Biographical / Historical
Wilmer J. Young was born in 1887 in Linn County, Iowa, the son of William Penn and Mary Mott Young. He attended Westtown School and graduated from Haverford College in 1911. Young taught at Olney, Moses Brown, and Westtown. In 1918, he joined about 200 other American Quakers in reconstruction work in war-torn France. He was selected to succeed Charles J. Rhoads as head of the American Unit in 1919. Wilmer returned to the United States in 1920. His fiance, Mabel Halloway, had died while he was abroad, but in 1922, he married Mildred Binns and returned to teaching in Kansas City, Missouri. Mildred was born in 1901 in Barnesville, Ohio. The Youngs returned to Europe in the mid 1920s to work in Poland.
In 1934 he headed the American Friends Service Committee’s first work camp in Westmoreland County, Pa. Two years later the family moved to the South for 19 years to work with tenant farmers in programs spondored by the AFSC at the Delta Cooperative and Little River Farms. Wilmer then taught at Pendle Hill, the Quaker Conference Center in Wallingford, Pa., from 1955 to 1968.
Mildred also taught at Pendle Hill and wrote several pamphlets on Quaker topics and served on the board of Friends Journal. In later life, the Youngs became increasingly involved in the peace movement and non-violent activism. Wilmer participated in the Omaha Project in 1957 and A Quaker Action Group in the late 1960s and was arrested and jailed with A.J. Muste, Lawrence Scott, and others during the former. He died in Philadelphia in September 1983, and Mildred died in 1995.