Online Collection

Letter to Reverend William A. Holmes from Reverend Richard Deats

Object Number: 2007.016.0386
Category: Documents
Type of Object: Letter
Dimensions: 6 7/8 x 6 in. (17.5 x 15.2 cm)
Medium: Paper
Letter sent to Reverend William A. Holmes of Northaven Methodist Church in Dallas from Reverend Richard Deats of Reading, Massachusetts.

Letter is typewritten on personal letterhead stationary and reads as follows:

"Rev. Richard Deats
182 Main Street
Reading, Massachusetts 01867

Nov. 27

Dear Bill,

Just a note to say that I heard your statement over NBC news last night. It was excellent--perceptive, prophetic and courageous. Others here in Boston heard it and had a similar reaction.

I pray that the Church will rise to its prophetic task in Dallas at this tragic moment in our history. The grief I have felt has been almost overwhelming.

If there are copies of your message available, I'd be most appreciative if you would send me one. I'll enclose an envelope for that purpose. Should you have any of the hate material in circulation prior to Kennedy's or Stevenson's visit, I'd certainly like to get any extra copies you might have. I'd gladly pay for such. As you may know I'm finishing up my PhD in social ethics & the political extremists remain one of my real interests. (I started a Dallas file during the time I was at Perkins).

Again, blessings to you for your statement. It is the kind of thing typical of the kind of responsible person I know you to be.

Richard (signed)"

Envelope is type-addressed to:
"The Rev. Bill Holmes
c/o Perkins School of Theology
Dallas 5,
Please forward"

From (on back):
"Rev. Richard Deats
182 Main Street
Reading, Massachusetts 01867"

Envelope is postmarked: "READING, MASS. / NOV 28 / 730 1963" and stamped with a 5 cent U.S. Christmas postage stamp.
Curator's Notes

When I first interviewed Rev. Holmes in March 2007, he was surprised to hear that there was still historical interest in his controversial sermon from the weekend of the Kennedy assassination. He and his wife soon decided to donate to the Museum the collection of more than 450 letters and cards that they received from around the world after excerpts of the sermon were broadcast on CBS.

Although several letters were critical of Holmes, the vast majority supported his beliefs as expressed in the sermon. Holmes was most proud of the letter he received from Christian philosopher Paul Tillich (1886-1965), while his children were thrilled with the letter from actor Hugh Brannum (1910-87), who played "Mr. Green Jeans" on the children's program "Captain Kangaroo."

The author of this particular letter, Rev. Richard Deats, later played a key role in one of the most prominent Vietnam War demonstrations in Dallas. As the Dallas representative of "Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam", Deats organized a sixteen-mile march on April 27, 1969, in opposition of the U.S. Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) program. The march led demonstrators through Dealey Plaza to a rally in nearby Ferris Plaza across from The Dallas Morning News building. - Stephen Fagin, Associate Curator

All requests for permission to reproduce, publish or broadcast materials in this collection must be submitted to the Museum's registrar, using the Rights & Reproductions Request Form. Inquiries may be sent to