Feb. 15, 1996
Vol. 15, No. 11

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    Obituary: William Alvin Pitcher, Divinity

    William Alvin Pitcher (A.B.'34, M. Div.'39, Ph.D.'55), Associate Professor Emeritus in the Divinity School and a longtime national and local civil-rights activist, died Feb. 6 at his Chicago home. He was 82.

    Since his retirement from the Chicago faculty in 1977, Pitcher had been minister of social concerns in Hyde Park's University Church. While at the Divinity School, he taught social ethics and helped shape the nature of research in the field of ethics and society.

    Pitcher was the author of many articles and reviews on social ethics. In 1994, he published "Listen to the Crying of the Earth," which dealt with the connection between theology and environmental issues.

    He was involved in civil-rights activities from 1937 on and served in 1940 as associate director of the first interracial Quaker work camp.

    In 1965, he served as coordinating director of Martin Luther King Jr.'s marches in Chicago in support of open housing. That same year, as a staff member of the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations, he provided organizational support for more than 100 civil-rights marches. In 1965, he received the Edwin T. Dahlberg Peace Prize from the American Baptist Convention.

    A former member of Operation Breadbasket and a supporter of Operation PUSH, Pitcher was instrumental in the founding of the Covenant Development Corp., which has rebuilt and refurbished buildings in Woodlawn.

    Pitcher was born in Downers Grove, Ill. He graduated from the College in 1934 and received his M.Div. from the Divinity School in 1939. He was ordained by the Congregational Church in 1940 and taught at Denison University in Ohio until 1952, when he returned to Chicago and joined the Divinity School faculty. He was appointed Assistant Professor in 1955, the same year that he earned his Ph.D. from the Divinity School. He became Associate Professor in 1961.

    Survivors include his wife, Sara; two daughters, Betsy Rieke and Cathy McGregor; three sons, Hugh, Charley and Paul; and nine grandchildren.

    The family requests that contributions be made to Woodlawn Development Associates or the Social Justice Fund of University Church.