The Servas International News, No 36 1994

"a dreamer of a rare kind"
(June 16th 1920 - February 26th 1993)

For years, the name Reva King was synonymous with Servas. Nearly every host or traveller had heard of her through newsletter or conferences. In the US host list, Reva stated she was "homebound" and had hearing and visual difficulties, but she had had 69 travellers the year before and wanted the same number this year. I had hoped to be one of them - if only for a cup of coffee - and wrote to her. Before my letter arrived, Reva had died.

I did, however have the good fortune of being in New York for the Servas memorial service. and afterwards, felt I had known this exceptional woman as well. In the small, red brick chapel of the Friends Meeting House on Manhattan, interspersed by harp music, were remembrances of how Reva, social activist and medical social worker who moved from Kansas to New York City, gave over 35 years of her life to Servas and touched the lives of members around the world. "Servas would not be where we are today if it were not for Reva King," said someone.

Her small apartment in Greenwich Village became the Servas office, with the files kept in shoe boxes. (That office now fills three rooms with floor-to-ceilling boolshelves and computers.) She fit as many travellers into her home as possible, sometimes setting up a cot in the kitchen.

One young man remembered his 2 1/2 hour in-take interview with Reva as, "More gruelling than any job interview I'd ever had". Why so strict? Reva explained, "I'm giving the keys to the rest of the world!"

Others spoke of Reva's "indomitable spirit..a remarkable woman whose equal we shall not see again....a dreamer of a rare kind." But perhaps most important was the message "not to mourn but to do something for the cause."

Sharon Belden


In an organisation comprising people of goodwill, there are few who stand out like bright stars among the rest.

Such a person was Reva King, and it is a privilege to have this opportunity to acknowledge her contribution on behalf of the Executive Committee of Servas and, indeed, of the whole membership of Servas worldwide.

Servas is many things to many people, but to Reva King it represented the opportunity to make a tangible contribution to peace on an international scale. This she did through her tireless efforts on behalf of her continuing involvement with the United Nations.

As Peace Secretary of Servas in 1978, Reva took it upon herself to ensure that Servas was represented in a broad range of peace organisations.

In 1980 Servas was granted NGO status at the United Nations and by 1982 had eight representatives in New York, one in Geneva and one in Vienna. For the next ten years, Reva worked with the UN herself and involved a number of others as well.

Over the last ten years Reva was our representative at the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and sat on many committees or arranged for others to do so. These included Unispace, Development, Decade for Women, Committee on Aging, Committee on Youth, Human Rights, Disarment, International Year of Peace, Migration, University for Peace, and Year of the Indigeneous People.

She regularly reported activities and progress to International conferences and through Servas International News.

Reva also made a most significant contribution to Servas as its International President from 1972 to 1978. During this period membership was growing rapidly and the organisation prospered from her wisdom and sound leadership.

Reva's interests were catholic and her energy was tremendous. To those in our organisation who are inclined to become overconcerned with details of travel or hosting or procedural matters, Reva's commitment to an ideal stands out like a beacon to remind us of the basic reason for our organisation.

When her eyesight was finally failing, Reva worked hard to find loyal, capable and willing persons to step into her shoes.

We salute You, Reva, for Your life of service to an ideal. We are inspired by Your example. May you rest in peace having made Your contribution towards goodwill and peace among the peoples of this world.

Ray Scott, International President of Servas