Victor C. Kitchen

Glenn F. Chesnut, Changed by Grace: V. C. Kitchen, the Oxford Group, and A.A.

Photo of a young looking Vic Kitchen. On the back is written in his own
handwriting: "Victor C. Kitchen (boy wonder) as Vice President of Philip
Koffe Co. Inc. (New York Advertising Agency). Later formed Doyle,
Kitchen and McCormick, Inc." His granddaughter believes that this photo
was taken some time in the 1920's when Victor was in his thirties.

Victor Constant Kitchen (18911975) was a New York City advertising executive. His firm -- Doyle, Kitchen & McCormick -- had its offices at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue.

Kitchen and Bill W. (the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous) were both members of the same Oxford Group businessman's group in New York City during the period around 1935-1936, and Nell Wing said that they became good friends. The two of them were close to the same age, so they could relate to one another easily. In 1934 -- which was the year that Ebby visited Bill in his apartment and told him about the Oxford Group , and the year that Kitchen's book I Was a Pagan was published -- Bill turned 39 years old and Kitchen was 43.

Dr. Bob in Akron, Ohio, the other co-founder of A.A., may have met Kitchen at least once and perhaps twice. In 1933, wealthy rubber baron Harvey Firestone, Sr. (president of the Firestone Rubber and Tire Company) brought sixty Oxford Group members to Akron, paying all their expenses, so that they could get a group started in that city. Dr. Bob's wife Anne was the one who persuaded the doctor to start attending these new Oxford Group meetings early in 1933, shortly after they were begun. We do not know if Kitchen was one of the sixty who came to Akron in 1933, but he was vitally involved with their mission, and he was definitely on the Oxford Group team which traveled through Ohio and other parts of the west in 1934, along with Purdy, Haines, Twitchell, Mrs. F. A. Seiberling, Parks Shipley, and Rowland Hazard (the man who had gone for psychoanalysis with Carl Jung, learned from him about the spiritual solution to the problem of alcoholism, and later helped get Ebby Thacher sober).

Glenn Chesnut, Changed by Grace: V. C. Kitchen, the Oxford Group, and A.A.

Vic married Elsie Rodman in 1915 when he was 24. This second
photo is on the occasion of their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary in
June 1940. From left to right, Vic, Elsie, and their three daughters:
Beverly (at that time just a month shy of 22), Myra and Hope.

V. C. Kitchen's obituary in the New York Times, January 30, 1975, p. 37:

"KITCHEN -- Victor Constant, son of the late Dr. and Mrs. J. M. W. Kitchen of East Orange, N.J., born New York City, April 9, 1891, died at home in Cabool, Missouri, Jan. 29, 1975. Husband of Elsie Rodman Kitchen, father of Beverly K. Almond of Bloomfield, N.J., Myra K. Prindle, Redding, Conn., Hope K. Ayer, Cabool. Nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Attended Carteret Academy, East Orange High School, Stevens Institute of Technology, Columbia School of Journalism. Advertising executive, Doyle, Kitchen & McCormick, N.Y.C. Since 1934, full time with Oxford Group and Moral Re-Armament . Author of the book, 'I Was A Pagan.' Gathering of gratitude at his home, Route 2, Cabool, Mo., 3 P.M., Saturday, Feb. 1. Eventual interment, Gilmantown, N.H. In lieu of flowers, family suggests remembrance to Up With People, 3103 No. Campbell Ave., Tucson, Ariz. 85719."

Orange, East Orange, West Orange, and South Orange formed a cluster of residential suburban communities just north of Newark, New Jersey. It was also within commuting distance of New York City, which lay fourteen miles to the east. For the wealthier families who lived there, Carteret Academy was the private school for boys. After finishing high school in East Orange, Kitchen became a student at Stevens Institute of Technology, which was a major university located not very far away, in Hoboken, New Jersey, right on the Hudson River, immediately across from Manhattan and New York City. From there, Kitchen went on to study at the Columbia University School of Journalism. Since Columbia was of course one of the great ivy league institutions, this was a very prestigious place to study. Its journalism facility was located in New York City on the southeast corner of W. 116th Street and Broadway at the main entrance to the university's Morningside Heights campus. The School of Journalism was built with money donated by newspaper magnate Joseph Pulitzer, and held its first classes in the Fall of 1912. It is the institution which awards the prestigious Pulitzer Prize, the highest award an American journalist can be given. After he had finished there, Kitchen at some point decided to go into the advertising business and rose to become one of the partners in a New York City advertising firm.

Victor Kitchen, Oxford Group and Moral Re-Armament, author of I Was a Pagan

Vic Kitchen (on the right) and Cece Broadhurst appeared as cowboys
in a Moral Re-Armament skit called "Change on the Range."

In 1934, the same year he published I Was a Pagan, Kitchen left the advertising business and spent the rest of his life working full time for the Oxford Group and Moral Re-Armament (as the Oxford Group was renamed in 1938). Dick B. (Kihei, Maui, Hawaii), personal correspondence 23 May 2006, gave additional information about Kitchen's active involvement in the Oxford Group in and after 1934: "The August, 1935 Evangel reports that Shoemaker had taken abroad with him Kitchen, Professor Brown, and Parks Shipley." "After I had met Shoemaker's younger daughter in Florida, I saw frequent mention in Shoemaker's personal journal entries of Bill Wilson, Rowland Hazard, Shep Cornell, Victor Kitchen, Charles Clapp, Professor Brown -- Appendix 5." "When I met with Jim Newton in Florida, we had the businessmen's team picture in front of us; and Jim identified Victor Kitchen as one of the members."

Kitchen ended his life in the little town of Cabool (population 2,168) in southern Missouri in a very sparsely populated and isolated part of the beautiful and scenic Ozark Mountains, just north of the Mark Twain National Forest.

Victor Kitchen, Oxford Group and Moral Re-Armament, author of I Was a Pagan

In a Moral Re-Armament play, Marion Clayton Anderson
plays Miss Trust, whispering doubts and seeds of dissension
into the ears of labor leaders played by Vic Kitchen (on the
left) and Norman Schwab.

Up With People was a group which worked with students of university age from all over the world to bring about greater international understanding, bringing these young people together on world tours through North America, Europe, and Asia, where they put on musical performances and were given the opportunity to build friendships with young men and women from all these other countries. Activities which could help contribute to world peace had been an important part of the Oxford Group's program, an interest which was even more emphasized after it changed its name to Moral Re-Armament (MRA) in 1938. Kitchen was deeply concerned with this as well as matters of individual moral and spiritual development.

(Even more recently, the Oxford Group/MRA changed its name to "Initiatives of Change.")