The late Dr. Ruth Lofgren was a scientific and environmental pioneer, a philanthropist dedicated to a multitude of causes, and a long-time AFSC supporter who said that the organization's work for peace with justice spoke to her own core beliefs.
"The worth of every person and the power of love to overcome injustice—this is the essence of what I believe," Dr. Lofgren said, echoing the underlying tenets of AFSC's work as she explained why she was such a steadfast supporter.
Dr. Lofgren was born in 1916 into a devout Mormon family in Utah. A scientist with degrees in microbiology and chemistry, she helped pioneer electron microscopy and, in the 1960s, was one of the first practitioners of what was then a relatively new field called ecology. She began attending Quaker meeting during her years as a graduate student at the University of Michigan and was deeply moved by what she saw. "I watched people in Quaker meeting being so simple and quiet and unassuming about their good works," she recalled.
After joining the faculty at the City University of New York (CUNY), Dr. Lofgren continued attending Quaker meeting and became a Quaker in the late '60s. When she retired from CUNY, Dr. Lofgren moved to San Antonio, Texas, where she was active in science, justice, and environmental education.
It was through her Quaker connections that Dr. Lofgren first learned about AFSC's work during both world wars. She was particularly impressed with AFSC's Eyes Wide Open exhibit, which has been in San Antonio twice.
"San Antonio is ‘Military Town, USA,' and there's been strong opposition to the exhibit," she said. "It's a realistic statement of how destructive war is, but here it's seen as a pacifist statement. When people see the lines and lines of boots, it's a shock."
Science and the natural world had always fascinated Dr. Lofgren, who also focused on issues of consciousness and the spirit. "We are all incarnate spirits, with body, mind, and spirit. I have a deep conviction that the spirit goes on indefinitely, and I'd like to see us develop a conceptual framework that includes the spiritual component along with the physical and mental," she said.
Dr. Lofgren included AFSC in her will and established gift annuities as well as a charitable remainder trust with the organization, which benefitted AFSC and provided her with a steady income during her lifetime.
"I want to have the good work that AFSC and others do continue, especially for those who can't help themselves," Dr. Lofgren explained. "I'm trying to do my share for future generations."