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.
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
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."
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
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
Secretary of Servas in 1978, Reva took it upon herself to ensure
that Servas was represented in a broad range of peace
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
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.
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.
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
Ray Scott, International
President of Servas