Part 3: Legacy

Ted's siblings discuss his legacy


Doug Studebaker: Sort of a compelling thing that we learned when we traveled to Vietnam, Gary and I, was that there was a perception of Americans to this day, 41, 40, 50 years later, from the war, and two separate people remarkably said to us, separately, “We didn’t know that Americans had such strong family ties.” And it made me think, back in 1970—69, 70, as we were escalating the Vietnam War, I distinctly remember a general stating that these people don’t have feelings like we do. The reporter stopped the camera and asked this general, “Wait a minute; you don’t mean to say that.” And he said, “No, that stands. These people don’t value life the way that we do.” I think it’s human nature just to not understand other people, people that are different, and I think Ted felt that one of the ways that you really show compassion and learn yourself, culturally are enriched and so forth, is by venturing out, and he did that.

Gary Studebaker: We met five people who knew Ted. One was “a little boy about 15 years old,” he said, “when Ted was in our village.” He said, “You know,” he said, “Ted used to . . . he knew that my parents needed money, and Ted just gave us some money one time and said nothing about it.” He’s telling us this 41 years later. And we just felt this was an unusual experience Ted is giving us to see the kinds of things that he did in Vietnam.

Each of the siblings sent Doug and I seeds. We sat down with our host, Mr. Giau in Di Linh, and he said, “Sure, we can help you disburse those seeds.” So we gave them to Mr. Giau, our host, and he and one of Ted’s friends, they scattered the seeds for us.

Our family has some tradition here of planting a tree when a loved one dies. So we went over with that thought: Well, maybe we can plant a tree after we get there. And we were successful at . . . our host in Di Linh where Ted worked, took us to a nursery, and asked us to pick out a tree, and we bought a tree while we were there. And so he said, “You know what, you can plant that on my property.” And that’s precisely where we put that tree in honor of Ted. We feel that was an answer to prayer that we were able to get that tree in his honor, which is still there in Di Linh to our knowledge, and scatter some seeds as a way to show our love for Ted and the kinds of things he did.

Mary Ann Cornell: I think Ted’s life has really has affected me in ways that . . . just dealing with things in everyday life. I think of him frequently. How would his response be? One of the members of our church in West Milton has written a children’s book about Ted. That’s been many years ago, but we still have responses occasionally from people who say, “Tell me about your brother.”

Ron Studebaker: Out front, I think it’s a story of courage, and we all have had responses, read letters, and heard from people who never had any inking of who Ted was, but read his story of what happened in his short life. And that’s terribly awe-inspiring to somebody, especially somebody who’s not sure where they’re headed and where they want to go with their life.

Lowell Studebaker: I think Ted would say, “Live a good life. Do what you believe in. Do it well. Treat people kindly. Do the right thing.”

Ron: I think it is important to do what your conscience dictates.

Linda Post: I think we all have God-given talents. And after seeing Ted’s life, we need to use them. We need to find them and use them.

Gary: Find your strength. Find the things you think you can do, and see if you can make a contribution to making this a better world.

Ron: Even amongst evil there is always a way to find good. There is always a way to bring out the best and to bring out the positives and not dwell on the negatives.

Gary: I don’t think Ted would want us to remember him as a hero. I think he would want us to find what it is you can do in this life.

Lowell: If there were heroes in peace, Ted would be a hero just like once in awhile they single out a soldier as a hero. But he wouldn’t want to be . . . he wouldn’t want to be considered for that role, nor do I think we consider him for that role. I’m proud of the guy for what he did and the stand he took and the people he helped. I’m happy to talk about Ted and share his story.

Gary: People are going to come to this Dayton Peace Museum and not only learn about Ted but other people who work for peace and justice. It’s going to be a wonderful—and for many people a life-changing—experience when they learn about these people.

Lowell: I always felt Ted took the road less traveled, but it was the road that had an answer to what was in his heart.

Nancy Smith: Our perception of peace that, you know, is more embedded in that thought process and helps us in our own lives. And quietly, maybe quietly, it influences other people around us.

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Ted and Pakdy visiting her family in Hong Kong and announcing their upcoming wedding. Photo courtesy of Gary Studebaker. 

Holding flower seeds for planting in Ted's memory. Photo courtesy of Gary Studebaker. 

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Planting a bougainvillea tree in Ted's memory. Photo courtesy of Gary Studebaker.