Joseph Raymond Levee, a dedicated supporter of the Council for Secular Humanism and its supporting organization, the Center for Inquiry, died at the age of eighty-seven on February 1, 2014. Levee first became involved with the Council in 1991, when he gave a sizable donation to the initiative to expand the office space of the headquarters in Amherst, New York. Later that year, Levee founded a local secular group in Cincinnati, Ohio, called the FREE INQUIRY Group (FIG). He served as president and in other capacities for FIG for many years. FIG would go on to become one of CFI’s most active and innovative affiliated groups. It earned national attention in the media when it erected a physical representation of Jefferson’s “Wall of Separation” in downtown Cincinnati to protest the proliferation of religious symbols during the winter holiday season. When Answers in Genesis’s Ken Ham wanted to build his thirty-million-dollar Creation Museum opposite the entrance to Kentucky’s state park that houses the state’s richest fossil deposit, Levee and FIG launched a community-wide campaign that successfully prompted Ham to change locations for his museum.
In 1996, FIG founded the first summer camp specifically tailored to children of nontheistic parents, Camp Quest, on which CFI’s own Camp Inquiry is based. Levee and his wife ran the camp store for Camp Quest’s inaugural season.
Joe Levee served for many years as a board member of CODESH (which later became the Council for Secular Humanism) and later a part of the Center for Inquiry. He served as treasurer for the Center for Inquiry corporations until he stepped down in 2006. Levee is survived by his wife, Barbara.
—Julia Lavarnway, FREE INQUIRY Assistant Editor