Swarthmore Friends Meeting

Swarthmore, Pennsylvania







Memorial Minute for John Honnold


John Otis Honnold, Jr., Swarthmore Meeting member, died at Crosslands, Kennett Square, PA , January 21, 2011. He was 95-years-old. Before moving to Crosslands in 1994, he and his family lived on Rutgers Avenue , Swarthmore.

 He was a Professor of Commercial Law Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and an expert in private international law, who was known as the father of the Vienna Convention.

 John joined Swarthmore Meeting in 1956.  Later he transferred to Scarsdale Meeting, NY, while he was the leader of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), 1969-1974. While heading UNCITRAL, to best accommodate conflicting views, he used a procedures that bears a striking resemblance to those of a Quaker Meeting—by using consensus. UNCITRAL has yet to take a formal vote. The legislative texts have been adopted unanimously. How can decisions be reached without voting? John’s central point in using consensus was that the representatives want the Commission to succeed, and are willing to support the group's best efforts. He rejoined Swarthmore Meeting in 1974.

 During the hunt for U.S. communists after World War II, John was one of eight University of Pennsylvania law professors who signed a statement against the proposed Subversive Activities Control Act of 1948.

 In 1963 he, along with 46 other lawyers, called on Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace to abide by the order against blocking the registration of two African-Americans at the University of Alabama . That year he helped form the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to address the racial emergency.  He and his wife resigned from the Swarthmore Swim Club when it racially discriminated.

 John was a director of the American Friends Service Committee and a member of its Executive Committee.

 When not engaged in legal endeavors, he loved listening to opera and classical music. John taught himself to sail and to play several musical instruments. He liked to accompany himself as he sang out LOUD.  His family remembers that while crossing on the ferry, he would haul out his accordion and belt out the sailors’ tune, Eddystone Light.  He tried to teach himself to waltz, samba, and, even, to do the “frugge”… marking the footsteps on their basement floor. Annamarie suggested he just relax, and dance.

 At his memorial service, his family characterized him as smart, wise, fair, disciplined, tough, good-humored, courageous, kind, and generous. He often told his children that the world could be a better place if everyone did their part.

 John is survived by his wife of 71 years, Annamarie; by children, Heidi Spencer and Edward Honnold, by five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. A memorial service was held Saturday, February 5, 2011, at Crosslands in Kennett Square, PA. The family requested contributions be made in John's honor to the American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia .

 Compiled from information at John’s memorial by Swarthmore Meeting’s Care and Counsel Committee