David S. and Mary W. Richie Papers
9.5 Linear Feet (19 boxes)
David Shoemaker Richie, 97 years, 4 days, (July 11, 1908), of Moorestown, NJ, died peacefully Friday morning, July 15, 2005, at the home of his daughter. A birthright member of the Society of Friends, he was the son of Edward Laurence and Anna Bailey (Shoemaker) Richie of Moorestown, NJ. He married Mary Wright, of Norristown, PA on June 8, 1935, at Norristown Meeting House; she preceded him in death, Sept. 12, 1977.Work camps involve volunteers who labor together on community service projects and interact with members of that community. The concept of work camping had originated in postwar Europe in 1921, under the direction of Swiss pacifist, Pierre Ceresole. The AFSC began its involvement with Work Camps in 1934 when a water pipe was laid to a community of miners in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. David Richie and wife-to-be, Mary Wright, were participants in the first AFSC camp. The following year they served as residents in a program at the AFSC Bedford Street Mission (Philadelphia) while he was still teaching at Moorestown. Richie brought the program to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 1939 when he was appointed Secretary of the Social Order Committee. He originated the idea of weekend work camps in 1940, as a way to draw more young people into an awareness of social justice.
After graduating in 1930 from Haverford College -- where he had been an all-American soccer player with two of his brothers Robert and Tom -- he returned to teach social studies for nine years at his high school alma mater, Moorestown Friends School. From 1939 to 1973 he served as executive secretary of the Friends Social Order Committee of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. By 1940 he had established the concept of weekend work camps promoting educational opportunities for students to understand economic and social injustices, just as his parents had taken him on weekly trips to North Philadelphia to help provide for the poor when young. Weekend work camps became a 33 year commitment.
In 1946 he was asked by the Foreign Services Section of the American Friends Service Committee to start the concept of work camps and cooperatives in Poland and Finland. With the help of British Friends, he distributed clothing, food, medical supplies, and later helped with reconstruction in England, Finland, Germany, and Italy. This was the start of a lifetime devoted to serving others through work camp programs worldwide, putting into action his personal philosophy of work is love made visible. By 1953 the Yearly Meeting’s weekend work camps had grown to include 730 volunteers from 36 schools, engaged in 54 weekend work camps in West Philadelphia and Mantua neighborhoods, -- invited into the homes of 200 local families. David and a number of other PYM employees continued this work until 1973 when he retired, having served for 34 years -- possibly the longest-employed person in the history of our yearly meeting. He was the author of several publications. In 1973 he was presented with a unique honorary degree from Wilmington College (Doctor of Human Reconstruction).
In the late sixties he launched Friends Housing Incorporated for low income families in Mantua, a community in South Philadelphia. A love of his was transporting Mantua adults to surrounding Friends’ meetings, and organizing outings for their children to Friends’ farms and lakes became a tradition during his retirement years.
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