Paul Kurtz - a Personal Reflection

October 22, 2012

Our movement has lost a titan. Paul Kurtz died at his home in Amherst, New York, on October 20, 2012. Among his legacies are a vast treasury of books and articles, an independent publishing house that has continued to thrive in an environment deeply corrosive of such institutions, and of course the Center for Inquiry, the world's foremost humanist and skeptical organization.

I knew Paul since 1982, when I attended one of the first FREE INQUIRY conferences on Paul's beloved State University of New York at Buffalo Amherst campus. In short order I was volunteering; in 1989 I joined the staff. In my various assignments in Paul's nonprofit empire I have been privileged to meet some of the most interesting people in the world and to watch vitally important developments unfold from the inside. With others, I learned much from Paul's bold vision and his instinctive grasp of how to make organizations grow. Perhaps most of all, I was influenced by his insistence on blending passion for the mission with a commitment to run even nonprofit organizations on sound business principles.

Humanism, atheism, and skepticism enjoy a level of mainstream acceptance today that Paul surely could not have imagined when he launched his career of activism in the 1960s. Perhaps that, even more than the specific institutions he built, will stand as his most enduring legacy.