Stephen G. Cary, 86, Former Acting President of Haverford College and Antiwar Activist
â€œSteve Cary was full of life, a lover of learning, and totally committed to his Quaker spirituality,” says Tom Tritton, president of Haverford.“All who knew him will miss his reassuring presence.”
Cary, a resident of Haverford, Pa., was born in Philadelphia on September 21, 1915, and graduated from Germantown Friends School in 1933. He received a bachelor's degree in economics with a minor in chemistry from Haverford in 1937 and a master's in international administration from Columbia University in 1943. He worked in the accounting department of General Electric Company from 1937-39 and as a building materials salesman for the John Manville Sales Corporation from 1939-41.
He was a conscientious objector during World War II and served in the Civilian Public Service from 1942-46. For two years he was the elected director of two camps in Big Flats, NY and Elkton, Ore. He also directed the CPS Overseas Training Unit at Swarthmore College in 1943. He served on the board of Wilmington College in Ohio from 1952-58.
Between 1946 and 1969, Cary was an integral part of the American Friends Service Committee. With Willis Weatherford, he served as chief of American Quaker Relief Operations in Europe from 1946-48, overseeing work in 10 countries dealing with the aftermath of WWII; the Quakers earned the 1947 Nobel Peace Prize for these humanitarian efforts. In 1955, he was one of five Quakers who took a 12,000 mile tour of Russia in an effort to develop better understanding between the United States and the Soviet Union. During his years with the AFSC he held various positions in the National Office of the Committee, including Director of Youth Services; Secretary, American Division; and Associate Executive Secretary. He chaired the AFSC committee that produced the landmark 1955 document“Speak Truth to Power,” an analysis of great power relationships from the pacifist point of view.
In 1965, Cary undertook a fact-finding mission to South Vietnam to explore whether the people there had needs the AFSC might be able to fill. The report was the basis of Quaker service programs in Vietnam for the next decade. Cary himself became an ardent supporter of the antiwar movement. He fasted for a week in 1971 in front of the White House with five clergymen as part of an ecumenical protest against the war, and was part of a 1972 group that tried to block the loading of the USS Nitro, which was taking on ammunition for use by aircraft carriers in Vietnam.
No less devoted to other social justice causes, Cary demonstrated before Congress in 1968 in support of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the Poor People' Campaign in Washington, D.C. In 1969 he represented the AFSC at a seminar designed to develop contact among the young leaders and professionals of newly independent African nations isolated from one another because of earlier ties to France and Great Britain.
Cary began his service to Haverford College as a member of the Board of Managers from 1955-69. In 1969 he joined the staff as vice president of development, and became vice president of finance and development in 1974. He was named acting president of Haverford from 1977-78. He served as senior vice president of the College from 1979-81 and was clerk of Haverford's faculty meetings during these three years.
He was a favorite among the students, faculty, and staff of Haverford. In 1973 he received the College's Varsity Club Award and Martin Foss Award, the highest award of the Students' Association. He was elected an honorary member of the class of 1978, and was awarded honorary LL.Ds from Swarthmore in 1979 and Haverford in 1981. His annual greeting to first-year students introducing Quaker practices and the Haverford Honor Code earned him the affectionate nickname“Mr. Haverford.”
“At Haverford, Steve Cary was more than just a respected figure,” says Greg Kannerstein, current Haverford athletic director and class of 1963 alumnus, who served as dean of student affairs and head baseball coach under Cary's administration.“For generations of Haverford students, he was the embodiment of the College's values and philosophy.”
Cary was chairman of the AFSC from 1979-91 and clerk of Germantown Monthly Meeting from 1991-97. In his spare time, he enjoyed a variety of adventurous excursions. He hiked in the Himalayas and around Pakistan's Baltoro Glacier, sailed around the Horn on a 100-foot schooner, followed Darwin's path in the Galapagos Islands, and went bare boating (sailing with no hired hands) in the Pacific Ocean with six other octogenarians.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Elizabeth; his sister, Comfort Richardson; his children, Anne Sampson, Charles Cary, and Dorothy Cary; and seven grandchildren.
A memorial service was held Friday, August 2 at 3:30 p.m. at Yarmouth Friends Meetinghouse in South Yarmouth, Cape Cod, Mass. Another service will be held in the Philadelphia area on Saturday, September 14 at 3 p.m. at Germantown Friends Meeting. In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to the American Friends Service Committee, Haverford College, or Germantown Friends School.