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Wilbur H. Ferry

Wilbur H. 'Ping' Ferry (December 17, 1910 – September 30, 1995) was an American activist and philanthropist.[1]



Ferry was born in Detroit on December 17, 1910. He attended the University of Detroit High School where he was a star football player. After high school, Ferry went on to Dartmouth College, earning his A.B degree in 1932. He worked as an instructor at the Choate School from 1932-1933. Next, he entered the profession of journalism, which he worked at from 1933–1935 and from 1937-1941.

Ferry married his first wife, Jolyne Marie Gillier in 1937. He served as Director of Public Relations for the CIO: Political Action Committee in 1944. From 1954-1969 Ferry was Vice President of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. The two were divorced 35 years later in 1972, which was a year before Wilbur Ferry met his second wife, Carol Bernstein.[2] Immediately after marrying, the two started playing an active role in human rights, political causes, prevention of environmental problems, and the overall struggles of places such as Africa. Ferry organized the exploratory project on Conditions for Peace in 1974. The work with Africa began in 1976 and didn't end until 1987 when he organized the Citizens for Peace Treaty.

In 1968, he signed the "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest" pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.[3] During his politically active years, he was noted for his outspoken position against the death penalty. Wilbur H. Ferry died on September 30, 1995 at the age of 84,.[4]

He was often criticised for his work, and in the Philanthropy Roundtable, an article about Ferry stated that: "If you were in trouble with the law in the 1970s and 1980s, knew who Ferry was, and told him you were a political prisoner, he would provide bail".[citation needed]

DJB FoundationEdit

Funded with money left over from Carol Bernstein Ferry's first marriage, the DJB Foundation was the start of the Ferrys' contributions to many small groups and different causes all around the nation. Among the main recipients were philanthropy groups dedicated to human rights, economic recovery, and the anti-war effort. The Ferrys gave out smaller sums of money than many other organizations did because they believed that giving out huge amounts could "corrupt and distort" an organization's goals.[5] Many causes received two hundred dollars or less.

The Ferrys set out with the goal of donating all their six million dollars within ten years, though they met the goal in about four and a half years. Mrs. Ferry explained that giving all the money away made sense to her because "they could know the needs of the present, but not of the future." [6] Some of the larger efforts supported by the DJB included the Inter-Religious Foundation for Community Organization, the Youth Project, and San Francisco's Young Adult Projects. Among the political action groups they supported were the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center for Constitutional Rights. Among the environmental groups were the Africa Fund (a non-profit organization which gives finance and expertise to "sustainable development projects" in East Africa.[7]


  1. ^ Trohan, Walter (17 August 1962). "Who Is Wilbur Ferry?". The Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Retrieved 24 December 2009. [dead link]
  2. ^ Martin, Douglas (June 14, 2001). "Carol Bernstein Ferry, 76, A Supporter of Leftist Causes". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 December 2009. 
  3. ^ "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest" January 30, 1968 New York Post
  4. ^ Pace, Eric (October 3, 1995). "Wilbur H. Ferry, 84, Executive With an Iconoclastic Viewpoint". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 December 2009. 
  5. ^ Carol Bernstein Ferry and W.H. Ferry Papers, 1971-1997, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, University Library, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.
  6. ^ The Carol Bernstein Ferry and W. H. Ferry Oral History, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, University Library, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.
  7. ^ Africa Fund

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