Sheldon Griswold Weeks

Weeks—Sheldon Griswold Weeks, 90, on May 4, 2022, peacefully, at home in Brattleboro, Vt. Sheldon was born on November 18, 1931, to Harold Eastman Weeks and Virginia Travell Weeks in Manhattan, N.Y. He grew up in Brooklyn and graduated from Brooklyn Friends High School in 1949. One of his first acts of activism was when, at the age of 12, Sheldon went door-to-door to collect food for Japanese Americans in internment camps.

Sheldon earned his bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania in 1954; master’s from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, in 1960; and doctorate from Harvard University Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, Mass., in 1968. He was a professor specializing in comparative education at universities in Uganda (1969–72), Tanzania (1972–74), and Papua New Guinea (1974–91); was founding dean of graduate studies in Botswana (1991–2002); and was chairperson of the University of Papua New Guinea University Press.

He volunteered with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, War Resisters League, and the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. He was arrested and imprisoned in the Tombs (Manhattan Municipal Jail) for not taking shelter during an international air-raid drill, a law later voided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sheldon was president of the Southern African Comparative and History of Education Society (1998–2002); editor of Southern African Review of Education (1996–2004); and foundation director of the Evaluation Services Team–Botswana (BEST for short, 1997–2013).

He helped to form organizations that were partially funded by the Gandhi Foundation; the Friends Neighborhood Group that ran a school in East Harlem; and Sheffield Projects in Massachusetts, which ran a summer workcamp for youth from East Harlem and a second-chance school for dropouts.

Sheldon was a conscientious objector during the Korean War. He worked for American Friends Service Committee in New York City for five years (1954–1959) as projects secretary and then youth secretary.

Sheldon became a member of Brooklyn Preparative Meeting in 1956, formalizing his long journey to Quakerism. While in Botswana, he joined Botswana Meeting and served as clerk of the Central and Southern Africa Yearly Meeting. He edited the Southern Africa Quaker News and helped manage the Kagisano Society’s Women’s Shelter Project—the only women’s shelter in Botswana—and the Kagisong Centre, a hotel and conference center whose profits helped fund the shelter.

In August 1957, at the Fifteenth Street Meetinghouse in New York City, Sheldon married Sara “Sally” Shoop. They welcomed their daughters, Sara (1958) and Abigail (1960), both born in Brooklyn. In Uganda, he met Mary Kironde, whom he married in 1964. They had two children, Harold (1964) and Edisa (1966), both born in Boston, Mass. Gudrun Schulz Gay, his third wife, joined him in Papua New Guinea in 1980. Their daughter, Kristina (1980), was born in Port Moresby, PNG.

In June 2013, Sheldon experienced double pneumonia with complications to the heart. As a consequence, that November, Sheldon and Gudrun moved to Vermont to live with their daughter, Kristina, in Brattleboro. They transferred their memberships to Putney (Vt.) Meeting and were active attenders of the West Brattleboro Worship Group. Sheldon regularly attended New England Yearly Meeting sessions.

In June 2021, Sheldon was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

Sheldon was predeceased by his three wives, Sara “Sally” Shoop Shaw, Mary Kironde Weeks, and Gudrun Helga Weeks; a sister, Virginia Davidson Weeks; and a brother, Willard Travell Weeks. He is survived by five children, Sara Weeks, Abigail Weeks, Harold Weeks, Edisa Weeks, and Kristina Weeks; two stepchildren; one unofficially adopted child; 14 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and a sister, Elinor Weeks.

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