Salem Friends Meeting
The wife and children of Lewis M. Hoskins wish to share with you news of his peaceful passing in January 2011. We invite you to share in our gratitude to him for his life.
Lewis and Lois Roberts Hoskins have spent the past two years living with their daughter Laurie and her husband, Gerry Quarton, on the island of Kauai, following an active 27- year retirement at their Nelscott beach home in Lincoln City, Oregon. From their 90- year-old family cottage there, Lewis continued to consult and teach for many years in his life-long calling of fostering, through education and non-violent principles, respect for the intrinsic worth of all people; as well as attending to the environmental preservation of his beloved Oregon. His recent years on Kauai were quiet and filled with respectful kindness towards his human and natural environment.
Lewis’ breath stopped gently at nearly the age of 95, after a long, intensely productive, inspirational and energetic life of service. His dedication to world peace led him into many countries and profound working relationships, making life-long friends wherever he touched down. He was notably considerate and thoughtful of others in his words and actions. Although not spiritually articulated, Lewis was guided by his Quaker beliefs, giving him an enduring trust in the goodness of human life and possibilities, upheld by the quiet eloquence of the spirit. His children knew him to be generous and supportive of all their idiosyncrasies. He was a husband and father to be proud of, to cherish and to miss.
A light history of Lewis’ life, from back to front:
Prior to retirement, Lewis and Lois lived at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana for 22 years where Lewis taught history, in addition to directing the foreign study program for Earlham students and other mid-western colleges. He co-founded the Black Studies program, much enriched by his sabbatical years living in East and South Africa. Lewis traveled extensively with Lois, and sometimes with his fortunate children, to Africa and to China to teach, study and assist with grass-roots social and educational programs. He also co-founded the International Voluntary Service, which later gave rise to the Peace Corps.
Before moving to Earlham, Lewis worked for nine years as Executive Secretary of the American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia, then the recent recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He co-founded the United States South Africa Leadership Exchange Program (USSALEP) which, working with Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu, enabled black African leaders from many tribal backgrounds to collaborate with black leaders of other countries, empowering anti-apartheid momentum. Lewis helped steer Martin Luther King Jr. towards his journey to India to study Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of non-violent resistance. In the United States, under Lewis’ leadership, the Rights of Conscience program was established, providing much needed guidance and moral compass in the time of extreme anti-Communist fever. During this time the Hoskins family lived at Pendle Hill, the Quaker spiritual retreat center outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and enjoyed the dual nourishment of this and the AFSC community. Daughter Adrienne was born just before moving there and son Scott while living there.
Lewis’ work at the AFSC was preceded by three years of voluntary service in China with the non-partisan Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU). The Unit was tasked with revitalizing hospitals ravaged by civil war and bringing medical and humanitarian aid to all political factions of the country. He made a thousand mile trek, for three months crossing enemy lines under fire, to convince Mao Tse-Tung, over an all-night discussion, to let the FAU open a relief hospital in the Communist capital. He was known among his colleagues for his successful negotiations in tight spots, frequently confronting armed forces which threatened to damage medical facilities. Lewis was driven by principle and preferred not to back down when principle was at stake. When he left China, Lewis was committed to conveying to Washington DC a more realistic understanding of conditions there. Upon his return home, he devoted time to communicating recommendations from American and Chinese diplomats to US officials in keeping with his lifelong mission to create harmony and understanding among people.
Throughout his life Lewis was dedicated to the view that each person’s voice was equally worth hearing. His own principled position drove his actions but he was not an idealogue who overrode individual voices. He did not act from a political posture but from an authentic appreciation for the inner guidance within each person. It is fair to say that Lewis’ time in China was for him a deeply fulfilling time of action, commitment and service to a people he loved. Lewis and Lois’ eldest daughter Terry, born in Oregon, accompanied them, and their second daughter Laurie was born in China.
Before this, Lewis traveled across the country in pursuit of his educational degrees: a doctorate at the University of Michigan, supported by his lifelong sweetheart and new wife, Lois, following his Masters at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, and BA at Pacific College (now George Fox University) in Oregon. As a young person, Lewis dove early into a life of service, participating in work camps with the Tennessee Valley Authority and other labor relief forces, documenting these efforts on 16-mm film, traveling and teaching. He was a traveler long before roads were highways, driving his Model A Ford to Mexico several times for photo and thesis documentation. From the start Lewis was a global citizen, but did return often to Nelscott and Newberg, Oregon, where he and his sister Mary Lou were first raised by Quaker parents amongst the apple and cherry trees on Hoskins Street.
Lewis was a man more interested in seeing that things were accomplished than in being seen to have accomplished them. Throughout his life he was valued for his dedication, disarming determination, creative initiative and quiet strength. Lois, Terry, Laurie, Adrienne and Scott, their spouses, his eight grandchildren and his sister Mary Lou Kohler ask you to join us in loving, remembering and thanking him.
Gifts in his memory may be made to the American Friends Service Committee, the Lewis M. Hoskins Scholarship at Earlham College or the Lewis M. Hoskins Scholarship at USSALEP.