Pauline Ross Hare

Date(s) of birth and/or death approximate

Date of Birth

October 1st, 1917

Date of Death

January 1st, 2009

Memorial Meeting

Salem Friends Meeting

Minute

Polly was born in October 1917 in Bulsar, Gujarat District in India to missionaries Amos Walter Ross and Flora May Nickey. She was the youngest of four daughters. At the age of four she moved with her family to North Manchester, Indiana, where they continued to be active in The Church of the Brethren. Her father and the church instilled in her at an early age a passion for peace. She remembered walking to and from Manchester College, where she was an active debater.

During college summers in 1937 and 1938, Polly worked as a community organizer for American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in their emergency Peace Campaign. She traveled with others to promote the idea of peace even as the country watched Europe marching toward the brink of war.

After graduation in 1938, she worked for the AFSC to organize the Institute of International Relations at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Polly traveled the West Coast, organizing speakers for peace courses at various colleges. During this work she met her future husband, Bill Hare, who was employed by AFSC. Her work with AFSC continued as a community organizer in the summer of 1939 when she traveled to Oklahoma and in some towns worked alone- a real challenge for a young woman speaking on the increasingly unpopular topic of peace.

In 1939 she and Bill Hare were married and they traveled to northern Mexico, still under the auspices of the AFSC, where they helped in constructing a school. As the United States came closer to entering the war, she and Bill decided that Bill would become a conscientious objector (CO) rather than participate in the war. Bill was sent to a camp in California and Polly moved to Whittier, California to be closer to him. She worked for a doctor to support herself and Bill. Networking with other women, the League of Women Voters and Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) sustained her during this difficult time of separation and cultural disapproval.

After the war, in 1948 Polly and Bill and four other CO couples purchased land in California where they communally farmed and raised their families. Polly and Bill’s children, Dan born in 1950 and Sue in 1952, grew up in this intentional community. While living on the farm, Bill worked for the State of California Youth Authority until he retired in 1969 and Polly was raising their family. In 1969 Polly and Bill moved to a small farm in Keizer, Oregon where she took a major role in nurturing and sustaining Salem Friends Meeting, bringing her membership from San Fernando Friends Meeting. She became active in the League of Women Voters and 4-H programs, while raising sheep and learning to spin and weave both at home and with other weavers at Mission Mill in Salem. Polly worked for the City of Salem as a community liaison with neighborhood associations.

In 1983 Polly was a co-founder of the Salem, Oregon Peace Plaza and the Peace window exhibits of the Salem Library. The Peace Plaza includes a large mural, fountain, and a wall of peaceful quotes and flags of the UN and Salem’s sister cities. Polly also co-founded the Annual Peace Lecture series, which features a prominent speaker and presents annual awards to a local citizen for their efforts toward peace. Both Polly and Bill were recipients of the Salem Peace Award, Polly in 2001 and Bill in 1991.

Polly served on the Board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and was an active member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, City Watch and League of Women Voters. Since 2001, until her death, each week Polly stood with others on a downtown Salem street corner, holding signs for peaceful resolution of problems, not wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her numerous ‘Letters to the Editor’ in the local newspaper were evidence of her long-held beliefs.

After Bill’s death in 1991, Polly moved to Salem from Keizer. Since 2002 Polly lived in a communal residence, locally referred to as the “Peace House.” Polly loved being part of a community and throughout her life pursued her passions of weaving and growing flowers. She loved music and singing. Polly died at home, where for weeks prior to her death she enjoyed the near-constant flow of visitors for poetry readings and impromptu mini-concerts to sing Polly’s favorite songs. She was heard to say, “I never thought this would be so much fun”. One of her final wishes to a friend and local politician was that if he were to become governor of the state, he would work to establish a statewide yearly Day of Peace.

Polly died peacefully with friends and loved ones close by. She was preceded in death by her husband Bill in 1991 and her daughter Sue in 1982. She is survived by her son Dan Hare and his wife Lotus, who live in Longmont, Colorado.