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Pratt Spellman

ARRIVED   1903  
DEPARTED   May 28, 2000


  • His full name was Leslie Pratt Spellman ( he preffered Pratt) and there’s a 3 part biography in the Oberlin College archives where he taught music for many decades.
    part 1 http://www.oberlinlgbt.org/personal-histories/spelman-1/
    part 2 http://www.oberlinlgbt.org/personal-histories/spelman-2/
    part 3 http://www.oberlinlgbt.org/personal-histories/spelman-3/
    As mentioned earlier, from school days on, there has always been one “special” friend in his life, and there is today.

    His “great love” came late in Spelman’s life, on an occasion as serendipitous as the earlier change of classes at Michigan. He wrote to Leonard Raver, organist for the New York Philharmonic and a teacher at Julliard, to ask for the score of an unpublished work Raver was to play in Philadelphia. He asked also if he might attend both Raver’s rehearsals and his public performance.

    “Leonard send the score and said he would be happy to have me listed to both his private and public playing. I went o Philadelphia and fell in love with Leonard, without his knowing of course.

    “On returning to San Diego, I wrote to him and he replied, beginning a weekly exchange of letters and cards that lasted for twelve years until Leonard’s death of AIDS complications in 1993. On several occasions, we visited one another—wonderful times when we shared our thoughts and feelings.

    “When Leonard died, the person collecting his correspondence for thee inclusion in the Leonard Raver Archives at the Julliard School considered these letters to be too private and personal for public inspection, and so send them on to me. Arranged by years, Leonard had kept every card or letter I had written to him. Now they are my prized possessions and when at last I do get old, I may re-read them.

    “He loved me as I loved him, although we never had sex nor did I ever see Leonard nude. It was a unique kind of devotion—spiritual rather than physical, but no less complete and fulfilling. I’ll treasure the memories of what we shared so long as I am alive.”

    Spelman’s first marriage ended in the 1950s and in 1961,k he married a fellow Quaker, Alma Brown. She suffered a stroke in 1986 and died a few months later. He now shares his beautiful home with its view of the Pacific and bay with Jamie, his 22-year-old college student grandson. Each day brings its own joys as he leads what he terms “a happy life of non-monogamy.”

    At the conclusion of the interview, Spelman summed up his life so far: “I’ve had two wives, two dogs, five children, fourteen grandchildren, eight great-grand children…and five lovers. Of course, some of these figures change every year.”

    Jim Kitchen, 73, holds a Ph.D. in political science and was a professor of public administration and urban studies. He was also a Fulbright lecturer and taught in Pakistan. He is currently copublisher and editor in chief of Crazyquilt, a mainstream literary quarterly.

  • Pratt Spelman died yesterday, May 28, 2000. He was 97 years old and surely
    the oldest Billy. Pratt was at last years July 4th gathering and loved it.
    He as not able to get around without an arm to rely on because of his poor
    eyesight. He just loved all these young men who helped him out. Pratt is a
    model for us all in several ways. He continued an active sex life until
    last fall when his health started to fail. His doctor had told him that he
    could die as easily in Thailand as at home so he has been doing exotic
    travel the past few years; Thailand was one of his destinations. Last year
    he stopped teaching. That closed an almost 80 career. In the early
    thirties he traveled to Paris, France to study with Nadia Boulanger, perhaps
    the most significant music teacher of the 20th century. Leonard Bernstein,
    Aaron Copland, George Gershwin and many others were her students. While in
    Paris Pratt was hired as the organist for the American Cathedral, a most
    prestigious position. Two years ago Pratt was honored by the American
    Organist Guild because more of his students had passed their very difficult
    tests than any other teachers. In fact, Pratt told me that he was proud
    that many of his students played better than he did.

    Pratt’s doctorate was in Art History and most of his career he was head of
    the department of music and art at the University of the Redlands. Pratt
    became a Quaker in the middle 1930’s and was instrumental in forming Pacific
    Yearly Meeting, the organization of unprogrammed Quaker for, at that time,
    the western united states, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.
    During W.W.II Pratt helped many young men become conscious objectors. When
    the University of the Redlands was “conscripted” to provide training for
    military officers, Pratt was a lone voice of objection. The consequence is
    that he was shunned for many years and lost his job as a church organist.
    That was a significant sum from his professor’s salary. Pratt was steadfast
    against gamboling because the money had not been earned. When the
    university wanted to have a raffle as a fund raiser Pratt told them he had a
    better idea. He suggested that they have all the sorority girls become
    prostitutes, and they would get a lot more money. He was met with horrified
    objections. His reply was, “If you are willing to do one thing that is
    immoral, why not do something immoral that is really profitable?” The
    university dropped the plans for a raffle.

    Pratt was predeceased by his oldest son who was a neurosurgeon. He is
    survived by his remaining four children and his partner of seven years, Bill
    Rob Roy Woodman
    Found on Billenet, post dated May 29th, 2000


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