William “Bill” J. Lovett, died peacefully in the home he built outside Visalia on July 3, 2018. Bill’s life was lived in accordance to his deeply held Quaker values. He dedicated his life to serving others, promoting peace and equality and creating a better more caring world for all.
Bill was born in Pennsylvania in 1923, on a farm his ancestors were deeded by William Penn. He graduated from Westtown Quaker boarding school in 1941 and volunteered for an American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) work camp in Mexico. His deeply held pacifist convictions led to a decision not to cooperate with the military by registering for the draft or accepting Conscientious Objector status. He was sent to Lewiston Prison for the duration of WWII. There, along with other prisoners of conscience, he worked to end racial segregation in the prison. He was paroled to Chicago where he worked in a hospital and studied at the Chicago Art Institute.
In 1947 Bill married his first wife Janet. They moved to New Jersey in 1948 to join Dave Dellinger in creating a community devoted to peace activities and establishing a printing business. Their daughter Linn was born in 1948. Following their divorce, Bill and Linn continued to live in Glen Gardner community.
Bill met Elizabeth “Beth” Sanger in the course of conducting business with her father’s print shop. Bill and Beth were married in 1955 and had five children together between 1956 and 1965. In 1966 he moved with his family to California to work for Self Help Enterprises, an organization started by the AFSC to help low income families build affordable homes. Bill worked at Self Help for 23 years and greatly valued the importance of this work.
Bill volunteered with many programs and was especially happy to work with AFSC Farm Labor Committee and Proyecto Compesino, the Tulare County Peace Committee, Habitat for Humanity and Radio Grito. He was a speaker for Mothers Against Drunk Driving after his only son was killed by a drunk driver in 1983.
Bill and Beth purchased 25 acres east of Visalia in 1979. Bill designed and built their passive solar home, barns and gardens taking pleasure in repurposing other’s discards into beautiful and useful items. They called it Quaker Oaks Farm and established a cut-your-own Christmas tree business. Bill and Beth became aware of the ancestral importance of the land to the Native American community, and they readily embraced the Wukchumni tribe and provided access to the land for tribal gatherings and cultural regrowth, a treasured relationship that continues today. A garden plot for Oaxacan immigrants to grow organic food was provided and the Mixtec Community Garden became a thriving garden that continues to this day.
Bill’s faith and the Friends community were always central to his life. The Lovetts donated two acres of land to Visalia Friends to build a meetinghouse. Bill designed the meetinghouse which is noted for its simple beauty and serenity.
Bill grew to love this land and saw the importance the land had to different aspects of the diverse community. He wanted it to be preserved as a place where many different people could come together to learn from each other and the natural world, promoting peace, community, equality and environmental sustainability. Bill and Beth donated the farm to Visalia Friends Meeting in 2014 and with like-minded friends, established a nonprofit corporation called Quaker Oaks Farm which is dedicated to furthering these efforts to better the community.
Bill is survived by his loving wife, Elizabeth, his daughters Linn, Jane, Sarah, Melissa and Amy, 7 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren.
A memorial service was held at the Visalia Friends Meetinghouse on July 28, 2018.