Lee Donald Stern, taught inmates


Lee Donald Stern, a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy who taught Maryland prison inmates alternatives to violence, died Oct. 9 of cancer at the Friends House Retirement Community in Sandy Spring. He was 77.

A memorial service for Mr. Stern, who moved to the retirement community in 1988, will be at 3 p.m. Friday at Sandy Spring Friends Meeting House.

In the mid-1970s, Mr. Stern helped introduce the concept of teaching non-violence to prisoners in New York. In 1989, he brought the workshop -- which uses role-playing and trust-building games -- into Maryland's prisons. The technique is used in about 18 states.

In August, prisoners and staffers who participated in the Alternatives to Violence program in Maryland gave Mr. Stern an appreciation award for his work.

During World War II, the Cleveland native spent 37 months at the medium-security Federal Correctional Institute in Milan, Mich., because he refused alternative service as a conscientious objector.

In a 1991 Sun interview, he said he went to prison to prove a point about non-violence, a philosophy he had espoused since learning Gandhi's methods in 1940 at the Ahimsa Farm Community in Aurora, Ohio.

Mr. Stern helped integrate the prison by ignoring rules on segregation and joining black prisoners in the dining hall. Prison officials later ended segregation after integrating a single cell block as an experiment.

After he left prison, Mr. Stern spent two years in Paraguay with the Society of Brothers, a Christian pacifist community.

During the 1960s, he protested violence and once fasted to protest the bombing of North Vietnam.

Mr. Stern promoted non-violence through the Quaker Project on Community Conflict and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, an international pacifist organization.

He was one of the founders of the Children's Creative Response to Conflict program, which teaches children to resolve quarrels in non-violent ways.

Mr. Stern is survived by his wife of 41 years, the former Ruth Hoeniger; a daughter, Aminda Stern Baird of Durham, N.C.; a son, Christopher Stern of Glen

Mills, Pa.; a brother, Allan Stern of Cleveland; and three grandchildren.

xTC The family suggested memorial contributions to the Alternatives to Violence Project of Maryland, P.O. Box 322, Sandy Spring 20860.

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