descendent of Joseph Sharples, a Quaker who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1682, Win was brought up in Haddonfield (N.J.) Meeting. He graduated from Amherst College in 1937 and earned a master’s in Mathematics from University of Pennsylvania and a doctorate in Physics from Brown University. While he was teaching physics at Muhlenberg College in the early 1940s, Win responded to the World War II draft as a conscientious objector, and Muhlenberg College supported his stance with a statement that his teaching of physics was essential to work involving the war. Win and his wife, Margaret Yuza Keck—known as Peggy, who also holds a degree in physics—moved to Easton, Pa., in the late 1940s for work at Lafayette College, where he taught from 1949 through 1983, served as the chairman of the physics department for 22 years, and was honored as Professor Emeritus. Win and Peggy moved to Martins Creek, Pa., in 1959, turning a stone gristmill by Big Martins Creek into their home, and Win transferred his membership from Haddonfield Meeting to Lehigh Valley Meeting in Bethlehem, Pa., where he served on Overseers Committee and as clerk. Win and Peggy were instrumental in the original planning of the annual Nazareth to Bethlehem Peace Pilgrimage that started in 1959, and he helped to establish Lehigh Valley Meeting as a Peace Center during the Vietnam War draft, providing education about the rules and regulations of the draft, the Selective Service System, and conscientious objection. Offering counseling, guest speakers, books and literature, the Peace Center became a haven for young men, including members of other religious institutions that did not support conscientious objectors. During his clerkship at the meeting he wrote a letter to President Nixon on behalf of Lehigh Friends, offering to sit in meditation with him at the White House to share a search for Truth and Light, but the White House declined, citing the demands of the President’s schedule. He also served as clerk of Bucks Quarterly Meeting, and he was the first non-lawyer appointed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Board, which investigates and recommends action of alleged professional misconduct by Pennsylvania attorneys. After Win’s retirement, he and Peggy moved to a farm in Boyertown, Pa., in 1986 and transferred their membership to Exeter Meeting in Douglasville, Pa. Here Win served as clerk for nine years, in addition to being an Overseer. Win’s family remembers him as insightful, honest, and forthright, living by the principles he learned from being a Friend. A son, Peter Keck, predeceased him. Win is survived by his wife of 69 years, Margaret Yuza Keck; three sons, Lindsey Keck, Jonathan Keck, and Timothy Keck; 14 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Ravdin—William Dickie Ravdin, 85, on March 30, 2014, passing into the arms of our Lord at home at Kendal at Longwood, Kennett Square, Pa., after a long illness. Bill was born on July 16, 1928, in Camden, N.J., to Elizabeth Glenn and Isadore S. Ravdin, of Philadelphia, Pa., and was a 65-year summer resident of Grand Isle, Vt. He graduated from Friends Central School and Swarthmore College, receiving a bachelor’s in history in 1950. His career took him all over the world, but he always returned to his much-loved Philadelphia and the many Friends schools that benefited from his wise counsel. A founding trustee of the Kendal Communities and a longtime member of its board, he was a member of Kendal Meeting in Kennett Square. Bill was a keen fisherman, woodworker, gardener, book and classical music lover, and dedicated volunteer for countless causes and organizations. Friends will remember him as a caring friend and colleague, devoted father and grandfather, and beloved husband to his wife of 55 years, Mary Herndon Ravdin, whom he adored, and who died in 2005. He is survived by his partner and companion, Katherine L. Rosier; three children, R. F. Glenn Ravdin (Kimberly), Anne Ravdin Taylor (Richard), and Susan B. Ravdin (Wilfrid de Freitas); two grandchildren; a brother-in-law, and a sister-in-law; and many nieces and nephews. Memorial gifts may be sent to the Mary Herndon Ravdin Memorial Fund, Media-Providence Friends School, 125 W. 3rd St., Media, PA 19063.

Steward—Alma Ruth Steward, 78, of Troy, N.Y., on November 5, 2013. Ruth was born on March 12, 1935, on her grandparents’ farm along the Pudding River in Silverton, Ore. Her family later moved near San Diego in California where she encountered the Japanese internment camps. Her parents befriended the interned Japanese, getting medical care for a young Japanese baby, and when one family had been denied their sugar ration, giving them theirs. Though it left Ruth without a birthday cake, this generous act resulted in a lifelong friendship extending to the next generation. Ruth graduated from high school in 1952 as valedictorian of her class. She received a scholarship to Laverne College and eventually her master’s degree in chemistry and teaching from Yale in 1959. Taking part in several AFSC youth programs, in 1961 she was a member of the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers deployed to Nigeria, where she taught math and English at University of Nigeria in Nsukka. She worked for civil rights in the summer of 1964 in Mississippi despite her family’s anxiety about her safety, heightened with death threats in the middle of the night. After this she returned to Los Angeles to teach at a high school in Watts. During a year of medical leave from teaching, she worked in the entertainment industry, seeking ways to communicate the anti-Vietnam War movement to the public. Then, concerned with the needs and rising expectations of the poor in the face of the building middle class environmental movement, she earned a doctorate in environmental toxicology at University of California in Davis in 1982 and spent the rest of her career studying environmental hazards, including dioxin, a potent toxin found in Agent Orange. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at Medical College of Virginia, she moved to Buffalo State College as a research scientist in the Great Lakes Lab. Applying to join Buffalo (N.Y.) Meeting in 1986, she wrote that she wanted to join the meeting in building a world that recognizes and nurtures human dignity. After her years of service to humanitarian causes, her membership in the Religious Society of Friends was an acknowledgement and confirmation of her beliefs more than the marking of a new journey. Long before she became a Friend, she was doing the work of peace and education, and speaking truth to power. Steady, careful, thoughtful, with a fine mind she worked hard at whatever she did, spending the last ten years of her research career as a scientist for the New York State Department of Public Health in Albany, traveling to Beijing to consult on pollution problems and to Costa Rica and Nicaragua for a water project. She retired in 2011 at 76. Her lifelong dedication to the improvement of the human condition remained a steadfast light by which many were enabled to see more clearly. Ruth is survived by her brother, Palmer Steward; her sister, Martha Porter; five nieces and nephews; and ten great-nieces and -nephews.

Terrell—Dailey Burnham Terrell, 90, on November 13, 2013, in Houston, Tex. Burnham was born on November 12, 1923, in Port Arthur, Tex., the eldest son of Myra Burnham and Henry Dailey Terrell. In 1945 he graduated from Swarthmore College, later receiving a PhD in philosophy from University of Michigan. Guided by the principle of nonviolence throughout his life, he took part in the March on Washington in 1963, followed Dr. Martin Luther King across the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., and led peaceful protests and vigils for twelve years to oppose the war in Vietnam. Following the Prague Spring, in 1968, he assisted the first students from Czechoslovakia to immigrate to the United States. Burnham was Professor Emeritus of philosophy and a founder and first director of the honors program at University of Minnesota. During his 40-year career there, he won inclusion for university faculty and staff in state health and retirement programs, assisted in establishing one of the nation’s first African-American studies programs, and wrote several widely-used textbooks on deductive reasoning and ethics. He was a founding member of Twin Cities Meeting in St. Paul, Minn. Upon moving to Houston he joined Live Oak Meeting, also attending St. Joseph’s Catholic Church with his wife, Joan Cochran Terrell. For his last 15 years, he was a key figure in the Houston Chapter of Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. He was a loving, perceptive, patient, and tender parent, and despite life-long health challenges he lived with gusto and generosity of spirit. At Live Oak Meeting, his faithful witness on behalf of brothers and sisters who were being executed by the state brought Friends together in spirit, and his activism and service inspired many young Friends. He guided business processes with wisdom and integrity learned in his long experience as a Friend. In his eighties, he brought the lovely voice of his flute to the St. Joseph’s Choir. Burnham was preceded in death by his wife, Julia Kessel Terrell. He is survived by his treasured lifelong friend, Joan Cochran Terrell, to whom he was married for 21 years; their nine children, Geoffrey Terrell, Eva Terrell, Christopher Todd, Elizabeth Todd Glandt, Carl Kessel, Cindy Kessel Bamford, Clyde Kessel, William Kessel and Thomas McNeely; 15 cherished grand- and great-grandchildren; a brother, Ralph Terrell and his family; his “Czech children” of the Zabransky/Simon family; and the fruit of his full life: countless devoted friends.

Wahl—Rosalie Erwin Wahl, on July 22, 2013, in Houston, Tex. Rosalie was born on August 27, 1924, in Gordon, Kans. Her mother died when she was three, and she moved to live with her grandparents in Birch Creek, Kans. When she was eight, her grandfather and younger brother were killed by a train, and she and her Grandma Effie moved into Caney, Kans., when she began high school. She also lost her fiancé, who was killed in an army training exercise during World War II. Profoundly influenced by her grandmother and her Aunt Sara, Rosalie first encountered Quakers in college at University of Kansas, from which she graduated in 1946, having led the YWCA to establish the campus’ first interracial student housing. She married Roswell Wahl after World War II, and they lived in Lawrence, Kans., and in Lake Elmo, Minn. A life-long poetry and book lover, she helped to develop the Washington County library system, the bookmobile, and the Lake Elmo branch library, which was eventually named after her. In 1959, she and three friends, known as the Celestial Mamas, were founding members of the Nightingales, a singing community in Northern Yearly Meeting (NYM), and she hosted the August gathering at her farm. In 1962 she entered William Mitchell School of Law, giving birth to her fifth child halfway through law school in 1964 and graduating in 1967. After passing the bar, she worked at the state Public Defender’s Office, served on the faculty at William Mitchell School of Law, and established and supervised law students in a legal clinic. In 1977 she was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court and was subsequently elected three times. Highly respected in the legal community and a role model and inspiration for all women, particularly those entering law, she chaired and oversaw two groundbreaking task forces on gender and racial bias in Minnesota’s court system. A founding member of Twin Cities Meeting in St. Paul, Minn., and of St. Croix Valley Meeting in Stillwater, Minn., where she served as clerk and on Peace and Social Concerns Committee, she was sustained by her association with the Religious Society of Friends. She served six years on NYM’s Ministry and Nurture Committee and gave a plenary address at the FGC gathering in River Falls, Wis., in 1998. She was also a founding member of Valley Peacemakers, who held a sustained protest at the Stillwater Bridge against U.S. involvement in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Despite the considerable adversity in her life, she was positive and optimistic, with a song in her heart and in her voice. Loving, non-judgmental, and compassionate, she was also feisty, with a steely resolve and a strong sense of humor. Rosalie is survived by her five children, Christopher Wahl, Sara Wahl (Michael Davis,) Tim Wahl (Carol), Mark Wahl, and Jenny Blaine (Patrick); six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

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