George B. Quatman (top) at the Basilica of St. John in Ephesus; (middle) with Pope Paul VI in Rome in 1963; and (bottom) with Dr. Franz Miltner, Excavation Director of the Austrian Archaeological Institute in the 1960’s.
George B. Quatman (1890-1964). George B. (Weitzel) Quatman was born to immigrant parents from Alsace-Lorraine. Before his mother (Sophia Saling-Weitzel) died, she asked the parish priest (Fr. Francis M. Quatman) to watch after her 18 month old son. The priest gave his oath and raised George like his own son, giving him the best education and upbringing. George adopted the name “Quatman” to honor the priest who had raised him. With this strong Christian home, George was a devout Catholic his entire life, and became a successful businessman in the telephone industry. He raised five sons, whose children and grandchildren continue to carry out Mr. Quatman’s legacy and visions through the efforts of The American Society of Ephesus, Inc. (also known as the George B. Quatman Foundation).
In 1954, when a 5-year old grandson was paralyzed with polio, Mr. Quatman made a pilgrimage to several Marian shrines in Europe to pray for a healing. Upon his return, the grandson was healed. In thanksgiving, George B. Quatman made another trip to Ephesus, Turkey in 1955 to see the location he had heard of where the Blessed Virgin Mary had lived her final days on this earth. There, he found the ruins of the Basilica of St. John which contained the tomb of the beloved disciple, as well as the ruins of the Church of Mary – site of the 431 A.D. Council of Ephesus. It was when he found the partially restored ruins of the House of Mary, believed to have been built by St. John for Jesus’ mother after her departure from Jerusalem, that Mr. Quatman felt a calling to do something to preserve and restore these sacred sites.
After research and consultation with spiritual and legal advisors, George B. Quatman founded The American Society of Ephesus (ASE) in October 1955. He signed a treaty (protocol) with the Turkish government in 1958 (see photo above) which permitted the foundation to restore Christian sites in this Muslim country, and ASE began work on restoring St. John’s Basilica, the Church of Mary and the House of Mary. That work has continued for 60 years, through the efforts of Mr. Quatman’s sons, and now future generations of the Quatman family and other trustees of the private foundation.
In the 1970’s, the people of Selcuk, Turkey named the public square in front of St. John’s Basilica “George B. Quatman Square,” to honor the efforts of this great man. In 2015, ASE gave a gift to the town of Selcuk to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of The American Society of Ephesus. The new clock tower in the city center depicts the history of Ephesus and Selcuk, from its ancient pagan roots, to the Christian era and today’s Muslim culture. In addition to images of Roman ruins, visits by several popes, and local people of Selcuk, you will find a picture of Mr. Quatman.
We are pleased to continue to fulfill the visions of George B. Quatman, both in the United States and in Turkey, as well as other parts of the world.
Mr. Quatman (center) is shown shaking hands here in 1958 with Kemal Hadimli, Governor of the Province of Smyrna (Izmir), Turkey. Also shown (second from right) is Mr. Huseyin Guven, Mayor of the town of Selcuk, Turkey. The photograph at the top of the page shows George B. Quatman signing a protocol with the Turkish officials earlier this same day, to permit the restoration of Christian sites in Turkey, an unprecedented agreement at its time.