Ted's siblings describe his preparation for life
Gary Studebaker: Ted grew up in a church, like I said before, one of the peace churches, Church of the Brethren. Not only was the church influential to him, but he genuinely came to that conclusion that, you know what, I need to serve people.
Doug Studebaker: Ted was in Vietnam working as an agriculturist in Church World Service. It was in partial fulfillment for his conscientious objection stance with our military draft.
Gary: He went over there with some experience. We came from a 140-acre farm in southern Ohio, so he had a lot of farming experience. And so he took those skills over with him.
Doug: He didn’t have a problem going to war, but he wanted to be a peace worker.
Gary: When he was 18 years old, all individuals declare where they stand with the draft. And he wrote a letter to his draft board. He says I realize that 90% of the people my age will go into the military, and he accepted that, but he said my journey is different.
Mary Ann Cornell: I think Ted was very driven. He finished his undergraduate work in three years. So, he was a hard worker. He got the most out of his classes as he could.
Gary: Here was a man who went to Manchester College. He was a sociology and psychology major. He studied people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He studied Martin Luther King. He was genuinely interested in these martyrs, in these peacemakers. And he went to Florida State and got his social work degree. Ted was very people oriented. He was ready to take a look at life, see what needed to be done, and do something about it. He was setting out to do what he felt this world needed—somebody who was willing to be a worker, to bring people together. If it wouldn’t be with agriculture, which it was with him in Vietnam, it was with his guitar, bringing people together with his guitar. He knew how awful and how much killing was going on in Vietnam. But yet, he also knew that he needed to take a stand. Ted was not going to be silent.
Doug: Before he went to Vietnam, he asked some very probing questions. Can I really make a difference there, I mean, or am I just going to be another American in the midst of all this turmoil? I think he hadn’t found all those answers but enough that he went.
Ron Studebaker: I had a discussion with Ted when shortly after, I think, he finished at Manchester College, and he very clearly said that he wanted to serve other people. That was prominent in his thinking and his expression. And I remember he felt that he needed to further his education, and then just get out and participate, and get involved in a longer journey. He knew that I had experience in overseas volunteer work, and likewise Gary, but he asked a lot about that. One of the things in a letter he said to me, that stuck with me, he said you know, I think I’ve learned in my short time that you must stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.
Mary Ann: Our mother always said that Ted was a serious thinker even at a very early age. He was fun loving, but he considered a lot of things, I think, earlier in life than most people do. And therefore his life was different than most people’s.
Ron: It was a matter of conscience. And he followed that conscience.
Ted's Essay: My Rights and Values as a C.O.
Image of original essay courtesy of Gary Studebaker.