Notes about people

March 24, 2011

Martha Roy, a Presbyterian mission worker in Egypt her entire adult life, died March 8 in Cairo, two weeks short of her 98th birthday. Services were held March 10 at Kasr Dobara Church in Cairo. 

Born in Tanta, Egypt, of an American father and mother, Roy lived in Egypt most of her life, going to the U.S. only for college at Muskingum College in Ohio and graduate school at Columbia University in New York.

A gifted musician who spent some time in the U.S. as a young girl studying piano, Roy returned to Egypt immediately after earning her Master’s degree in music from Columbia and embarked on a teaching and missionary career that spanned more than six decades.

She first taught music, English and French at the mission school in Luxor for 20 years and then served for 15 years at the American College for Girls in Cairo, now known as Ramses College. She also taught music at Helwan University.  

Roy was particularly renowned for teaching Egyptian folkloric music, including songs of the Egyptian heritage, she had collected herself, like Bafta Hindi, and many others. “Music is very elusive,” she said. “Once it is gone, it is gone forever.” Through her interest in music, she also became an expert in Coptic hymnology and liturgy.

Roy was frequently honored for her work ― first by Gamal Abdel-Nasser in the ‘60s, and later with the Decoration of Excellence by Anwar El-Sadat.

# # #

The Rev. A. David Bos, a longtime peace and justice advocate in the PC(USA) and leader of Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care and of the national single payer movement, died on Feb. 12 following a brief illness. 

With his friend Hal Sanders of Pittsburgh, Bos led the effort to win PC(USA) General Assembly support for single payer health care. He led workshops throughout the country to raise awareness and support for a single payer health plan for the U.S.

Bos, a committed ecumenist and community organizer, was active in the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association, serving as co-chair of the Presbyterian Association for Community Transformation,one of PHEWA’s networks. He served churches in Olean and Rochester, N.Y., and was the founder of Smith Haven Ministries on Long Island, one of the first community ministries in the country, and later served St. Matthews Area Ministry in Louisville and Interfaith Community Ministry in New Albany, Ind.

He was a co-founder of the Louisville Metropolitan Housing Coalition and a founder of the national Interfaith Community Ministry network. He wrote two seminal books on community ministry ― A Practical Guide To Community Ministry (Westminster John Knox, 1993) and Bound Together: A Theology for Ecumenical Community Ministry (Pilgrim, 2005). At the time of his death he was writing a work on the issue of fair housing for the disenfranchised, tentatively entitled Sheltering the People.

He is survived by his wife, Johanna W.H.van Wijk-Bos, a professor at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary; a son, J.Martin Bos, daughter-in-law, Kimberly Bos, and granddaughter, Emma; a son, Stephen Van Kuiken and a daughter, Julianne Zinn, and their spouses and children; and brothers Thomas Bos and Philip Bos and their spouses and children. 

A memorial service was held Feb. 18 at Louisville’s Central Presbyterian Church.

# # #

The Rev. Perry Harvey Biddle, Jr., a Presbyterian minister and longtime leader in the Presbyterian Writers Guild, died Feb. 10 in Nashville, Tenn.

A memorial service was held Feb.19 at Second Presbyterian Church in Nashville.

Biddle is survived by his wife, Sue; his two children and their families, Perry Biddle, III, and Lindsay Louise Biddle; and by his sister, Stella Biddle Fitzgerald, and her family.

# # #

J. Mahlon Buck Jr., 85, a Presbyterian elder and part-owner of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team, died of heart disease March 16, at home in Bryn Mawr, Penn.

In 1981, Buck and his two brothers were among the limited partners who bought the Phillies for $30.2 million. According to published reports, the Bucks’ share at the time was about 30 percent.

Buck was an elder at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, where his memorial service was held on March 19.

  1. I am with Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care. I had the privilege to work with David Bos as we sought to educate and organize to win national single payer health care so that everyone would receive all the care they needed regardless of their economic means. David emceed our events, some from the back of a red pick up truck. He prayed at our vigils for those who died from lack of care. He led our education on immigrants and taught us about the necessity to cover everyone. David’s lasting contribution is revealed in the work of the Presbyterian “single payer overture.” In 2008 David, Hal Sanders of Pittsburgh, and others persuaded the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA to approve this: “The General Assembly will advocate, educate, and pursue the goal of single payer universal national health insurance as the program that best responds to the moral imperative of the gospel.” After passage of a health care bill in 2009 David together with Rob Stone, an ER physician in Bloomington, Indiana, projected a new way to build this movement. Citing the successful campaign to end apartheid in South Africa by asking individuals and institutions to withdraw their investments, David developed a vision for divesting from for-profit health insurance companies—because such companies by their nature are immoral and profit from the denial of care and coverage. David chaired the national workshop on divestment at the Healthcare NOW conference last November and wrote the statement to take to the Presbyterian Church and to others. The statement includes: “Whereas the actions of for-profit health insurance companies have brought untold suffering and hardship in both the private and public spheres and have obstructed the development of healthier individuals in a healthier society.” Therefore—the church is asked to report and act on divestment. David was working on this when he was taken from us. David led Louisville in non violent civil disobedience in a sit in at Humana Corporate Headquarters on Oct. 29, 2009. We were nervous. David was calm. David delivered a letter to the guard asking to speak with the CEO about ending denial of coverage and care to patients. The CEO would not talk with us—but he feared that arrests would bring more publicity—so they let us stay in the lobby—overnight. We worried over what might happen. David wrote poetry. When the morning broke the TV reporters were knocking on the door asking for an interview. David, will you do it? Yes, he said, as he rose to his full height, his clerical collar peeking from beneath his yellow “Patients Not Profits” T shirt, his posture as straight and tall and upright as his principles, David walked across the marble floor, faced the camera and eloquently stated the cause for which we fought. Health care as a human right in this nation, implemented through legislation, will be his legacy.

    by Kay Tillow

    April 2, 2011

  2. I am still so saddened by the untimely and unexpected death of Rev. David Bos. I was just getting to know him, having worked with him on a number of actions and efforts in support of universal single payer healthcare over the past 4 years. We were working together to build support in the Presbyterian Church for the idea of divesting the Church's stock holdings in for-profit health insurance companies. These Wall Street giants are the greatest barrier we face in achieving affordable, guaranteed healthcare for all, I believe. I miss David today and will miss him for a very long time. What a man he was.

    by Rob Stone MD

    March 31, 2011

  3. David was such a wonderful partner in justice. He served for many years in leadership with the Presbyterian Health, Education, and Welfare Association (PHEWA). He was so faithful at church, presbytery, within the community ministry and housing communities...never afraid to be counted among those demonstrating for justice for all. Kudos to PHEWA for recognizing him with the John Park Lee Award when they gather in New Orleans. We would honor him by continuing his quest for single payer health reform.

    by Nancy Troy

    March 28, 2011

  4. I had the very great privilege of meeting David through Hal Sanders, in our collective activism for national, not-for-profit, single-payer healthcare. David is one of the most extraordinary individuals I have ever met and will remain an inspiration to me as I continue the mission he so strongly believed in. He made an indelible mark on the movement and will be sorely missed. My sincere condolences to Johanna and all of David's family on their great personal loss.

    by Sandy Fox

    March 26, 2011