In Memoriam: Chuck Harker
By Edward Snyder on 10/24/2012 @ 01:00 PM
In this guest post, former FCNL Executive Secretary Edward Snyder remembers a prominent member of the FCNL community, Chuck Harker.
Chuck Harker is a prime example of those local Friends who give up their current, often well paying, occupations to serve in Quaker organizations. In Chuck’s case, he left his job at Caterpillar Tractor in Peoria, Illinois, to come to Washington with Eleanore and their three children to take on administrative duties at FCNL.
One of Chuck’s first jobs was to complete the renovations of two buildings that became 245 Second Street, and to move our offices from our previous location just down the street at 104 C St. NE, that had been taken over for parking for Senate employees.
On our small staff, Chuck dealt with a broad range of administrative, financial and personnel issues. In 1967, when I was on leave to work in Singapore for the Conferences for Diplomats and Young Leaders, Chuck was named “acting executive secretary” in my absence. Those two years from the summer of 1967 to the summer of 1969 were two of the most turbulent years in FCNL's--and U.S.-- history. Martin.Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated. Cities, including Washington, burned. Peace candidates emerged and Johnson refused to run. Then Nixon narrowly defeated Hubert Humphrey for president. Chuck actively represented FCNL when the Poor Peoples Campaign came to town, and he helped organize the National Council to Repeal the Draft and served as chair of its Executive Committee.
In the years since Chuck left the staff at FCNL, I understand from Friends in Maryland that Chuck served in many capacities, including as a leader of Friendly Gardens, a low income housing development in Silver Spring started 40 years ago by local Quakers. His work for peace was recognized by many, including for example in 1991 when Chuck was included among 52 “veterans of social change” who were profiled in a War Resisters League Peace Calendar.
In an interview for a Green Party publication in Maryland, writer Diane Cameron recalls the War Resister Peace Calendar and offers this remembrance of what Chuck said at a Montgomery County Council meeting in Gaithersburg when he and others were urging passage of a resolution against the Iraq war in 2004:
"....I speak as a Navy veteran of World War Two, with the lingering guilt for our destruction of the innocent men, women and children of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, even as our armed forces had defeated the armed forces of Japan and victory was in sight ... I come to you out of a sense of patriotic duty because of my deep concern that a unilateral decision by the President to go to war, even without there being an imminent danger, would be a disaster for our County, our State, and our Country, possibly even our Earth."
All of us in the FCNL community are holding his wife Eleanore and the rest of the family in the Light.