The year was 1938, and 11-year-old Ed Page was in Dusseldorf, Germany, for a month, waiting for the ship that would take him home to the U.S. after several years spent at a boarding school in Switzerland.
One Sunday, he ran out to play with his new German friends and experienced something he knew he never wanted to see again.
“My friends were in Hitler youth garb,” recalls Ed, a longtime AFSC donor. “I yelled ‘hi’ and they were immobilized like they were in a trance. And I remember the trains that would come by where we were staying. The men would be singing at the top of their lungs and they were similarly in the thrall of Hitler. This experience got me to be a freedom fighter at an early age.”
Ed returned home to Chicago, and six years later, at his sister Laurama’s urging, enrolled at Swarthmore College. Soon after graduating, he embarked on a 40-year career in marketing and advertising.
Meanwhile, Laurama—a major influence on her brother—spent 25 years on staff at AFSC, where she led the organization’s “quiet diplomacy” efforts that brought together diplomats from Britain, the Soviet Union, and the U.S. during the Cold War years.
“Near the end of Laurama’s work, as the [Berlin] Wall was coming down, we could sense the opening up under Gorbachev and the ending of hostility,” Ed says.
But he, too, was doing his part to promote peace. As a member of a national group called the Business Executives for National Security, Ed helped persuade the Pentagon to close several obsolete military bases and limit the production of chemical weapons.
Proud of the accomplishments of his sister and her husband, Ed decided to honor them by creating the Laurama Page Pixton and John Pixton Fund, which supports AFSC’s work to promote peace with justice. He also has remembered AFSC in his will because he believes in the organization’s ongoing work for peace.
Ed likes to tell one story in particular that, to him, encapsulates the dedication to peace embodied by his sister, her husband, and the Service Committee.
He recalls that in the early 1960s, AFSC helped refugees fleeing the Algerian War. Laurama and John Pixton were part of that effort. “My sister taught sewing, and my brother-in-law taught carpentry [to the refugees],” Ed says. “This was all aided and abetted by the American Friends Service Committee, so the organization’s activism deserves a lot of support.”