Elton Trueblood enjoys telling his guests that he has been alive every day of the twentieth century. Those who know this 91-year-old Quaker Christian do not doubt it. His gait has slowed, his age shows in the sags and lines of his face, and his voice wavers, but he still stands tall and shakes hands with a firm grip. He somehow radiates a kind of boyish excitement as he talks about his life.

These days he lives in a retirement village near his sons in a semirural community just north of Philadelphia. His decades at Indiana’s Earlham College—teaching, writing, and directing the Yokefellow Institute—are behind him now, but not the memories. His replica of George Washington’s desk, moved from Earlham’s Teague Library, sits prominently in the living room of his one-bedroom apartment, one of the first of the furnishings a visitor notices. And the walls of the neatly kept room are hung with the memorabilia of a colorful lifetime. There are photos from his student days at William Penn College—with Trueblood as a football player, a member of the debating team, and with his future wife. In all of them, this product of a small college in Iowa seems already to have the self-assurance that enabled him to walk comfortably through the halls of the world’s most prestigious universities and be a friend to the likes of Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Trueblood went to William Penn in 1918 because it was a Quaker college, and he was Quaker to the core. What he would bring to the rest of Christendom would be derived from that tradition, and all who were touched by his ministry would taste something of this influence.

It was Quakerism that lay behind Trueblood’s bold ...

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