Monday, December 7, 2015

On December 3, 2015 I (Jessica) posted a remembrance of my brother on Facebook.  I'm posting it again here, so that it is accessible to friends who are not on Facebook.

"I am thinking of my brother, Jeremy Mott, who would have turned 70 today, had he not died in 2012. He was knowledgeable, responsible, and committed, but he could also be unhappy, dogmatic, and intimidating. Having him as a brother was interesting, but not always easy. I loved him. Some of my fondest memories from my childhood include his showing me how dictionaries include information on etymology, and the variety of sounds that Louis Armstrong made with his trumpet. More recently I counted on Jeremy as a major reference source about our personal history, and regret that I postponed many of my inquiries until it was too late. I miss him.
In going through old family photos, I have been struck by how often he smiled during his younger years, and how devoted he was to his sisters, wife, and daughter. I attach a few of these photos here. I’ve also attached a copy of an obituary that we wrote for Quaker publications, since I was not active on Facebook at the time of his death."

Expanded Obituary on Jeremy Mott for Quaker Publications
February 19, 2013

Mott – Jeremy Hardin Mott, 66, died of an intestinal hemorrhage on September 2, 2012 in Roanoke, VA.  Jeremy was born on December 3, 1945 in New York City to Kathryn Hardin Mott and John Colman Mott.  He was the eldest, with three younger sisters.  When Jeremy was still a baby, his parents joined Ridgewood Friends Meeting as convinced Friends and also added him to membership.  Growing up in Ridgewood, NJ, and Rochester, NY, he actively participated with the rest of his family in the local monthly meetings as well as New York Yearly Meeting.  Summer sessions at Farm and Wilderness Camps, VT and three years at Sandy Spring Friends School, MD (class '63) also shaped his early Quaker experience. During the late 1950s and early 1960s he attended the Easter peace vigils in Times Square and in the summer of '63 he joined the March on Washington, just before attending Harvard University for two years. 

Since early childhood, Jeremy was fascinated with trains.  At age 8, after being interviewed by the station master in NYC, he was allowed to take the train by himself to visit grandparents in Florida.  As a teenager he once rode the entire NY subway system on one token, and also began a collection of timetables which enabled him to give detailed advice on passenger routes for any destination.  When he took a break from Harvard, he followed his life-long love of railroads, working for the Erie Railroad.  

No longer protected by a student deferment, he was drafted in October 1966. He obtained conscientious objector status and joined the Brethren Volunteer Service, serving three months at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, MD and four months at Bethany Brethren Hospital in Chicago.  However, to strengthen his protest against the Vietnam War and the draft, he burned his draft card at the April 15, 1967 Mobilization Against the War in New York City.  Together with others, he founded the Chicago Area Draft Resisters, CADRE, whose members still treasure how much they learned from him about Quaker ways of working well together in groups.  In his individual witness, he resigned from BVS writing:  “Both the joy which comes from acting in accordance with one’s conscience and the agony which comes from facing the risks of such action obscure the real agony of the Vietnam situation…By affirming the value of the lives of people and denying the righteousness of murder and slavery we can at least help keep some vestige of brotherhood a reality among men.”  His letter to the Selective Service System stated “My job, as a pacifist and as a person opposed to this war in Vietnam, is to resist our warring government, including the Selective Service System, rather than to seek special privileges from it.”  In December 1967, he was one of the first in the country to go to trial for resisting the draft.  He was the first to receive the maximum prison sentence of five years, which was reduced on appeal to four.

Upon his release from prison in 1969 on parole after 16 months of imprisonment, he worked for more than three years for the Midwest Committee for Draft Counseling, the Chicago office of the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors.  There he wrote and published a regular newsletter about draft law, which was sent to 5,000 counselors nationwide who helped young men consider alternatives to military service.   He and his new wife also were living below-taxable income in order to avoid supporting the military. Both before and after prison, he was an active member of the 57th Street Friends Meeting.    

Jeremy met Judith Franks at New York Yearly Meeting in 1969. They married in 1970 under the care of Summit (NJ) Friends Meeting and settled together in Chicago. Their daughter, Mary Hannah was born in 1974.  Jeremy obtained his BA from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 1975.  The family moved to NJ in 1976, living in Hoboken, Ridgewood, and then Hackensack.  He worked for Amtrak, as a dispatcher.  During this period he rejoined Ridgewood Friends Meeting and was active in New York Yearly Meeting.  He also served on committees for what is now the Center on Conscience and War in DC, and also for the Farm and Wilderness Camps in VT. 

Jeremy was extremely knowledgeable about many subjects and passionate about sharing his interests. His daughter notes that she could happily listen to him talk for hours about history, geography, transportation, and music, and that many of his interests are now hers.   
He was a one-man Quaker information center, a constant reader of the Quaker press with contacts in every corner of the Quaker world, and he often provided unique insights.  Before he adopted e-mail, several Quaker periodicals would receive letters-to-the-editor from Jeremy in his novel format: a series of post cards. He would start writing on one post card, then continue on with as many as it took for him to express the complete thought. Eventually he joined the online world, and contributed comments to various blogs and discussions. 

Especially during his final decades, he faced serious health problems. In the 1990s, he was belatedly diagnosed with bipolar disorder and then developed problematic blood clots and Parkinson's.  In spite of several hospitalizations, he continued to work until he retired on disability in 2000.  As his health deteriorated, Jeremy and Judy moved in 2009 from NJ to a new home in Roanoke VA to be nearer to their daughter.  Although he had not yet transferred is formal membership, he was active in Roanoke Friend Meeting, where he struggled in with his walker and shared his knowledge of Quaker history with members and attenders, several of whom were relatively new to Quakerism.  In spite of his health problems he also maintained his online communications, until his unexpected sudden death.
Besides his wife Judith Franks Mott and his daughter Mary Hannah Mott, he is survived by his mother, Kathryn Hardin Mott, his sisters Margaret Mott, Jessica Mott and Bethany Joanna Mott and their families, and Mary’s partner, Jacob Wise.