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May 5, 2014

The Daily Item

— LEWISBURG — Douglas Sturm, 85, of 418 S. 22nd St., passed away Sunday, April 27, 2014, at RiverWoods, Lewisburg.

He was born April 22, 1929, in New York, moving with his family many times given the effects of the Great Depression. In his philosophical and theological orientation, Sturm has been deeply influenced by process thought, particularly its principle of internal relations. That principle led him to stress the interconnectedness of all forms of existence, and the responsibility each agent bears for the welfare of the evolving community of life. As a result, he has allied himself with the traditions of democratic socialism, nonviolence, and justice as solidarity.

On Sept. 13, 1953, he married the former Margie Jean Anderson, who survives. Together they celebrated 60 years of marriage.

Sturm graduated as valedictorian from LeRoy High School in 1947, after which he attended the Crane Hall of Music in Potsdam, N.Y. for one year. A change in career interest led him to transfer to Hiram College in Ohio from which he graduated in 1950 with a major in religion and philosophy. He went to the University of Chicago Divinity School for graduate work, receiving a D.B. in 1953 and a Ph.D. in the interdisciplinary field of ethics and society in 1959.

His graduate work was interrupted for 18 months in 1954-56 while he served as executive secretary of a national advocacy association, Christian Action, generated in reaction to the negative impact of Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist crusade on Protestant social action agencies and, more generally, on U.S. politics.

After receiving his doctorate in 1959, he joined the faculty of Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, from which he retired as Presidential Professor of Religion and Political Science in 1995, although he continued to teach part-time until 2000. At Bucknell, Sturm’s teaching career was, in large measure, interdisciplinary. Over the years, he collaborated with others in developing several endeavors, including an Institute for the Study of Human Values, a Medical Ethics Study Group, a Professional Ethics Program, a Social Theory Program, a Social Justice College, and a Peace Studies Curriculum.

Sturm received a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies to participate in a Law and Liberal Arts program at Harvard Law School as a Fellow in Law and Philosophy, where he studied with Harold Berman, Lon L. Fuller and others. Later, with a fellowship from the Society for Values in Higher Education, he did research at the British Museum on constitutional theory. In 1983-84, at the University of Chicago, he held an appointment at the Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion for research and writing on religion and public life.

Sturm has authored/edited three books, Community and Alienation: Essays on Process Thought and Public Life (1988); Solidarity and Suffering: Toward a Politics of Relationality 1998); and Belonging Together: Faith and Politics in a Relational World (2003). In addition, he has published over 150 journal articles, book chapters, book reviews, and other miscellaneous writings. He also was a columnist for Christianity and Crisis, and, was a columnist for Creative Transformation.

While at Bucknell, Sturm served at various times as chair of the Department of Religion and acting chair of the Departments of Political Science and of Geography. He received two awards for his teaching in the sixties, and was elected an honorary member of the local chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in 1972. Among other honors he received over the years, he was selected as Alumnus of the Year of the University of Chicago Divinity School and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Journal of Law and Religion.

On the local level, Sturm was given the Virginia Travis Lectureship Award for Social Justice, the Heilman Award for Social Justice of the Central PA MFSA, and the Peacemaker Award of the Center for Nonviolent Living. On his retirement, colleagues established a continuing series of Sturm Dialogues on Ethics and Social Justice at Bucknell. On the national level, Sturm was executive director and, later, president of the Society of Christian Ethics. He served as chair of the Council on the Study of Religion. He was among the founders and was the initial editorial board chair of the Journal of Law and Religion. Sturm has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Religious Ethics, Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal and the Journal of Religion.

Surviving, in addition to his wife, are two sons and daughters-in-law, Hans Sturm and wife, Jackie Allen, of Lincoln, Neb., and Rolf Sturm and wife, Leese Walker, of North Bergen, N.J.; one sister-in-law, Kathy Sturm, of Albuquerque, N.M.; and one grandson, Wolfgang Sturm.

In addition to his parents, Sturm was predeceased by a brother, Ted Sturm.

Douglas was an original founder of the non-profit organization called Community Alliance for Respect and Equality (CARE). If so desired memorial contributions can be sent to CARE, online by visiting: or make checks payable to CARE and send to P.O. Box 250 Lewisburg, PA 17837.

A memorial celebration for Douglas will be held on July 12, 2014 at Rooke Chapel on the campus of Bucknell University in Lewisburg. Times will be announced in the near future and listed on the CARE website.

The family is being assisted by Cronrath-Grenoble Funeral Home, S. Second and St. Louis streets, Lewisburg.

Expressions of sympathy may be shared at

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