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Freethought Mourns Stein, Jokinen

The freethought movement lost two major figures during August: editor-bibliographer Gordon Stein and Ingersoll activist Ruth "Dixie" Jokinen.

Gordon Stein, a senior editor of Free Inquiry and Director of the Center for Inquiry Libraries, died on August 27 in Buffalo, N.Y.. He was 55. One of the founders of Free Inquiry, Stein also edited The American Rationalist. He wrote or edited numerous books on atheism, humanism, and the paranormal, including The Encyclopedia of Unbelief and The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal. He was almost certainly the foremost collector and historian of atheist and freethought literature. (More detailed obituaries appear in Free Inquiry, Fall 1996, p. 45.)

A humanist memorial celebration was held on August 30 in the reading room of the Center for Inquiry Libraries, which Stein helped found. Family members, Center for Inquiry staffers, and leaders in the humanist and freethought movements attended.

Ruth "Dixie" Jokinen died on August 17 in Ridgewood, N.J.. She was 76. For 40 years she ran an innovative private school and worked for civil rights and church-state separation. Her heroes were church-state attorney Leo Pfeffer, Thomas Paine, and Robert Green Ingersoll. After the Council for Secular Humanism purchased the Dresden, N.Y., Ingersoll birthplace in the mid-1980s, "Dixie" shocked Ingersoll fans around the country by picking up stakes and moving to Penn Yan, N.Y., just three miles from the then-dilapidated birthplace. Her energy, creativity and dynamism helped to ensure the building's successful rehabilitation and its opening as a museum in 1993.

Family members, local Ingersollians, and Center for Inquiry staff attended a memorial celebration at the Ingersoll Museum on September 8.


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