Friday, August 12, 2011

Oswald's Quaker connection in New Orleans and Mexico City

In a previous entry to this blog, an article written by William Weston, entitled "Oswald: Peace Activist in Pennsylvania?"  was posted.

Oswald's Quaker connections, particularly through Marina's "friend" in both senses of the word--Ruth Paine--has been of great interest over the years to assassination researcher Bill Kelly, who has previously written about Oswald's strange ties to Quakers in Mexico City:
Professor Jerry Rose ... published the first part of the story in the Fourth Decade [Volume 5 #4, May, 1998]. Rose wrote about the FBI's investigation of The Casa De Los Amigos, a Quaker camp or hostel in Mexico City whose residents apparently had knowledge of Lee Harvey Oswald's activities. Prof. Rose wrote:
"Given the Bureau's propensity to try to associate Oswald with Friends [Quaker] groups like the New Orleans Council for Peaceful Alternatives, this `information' aroused the intense interest of headquarters, which conveyed this information along with directives to interview [Alcaraz] and give the appropriate attention to the matter in view of the fact that, `Mrs. Ruth Paine of Irving Texas, who has befriended Oswald and wife, has been prominently associated with the activities of the Friend's organization.'"
The Mexico City Quaker connection was first developed by the San Francisco Bureau of the FBI, whose undercover informant Judith Gordon, notified them on January 15, 1964 that Barrie Milliman, a female student at the University of Califorinia (Berkeley), learned of some of Oswald's movements and contacts while visiting her fiance Homobono Amo Alcaraz in Mexico City.
Before they got to Alcaraz however, the FBI interviewed the Acting Director of the Casa del Los Amigos, Von Peacock, who speculated that the "unknown American" may have been Robert Kaffke of San Francisco, who had been one of 58 students who made an illegal trip to Cuba in the summer of 1963. While it was determined that Kaffke was not registered at the Casa De Los Amigos until Oct. 25, 1963, weeks after Oswald had left, he was familiar to the FBI since he was also an undercover informant of the San Francisco FBI office. He was not now suspected as being the "unknown American" seen with Oswald in Mexico City.
Kaffke told the FBI that when he stayed at the Casa de Los Amigos in late October 1963 the residents were still talking about Oswald's visit. When Oswald was there he had "a lot of money" and "persons at Casa de Los Amigos are really scared when the name of Oswald is mentioned." [B.K. -- Note that they were scared in October, 1963 -- Before the assassination].
Remarking that this story has been discussed by others, Kelly continues his own article by elucidating for us what those others have learned:
Live By The Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death ofJFK In Live By The Sword, Gus Russo (Bancroft Press, Baltimore, MD., 1998) gives an historically deceiving perspective of Kennedy's murder that still tries to sell the original cover-story for the operation -- that Fidel Castro was behind the assassination. There is however, an interesting footnote under the allegation that there are no photos of Lee Harvey Oswald in Mexico City because, as Russo would like us to believe, Oswald was possibly accompanied by Cuban agents. The note (from Chapter 19 - 8, p. 579) reads:
"In 1994, . . . [Anthony and Robbyn] Summers also interviewed Homer Bono, who told them that he met Oswald at Sanborn's Restaurant outside Mexico City in 1963. Oswald left in the company of a Quaker from Philadelphia named Steve Kennan [sic?]. Oswald was a passenger on Kennan's motorbike as the two drove off to the Cuban Embassy to try to secure a visa for Oswald. Kennan has never been found or interviewed."
The idea that Oswald could have been ferried about Mexico City on a motorbike by "a Quaker from Philadelphia" is certainly an interesting possibility, especially since the Warren Report makes note of the fact (p. 735):
"Although the Soviet and Cuban Embassies are within two blocks of each other, they are some distance from Oswald's hotel. He must, therefore, have traversed a substantial portion of the city on more than one occasion." So, "a Quaker from Philadelphia" with a motorbike would have done very nicely, and he could be a valuable witness to Oswald's activities there.
Anthony Summers, in Not In Your Lifetime (Marlowe & Co., N.Y., 1998 p.441), wrote in a footnote:
"In 1994, in Mexico City, the author interviewed Homobono Alcaraz Aragon, a lawyer. His name featured in reports indicating that he claimed he had met Oswald in Mexico City before the assassination. In the 1994 interview, Alcaraz said he had encountered Oswald at Sanborn's restaurant, in the company of two or three other American students -- all Quakers, like Alcaraz himself. The talk centered on efforts to get to Cuba, and Alcaraz said `Oswald' eventually left with one of the Americans -- whom Alcaraz recalls as being named either Steve Kennan (or Keenan) from Philadelphia. As Alcaraz recalled it, Keenan drove Oswald on his motorcycle to go to the Cuban consulate. Alcaraz seemed sincere, and abhorred publicity. He named a friend, Hector Gastelo (now a farmer in Sanoro State) as probably having been present during the encounter with Oswald. (Interview with Alcaraz, 1993; CE 2121; and multiple FBI reports -- available at the Assassinations Archive and Research Center, Washington D.C.; Miraba: HSCA III.177)."
In a footnote to the footnote, Summers also makes note that, "As this book went to press, the author became aware of information that the CIA ran an agent in Mexico, code named LICOZY-3, who was a student from Philadelphia (Philip Agee, Inside the Company, Stonehill, 1975, p. 530).
The plot thickens as Agee reported (Inside the Company):
"The [Mexico City] station double-agent cases against the Soviets, LICOZY-1, LICOZY-3 and LICOZY-5, are all being wound up for lack of productivity or problems of control. One of these agents, LICOZY-3, is an American living in Philadelphia who was recruited by the Soviets while a student in Mexico City, but who reported the recruitment and worked for the Mexico City station. He worked for the FBI after returning to the US -- the Soviet case officer was a UN offical at one time -- but recently Soviet interest in him has fallen off and the FBI turned the case back over to the Agency for termination."
Sanborn's Restaurant, where Alcaraz and Kennan reportedly met Oswald, is also mentioned by Richard Case Nagell, who according to Dick Russell (in The Man Who Knew Too Much, Carroll & Graf, 1992, p. 354), wrote a letter to his friend Arthur Greenstein refering to Sandborn's restaurant as a meeting place. While Sandborn's Restaurant is reported in one reference (Russo) to be "just outside" Mexico City, Mary Ferrell's index notes that, (Steve) "Kennan was seen several times in Sanborn's Restaurant next to the American Embassy bldg. in Mexico City."
[B.K. Note: If Sanborns Restaurant is next to the American Embassy, Larry Happanen questions whether Oswald visited the American Embassy as well as the Cuban and Russian Embassies while he was there.]
Kelly then sums things up as follows:
The whole "Quaker" connection to the assassination reaches right to the heart of the matter of who was behind Oswald's movements and how he was being directed in his clandestine operations -- his advocacy of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans, his mission to the Cuban and Russian Embassies in Mexico City, his intention to move to Philadelphia, his relocation back to Dallas and his job at the Texas School Book Depository.
Central to everything is Ruth Avery Hyde Paine....Ruth Avery Hyde Paine is a pacifist who harbors Quaker beliefs, studied the Russian language, wrote letters to pen-pals in the Soviet Union, helped arrange east-west exchange students and became Marina Oswald's guardian. She first took Marina into her home as a guest while Oswald went to New Orleans to obtained work and an apartment. Ruth H. Paine then drove Marina from Texas to the Magazine Street apartment in New Orleans and then notified a local Quaker, Mrs. Ruth Kloepfer, of the Oswald's presence in New Orleans. She requested Kloepfer contact and assist the Oswalds, and Mrs. Kloepfer and her two college-age daughters, who were also learning the Russian language, then visited Lee and Marina at the apartment.
Unfortunately, Bill Kelly is one of those researchers who has never bothered to read what Judyth Vary Baker has written, always sloughing it off as something merely about a love affair between an alleged assassin and a school girl. Judyth tell us in her book, Me and Lee, that Ruth Paine:
"... wrote to Mrs. Ruth Kloepfer, a fellow Quaker who lived in New Orleans, ostensibly asking her to check on Marina and June. Mrs. Kloepfer just happened to be married to a Tulane professor, Dr. Henry Warner Kloepfer, and they would just happen to move from Pine Street to Louisiana Avenue Parkway -- close to David Ferrie -- not long afterwards. The first visit to 4905 Magazine involved only Mrs. Kloepfer and her daughters. Marina was unaware that Dr. Kloepfer was a geneticist at Tulane Medical School, who was involved in the Project. Dr. Kloepfer's name, address and phone numbers were later found in Lee's address book." (p. 339)
Dr. Kloepfer's father, John Alexander Kloepfer, was a farmer in Ohio, whose own father was a German immigrant to the United States. The 1961 obituary of John A. Kloepfer (who died in New Orleans many years after his wife's death in Ohio) indicated that he and his wife, the former Mary Ivett, were Methodists. Another newspaper article that appeared in Ruth Kloepfer's Ohio hometown in 1952 stated that her father was Rev. D.C. McCoy, pastor of the Calcutta United Presbyterian Church, and her brother was  Rev. Wayne L. McCoy, assistant pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Washington, Pa., while still a student at the Presbyterian seminary in Pittsburgh. (East Liverpool (Ohio) Review, June 6, 1952).

So when and how did this family become Quakers? We find no clues from any information in Dr. Kloepfer's biography nor in his obituary:
Henry Warner Kloepfer biography and obituary:
(1913-1982) KLOEPFER, HENRY WARNER, b Roseville, Ohio, Feb 25, 1913; m 1936; c 4. HUMAN GENETICS. Educ: Ohio Univ, BS, 34, MA, 1938; Muskingum Col, BA, 35; Ohio State Univ, PhD (human genetics), 1942. Prof Exp: Instr, Ohio Pub Sch, 1935-36; asst zool, Ohio State Univ. in Columbus, OH 1939-42; prof biol & head dept, Dakota Wesleyan Univ,1942-46, prof biol & chmn div, dean of men & acad dean, 1946-47; prof biol & acad dean, Col of Ozarks, 1947-52; assoc prof anat, 1952-77, EMER ASSOC PROF ANAT, SCH MED, TULANE UNIV, 1977-Concurrent Pos: Danforth vis lectr, Asn Am Cols, 1962-66. Mem: Am Soc Human Genetics (treas, 1958-60); Genetics Soc Am; World Fedn Neurol (secy, 1961-65); Int Dermatoglyphics Asn (pres, 1974- ). Res: Genetics of rare genes; detection of genetic carrier. Mailing Add: 3033 La Ave Pkwy New Orleans LA 70125

Obituary from "New Orleans Genesis" Volume 21, Number 83 (July 1982) page 296:
In Memoriam -- The Society extends its sympathy to the family of Dr. H. Warner Kloepfer, who passed away Saturday 27 March 1982. Dr. Warner was a charter member of the Society. He was director of the Genetic Counseling Center and associate Professor of Human Genetics at Tulane University Medical School. His work researching the identification and description of specific major genes was also helped by his researching family lineage. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. H. Warner Kloepfer, the former Ruth Elizabeth McCoy, three daughters, Jean Elizabeth Watts, Karol Grace Kloepfer, and Dr. Ruth Ann Peters, and one son, Rev. John Warner Kloepfer. We deeply regret the loss of this dedicated member.

Scientist to Speak on Forum Series
Tuesday evening, March 15 (1961), at 8 p.m., in the University Fieldhouse, Dr. H. Warner Kloepfer will lecture on the Forum of Eau Claire State University on the topic, "Radiation and Human Genetics." Dr. Kloepfer's field of research ranges throughout most phases of human genetics, and he will discuss both the adverse and optimistic trends in the field of genetics today. He will explore the role of fallout and the genetic damage which is occurring because of radiation effects and, on the other hand, the breakthroughs in genetic research which he feels will more than offset the damaging effects of increased radiation.                          Dr. Kloepfer will be on the campus of the university March 14 and 15 as a Danforth visiting lecturer. Now in its ninth year, the Danforth visiting lecturers project is sponsored jointly by the Danforth Foundation and the Association of American Colleges. Dr. Kloepfer is one of 17 scholars from this country and abroad selected by the Foundation and the Association's arts program for campus visits during the 1965-66 academic years. During his two-day visit he will lecture to botany, zoology, and genetics classes and visit with individual students and faculty.

Associate professor of anatomy at the Tulane University School of Medicine since 1952, Dr. Kloepfer taught previously at Ohio State University, Dakota Wesleyan University, the College of Emporia, and the College of the Ozarks. A native of Ohio, he is the author of many articles in professional journals in the field of genetics. Dr. Kleopfer has served on the commission of neurogenetics of the World Federation of Neurology, a post to which he was elected at the founding meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1961.
Previously, lectures he gave at various colleges across the country dealt more with the subject of genetics, or "eugenics," as the field was formerly known. The following item appeared in a nearby newspaper in Jennings, La. following the publication of an article in the Eugenics Quarterly:

Jennings Daily News – July 13, 1960
Genetic Control Of Diseases Possible
NEW ORLEANS, La.—Medical scientists may be on the verge of controlling cancer, muscular dystrophy, heart disease and mental illness. But first, they must learn to spell with a new alphabet. Keys to this alphabet are locked in the genes—"the roots of life" —through which parents transfer to their children the color of eyes and hair, shortness and tallness, slimness and heaviness.       Unfortunately, genes also transfer diseases and "susceptibility" to diseases from generation to generation. Reporting in Eugenics Quarterly, Dr. H. Warner Kloepfer pointed out that genetic scientists can identify these death-dealing or crippling genes, but in most cases are helpless to correct the situation. But now, a new hope has appeared on the medical horizon, the Tulane geneticist said. Aided by powerful electron  microscopes, biochemists can now determine the chemical structure of genes, he emphasized.
"This discovery is the first giant step in artificially-producing human genes to serve as weapons in the fight against human suffering and death," he stressed.
   "It opens the door for mass-production of genes, just as the discovery of vitamins and hormones paved the way for large-scale production of these items and the subsequent increase of life expectancy."
   The Tulane scientist predicted that, in time, artificial, mass-produced genes would be available for use in preventing diseases before they begin. However, a major obstacle in producing genes today is an incomplete knowledge of spelling with "the genetic alphabet," he said.
   Dr. Kloepfer pointed out that there are four "letters" in the genetic alphabet, corresponding to four known amino acids which are components of all genes. He explained further that each gene in turn looks like a flexible, spiralling ladder with 10,000 rungs—each rung composed of the amino acids.
   "Just as arranging letters in the English language form all the words in the dictionary, the 'spelling' or arrangement of each gene is dependent on the arrangement of the four 'letters' in the genetic alphabet," he said.
   "Learning to spell words with four letters, or to build ladders with four kinds of rungs may seem easy, but it must be remembered what each word has 10,000 letters, or each ladder, 10,000 rungs.
   "The number of possible combination of the molecular structure combinations are almost infinite.
Intriguingly, Dr. Kloepfer appeared at Tulane during the polio scare of the mid-fifties, about a year before Dr. Alton Ochsner's grandson died from a polio vaccine produced at the Cutter Laboratory in California. He indicated to one journalist that he had come to Tulane to study whether there was any genetic connection to polio.

After introducing the Kloepfer name, however, Bill Kelly quickly moved on in his article to other subjects involving Quakers, i.e. a man named Steve Kennan or Keenan, who was supposedly a Quaker residing in Mexico City at the time Lee Oswald visited the embassy there. According to Kelly:

Ruth H. Paine then drove Marina from Texas to the Magazine Street apartment in New Orleans and then notified a local Quaker, Mrs. Ruth Kloepfer, of the Oswald's [sic] presence in New Orleans. She requested Kloepfer contact and assist the Oswalds, and Mrs. Kloepfer and her two college age daughters, who were also learning the Russian language, then visited Lee and Marina at the apartment. According to the Warren Report (p. 726):
"Ruth Kloepfer was a clerk of the Quaker Meeting in New Orleans whom Ruth Paine had written in the hope that she might know some Russian-speaking people who could visit Marina. Mrs. Kloepfer herself visited the Oswalds but made no attempt to direct any Russian-speaking people to them." [Other than her daughters, who were never interviewed].
Oswald then embarked upon his trip to Clinton, LA., and pro and anti-Castro Cuban operations in New Orleans, which continued until September 22, 1963, when Ruth H. Paine arrived in New Orleans from Philadelphia. Arriving after a long summer tripthat took her to visit relatives in Massachusetts andPhiladelphia Ruth Hyde Paine had spent some time with her husband's mother, Ruth Forbes Paine Young and her husband Arthur Young, the inventor of the Bell Helicopter. Both Ruth F. P. [Forbes Paine] Young (Michael Paine's mother) and Arthur Young were pacifists, professed Quaker beliefs and were associated with the Philadelphia Friends community.
Oswald had told a few acquaintances, including Ruth H. Paine, that he intended to relocate to Philadelphia, and in his notebook are five Philadelphia addresses and the notations:

  • Philidelphia (sic)
  • Russ-Amer. citizenship club 2730 Snyder Av.
  • Russ. Lan. school 1212 Spruce
  • Russian Daliy (sic) Paper Jefferson Bldg.
  • Russian Lan. Trn. 216 S. 20 / Russ. _ _ _ _ _ -- Ho_ _ Organ. 1733 Spring Grdn. [WC Exhibit 18].

From Lee's notebook
Kelly continues:
Philadelphia is the headquarters of the world Quaker community, which maintains close ties to nearby Main Line colleges Swathmore [sic] College and Haverford. Michael Paine attended Swathmore [sic] after leaving Harvard, and journalist Priscilla Johnson McMillan matriculated at Haverford. Both Priscilla Johnson and Ruth Forbes Paine were active in support of the World Federalists, the organization founded by Cord Meyer, who later became head of the CIA's International Organizaitons [sic] and Domestic Contacts Divisions.
Also in downtown Philadelphia is the headquarters of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), which operates Casa de los Amigos, the "camp" or youth hostel for America students studying the Spanish language in Mexico City, where the "unknown American," Philadelphia Quaker student "Steve Kennen -- or Keenan" is alledged to have stayed.
Instead of going to Philadelphia however, Oswald went to Mexico City, while Mrs. Ruth H. Paine took Marina, the kids and all of the Oswald's belongings -- including his rifle -- to Texas.
It is possible that "Steve Kennan -- Keenan" and his Quaker friends knew Oswald in Mexico City and were associated with Casa de los Amigos, which is still operational today.
After searching for a Quaker in Philadelphia named either Steve Kennan or Keenan, Bill Kelly states that he came up empty, before speculating that the person could have been " 'Edward L. Keenan,' the graduate exchange student in Leningrad and Moscow," who happened to be a "professor of linguistics at the University of the City of Los Angeles (UCLA), whose Curricululm [sic] Vitae includes a BA degree in Philosophy and Religion from Swathmore [sic] College in Philadelpia in 1959 and the Sorbonne (1962), as well as work as an "Escort Interprter" (French-English) for the U.S. Department of State in 1962-64 (summers)."

Kelly asks, "Is this the guy? If so, it is even more remarkable that he would meet Oswald at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on the day he defects in 1959 and then hooks up with him again in Mexico City in the fall of 1963, a few months before he is accused of being the assassin of the President of the United States."


Karol Kloepfer said...

Who wants to know how Dr. H. Warner Kloepfer became a Quaker? I know the answer to this question.

Linda Minor said...

Karol Kloepfer: Feel free to post that here or send me an email at Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy your work, very replete. As Quixote said, the historians include just enough information of their own choosing to make a reasonable account.