Nov 21, 2002

Dr. Glenn L. Archer, the first executive director of Americans United who led the organization for nearly three decades, died on Friday, Nov. 15 at the age of 96.

Dr. Archer was tapped by the founders of Americans United to lead the organization in 1948 and served until his retirement in 1976. He gave up a promising career in Kansas politics to move to Washington to build the group from the ground up. Among his other duties, he hired the staff, raised the budget and found AU's first home in Washington. An energetic man known for his spellbinding oratorical skills, Dr. Archer was a popular speaker around the nation; in the early days of the organization he made frequent appearances on radio and the emerging medium of television. He was close friends with Eleanor Roosevelt and political figures like Sen. Sam Ervin.

Current Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn issued the following statement:

"Glenn Archer was a figure of towering energy and intellect. During his professional career, he interacted with presidents, U.S. senators and leaders of national religious denominations. But he never forgot that Americans United was created to protect the religious liberty of the average person and to be a voice for those who would otherwise have no influence in the nation's capital. These principles -- religious freedom for all and a fierce determination to stick up for the rights of the underdog -- guided his tenure.

"Thanks to Dr. Archer's vision and hard work, Americans United was established as a permanent presence in American life and has built a reputation as a strong defender of religious liberty through the separation of church and state.

"Throughout his life, Dr. Archer remained engaged in these issues and followed developments closely. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of church-state history. His commitment to the core principles of Americans United never wavered. He will be greatly missed."

Dr. Archer, who lived in Silver Spring, Md., is survived by his wife of 75 years, Ruth Agnes; two children, Glenn Archer Jr. and Marilyn Stutts; eight grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.