From The Daily Item, Tuesday April 29, 2014
By Evamarie Socha
Lewisburg – Friends and colleagues around Lewisburg are remembering Douglas Sturm, 85, who died Sunday, as a compassionate, steadfast champion for social justice and a mentor who loved peace and equality, wanted them to flourish and inspired others to make a difference.
“There are volumes anyone could write about him and what he means to the community,” said Cynthia Peltier, co-founder of the CommUnity Zone in Lewisburg, who called Sturm her mentor. “There are a lot of hearts broken today. We’ve lost a brilliant light.”
Sturm’s activism for social issues runs long and deep in Lewisburg. Peltier recalled Sturm’s first group, Alliance for a Better Lewisburg, founded in January 1993 as a forum to discuss and stimulate projects. The group ended in 1994 but soon was followed by CARE, the Community Alliance for Respect and Equality, which continues. Committed to equality, CARE supports diversity in the Valley through community activities, resources and advocating for people and groups with particular concerns.
“I’ve never met someone more committed to peacemaking,” said Father Kerry Walters, of Holy Spirit American National Catholic Church in Lewisburg, who worked with Sturm at the Center for Nonviolent Living and in Peaceway, a ministry of Christian pacifism, both in Lewisburg. “He was an extraordinary guy.”
Charles Sackrey, owner of Mondragon Bookstore, said Sturm was just in three weeks ago with his annual $365 donation: a dollar a day that gave for about five years to a used bookstore he loved. “Doug had a powerful belief in equality of life,” Sackrey said. “He was an endless defender of diversity. I know he was one of the most highly respected persons at Bucknell.”
Sturm was an emeritus professor of religion at Bucknell University and served there for more than 35 years as a teacher and scholar in political science and religion. Bucknell honored him with a forum, the Douglas Sturm Dialogue on Ethics and Social Justice.
“Doug was very much a social activist and wanted the church to be on the forefront of public policy,” said the Rev. John Dromazos, who served 14 years at Beaver Memorial United Methodist Church in Lewisburg. Sturm, in fact was pivotal in Beaver Memorial becoming a “reconciling congregation,” Dromazos said. He was very involved in a yearlong study before the vote was taken that the church go in that direction.
“He was instrumental in helping people deal with scripture passages that seemingly were prohibitive of homosexuality,” Dromazos said. “His legacy would be that he wanted people to stand for basic rights. … It might be that he really wanted the proclamation of the gospel of Christ to be effective in environment, war and peace, race relations.”
“He was a deeply compassionate man who saw life, was very realistic about life, but wanted people to live up to ideals that we all should have,” he said.
Dromazos knew in recent years Sturm hadn’t been that involved because he deeply cared for his wife, Margie, who has been under care for dementia at RiverWoods Nursing Care for several years. Walters said Sturm visited her daily to read to her and talk. “He told me once in a way that made it anything but maudlin, ‘we married till death do us part,’” Walters said.
When Sturm’s own condition recently became terminal, friends rallied to have him put in the same room as Margie. He died there Sunday with her there and with sons Rolf and Hans at his side.
Doug’s family have asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions to CARE in Doug’s name be made. They can be mailed to CARE, PO Box 250, Lewisburg, PA 17837 or you may go to the CARE website, http://care4equality.org/ and use the donate button at the bottom of the “welcome” page to make Credit card contributions. The family will be notified of your gift.