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H. Jerry Voorhis (1901-1984)

 

Horace Jeremiah Voorhis was born in Ottawa, Kansas on April 6, 1901 to Charles Brown and Ella Ward (Smith) Voorhis. Although well educated and from an affluent family, after graduating from Yale in 1923, he chose to work in a factory, a freight yard, and on an assembly line, reflecting his sensitive social conscience and lifelong personal identification with those who were poor and struggling. In 1924 he married Alice Louise H. Jerry Voorhis (1901-1984)Livingston and the following year became a teacher at the Allendale Farm School for underprivileged boys in Lake Villa, Illinois. He and his wife then moved to Laramie, Wyoming, where he organized a boy's orphanage, the Dray Cottage Home for Boys, at the request of a family friend who was an Episcopal missonary bishop. The young couple raised enough money to house and take care of some twenty-five orphans. While in Wyoming, Jerry received a proposal from his father, then retired and living in Pasadena California. Charles Voorhis had decided to start a combined home and school for orphaned or underprivileged boys and asked Jerry to consider being headmaster of the Voorhis School for Boys in San Dimas, California. Jerry accepted and the family moved to Claremont, California where he earned a M.A. in education from Claremont Colleges Graduate School, writing his thesis on "The Education of the Institution Boy."

Jerry Voorhis worked as headmaster of the Voorhis School from 1928 to 1938, during which time he was elected to Congress. From 1936 to 1946, Voorhis served as congressman from California's 12th District. Following his defeat by Richard M. Nixon in 1946, Voorhis turned his energy to the Cooperative League of America, serving as president and later as executive director. To Voorhis, cooperatives were the means by which people could work together peacefully giving mutual aid in everyday economic activities. After retirement in 1967, he continued an active life of service. He was deeply concerned with solving such problems as the arms race, the disadvantaged, aging, health care, and corporate control of the economy. He died September 11, 1984 in Claremont, California. H. Jerry Voorhis was an educator, congressman, Christian, a cooperative leader, an author, a poet, a humanitarian, and according to many who knew him, he was a "truly great human being".

H. Jerry Voorhis wrote the following:

The Education of the Institution Boy (M.A. thesis - 1928)
The Story of Voorhis School for Boys (1932)
The Morale of Democracy (1941)
Out of Debt, Out of Danger: Proposals for War Finance and Tomorrow's Money (1943)
Beyond Victory (1944)
Confessions of a Congressman (1947 and reprinted 1970)
The Christian in Politics (1951)
American Cooperatives: Where They Come From, What They Do, Where They are Going (1961 and reprinted 1973)
Credit Unions: Basic Cooperatives (1965)
The Strange Case of Richard Milhous Nixon (1972 and reprinted 1973)
Cooperative Enterprise: The Little People's Chance in a World of Bigness (1975)
The Life and Times of Aurelius Lyman Voorhis (1976)
Confession of Faith (1978)
Poems (198-?)

Titles about H. Jerry Voorhis:

Calderwood, Arthur - The Careers of Jerry Voorhis (1969)
Balch, John T. - Richard M. Nixon vs. H. Jerry Voorhis for Congress, 1946 (1971)
Bullock, Paul - Jerry Voorhis, the Idealist as Politician (1978)

 
 

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