Wilbert Braxton

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Obituary from The Philadelphia Inquirer
April 18, 2000

Wilbert L. Braxton, headed Penn Charter

Wilbert L. Braxton, 88, teacher and headmaster at William Penn Charter School for 29 years, died Wednesday at the Foulkeways retirement community in Gwynedd.

For 20 years, beginning in 1947, he taught physics and chemistry at the Philadelphia school, then was headmaster until retiring in 1976.

During that time, a Visiting Accreditation Committee lauded him for having "developed a style of dealing with students and faculty which was calm but effective in leadership, quiet enthusiasm and spirited conviction."

He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Haverford College in 1976.

Mr. Braxton resided in North Wales for 38 years before moving to Foulkeways in 1985.

In retirement, he devoted much of his time to genealogy, self-publishing a book on farm life in a Quaker community. He also wrote a book on physics, Absolute X-ray Intensity of Alpha Line of Copper.

Mr. Braxton was born in Snow Camp in Alamance County, N.C., on a farm that had been deeded to William "The Planter" Braxton in 1761 by the Earl of Granville. It "is the oldest North Carolina land grant still owned by the original family," said a daughter, Nancy E. Braxton.

He graduated from Eli Whitney High School in Snow Camp in 1928 and earned a bachelor's degree from Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., in 1932. He earned a master's from Haverford College the next year, and worked toward a doctorate in physics at Stanford University in California from 1942 to 1944.

His career as a Quaker educator began in 1933 at a school in Kernersville, N.C. In 1935 he went to Friends' Boys School in Ramallah, Palestine, where he met Nina Piper Braxton, who was to be his wife of 61 years. From 1936 to 1942, he taught mathematics and science at Olney Friends School in Burnesville, Ohio, where he returned in 1944 to serve as principal for three years.

Mr. Braxton and his wife directed Quaker summer camps from 1940 to 1962, including some of the first American Friends Service Committee work camps, his daughter said.

In 1957 and 1958 he was director of the foreign student exchange program for the American Friends Service Committee, and during the Cold War he was a committee delegate to a conference in the former Soviet Union on peaceful uses of atomic energy.

His memberships included Gwynedd Friends Meeting, the Country Day Schools Headmasters' Association, and the Rotary Club of Philadelphia.

Tennis was a lifelong interest. While a student at Guilford, he was singles champion of the North Carolina State Association of Colleges in 1931 and 1932. He continued to play the sport until age 80.

Besides his wife and daughter Nancy, he is survived by children Lowell P., John W. and Jane Braxton Little; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

The family suggests contributions to William Penn Charter School, 3000 School House Lane, Philadelphia 19144.