Remembering Peace Pilgrim's Glorious Transition

KnoxPPPlaque.jpg

Even though she had wandered the United States for more than 28 years and was in the middle of her seventh pilgrimage, Peace Pilgrim’s travels still took her to new places. Such was the case in Knox, IN, where she arrived on July 5, 1981. A friend she met many years earlier had moved to the small midwestern city and invited her to visit.

As usual, Peace was featured in the local paper, interviewed on the radio and had several talks lined up. One of her first was at a crowded church hall. As she spoke, Peace kept looking skyward. Then she surprised her audience by walking off the platform and slowly making her way around the silent room. She reached out to individuals one-by-one and touched each of them, saying “bless you.” She returned to the podium, looked upward again and remarked, “I never usually say goodbye, but this has been a very special night for me and I just want to bless all of you and say goodbye.” Afterwards, as always, she took time to chat with those who sought her out.

The next day, Peace rose with the sun and watched the dawn blossom into daylight. Later, she was interviewed by local radio broadcaster Ted Hayes. The following afternoon, July 7, Peace had another speaking engagement at a senior center in Elkhart, IN, and had accepted the offer of a ride from Ewell Ward. For the first 25,000 miles of her pilgrimage she refused transportation and strictly kept to walking. But once she stopped counting the miles and had many engagements to meet, she didn’t mind the lift. As his car pulled up, she said a warm good-bye to her friend, offering an extra hug.

Just outside the Knox border, the vehicle was in a head-on collision near the home of. Tony and Terry Bau. The couple ran to the road when they heard the explosive crash. Terry held Peace in her arms as she made her transition. Ewell, the driver, passed a few hours later. The young lady driving the other car was not seriously injured.

Thousands of her friends – old and new – were deeply shocked and saddened when they learned of Peace Pilgrim’s sudden passing. The irony was not lost on anyone that the amazing woman who spent nearly three decades moving on foot met her earthly end in an automobile. But Peace was most likely rejoicing on that day, July 7, 1981, when she made what she often called a “glorious transition to a freer life.”

Twenty-eight years later, in 2009, Friends of Peace Pilgrim board member Richard Polese joined Tony and Terry Bau to help erect a Peace Pilgrim Pole that still stands just across the road from the accident. Radio broadcaster Ted Hayes, who recorded her last interview the day before she died, joined the celebration as well.

The Baus keep a small box by the pole where passersby can pick up a copy of Peace’s Steps Toward Inner Peace. Recently, friend Jason Brown sent a note with links to photos of the Peace Pilgrim Pole in Knox. “I have been a big fan of Peace Pilgrim for many years. She changed my life tremendously,” said Jason, who also noted that photos from the crash are shown 52:30 into the wonderful documentary, The Spirit of Peace .

NOTE: This article appeared in the latest issue (Number 64) of the Friends of Peace Pilgrim newsletter.

In 2009, Tony and Terry Bau, Richard Polese and radio broadcaster Ted Hayes help dedicate a Peace Pilgrim Pole that still stands near the site of her transition.

In 2009, Tony and Terry Bau, Richard Polese and radio broadcaster Ted Hayes help dedicate a Peace Pilgrim Pole that still stands near the site of her transition.

Peace Pilgrim honored as Visionary Champion of Peace and Nonviolence

We might not know them. And we rarely get a chance to truly understand or appreciate their courage, conviction and compassion. But visionary women have been behind centuries of work toward nonviolent change, from women’s rights and racial justice to disarmament and gun control. Peace Pilgrim was among 12 of these remarkable people honored by the National Women’s History Alliance as Visionary Women: Champions of Peace and Nonviolence at a special program in Washington, D.C. on March 30.

Friends of Peace Pilgrim Board member Bruce Nichols was thrilled to accept the award from Martha Wheelock, an NWHA board member who actually met Peace Pilgrim in the 1970’s and happily held up one of the last navy blue tunics that Peace wore during her 28-year pilgrimage. Although no longer able to attend these kinds of events, Peace’s 104-year-old sister, Helene Young, expressed deep gratitude through Bruce for the posthumous recognition of her sister’s life and work towards a more peaceful world. in addition, Bruce shared a few words of Peace Pilgrim’s wisdom and also offered deep appreciation to all the extraordinary women recognized that day.

Other posthumous honorees were:
Elise Boulding, a Quaker sociologist and author who was a major contributor to the development of the field of Peace and Conflict Studies.
Sarah Brady, a leading gun control advocate who helped pass important legislation after her husband was permanently disabled in the failed assassination attempt on President Reagan.
Dorothy Cotton, the only woman in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s inner circle and one of the most influential women in the civil rights movement.
Mary Burnett Talbert, a founder of both the Niagara Movement in 1905 and its successor the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1910.  

Living honorees, who all attended the event, were:
Kathy Kelly, a dedicated peace worker in international conflict zones, a founding members of Voices in the Wilderness, and currently co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.  
Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, a grassroots humanitarian and development organization dedicated to serving women survivors of wars.
Graciela Sanchez, a neighborhood activist and cultural worker who co-founded the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center in San Antonio, TX.
Deborah Tucker helped write and pass the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and is currently President of the Board of Directors of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence.
Dr. E. Faye Williams, an active civil and human rights leader who is National Chair of the National Congress of Black Women.
Sister Alice Zachmann, founder and former director of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission USA.

 

 

Beautiful new audio of Peace Pilgrim

Peace Pilgrim in Buffalo New York 1972

Peace Pilgrim in Buffalo New York 1972

Here at Friends of Peace Pilgrim we recently received a link to an interview with Peace Pilgrim made in Seattle at radio station KRAB. It was sent to us by Charles Reinsch, the KRAB archivist, who said, “Peace Pilgrim visited KRAB on July 20, 1973. She was interviewed for about 60 minutes, and the interview was aired the next day, again on Aug 30, 1973, July 8, 1975, and on Aug 4, 1978”.

The interview was particularly interesting to me because I first met Peace Pilgrim in Seattle in 1973, during her visit to that city when she did this interview. At the time I was an attender of the University Friends Meeting (Quaker) and on one Sunday it was announced that there would be a speaker after the meeting. I remember after hearing a description of this "wandering pilgrim" who went around wearing a tunic and talking about peace, wondering just what kind of person she was. Immediately upon hearing her, however, it was clear to me that she was a very genuine person. I can honestly say that this meeting with Peace Pilgrim in Seattle in 1974 profoundly changed my life. But that is another story.

Anyway here is a link to Peace Pilgrim's interview at KRAB - enjoy!

Link directly to Peace Pilgrim interview:

Peace Pilgrim talk

Link to KRAB archive page that has some information about the interview, along with two other interesting links related to Peace Pilgrim:

KRAB Peace Pilgrim archive page

Peace Pilgrim in Her Own Words - Free to Those Who Ask

 Peace Pilgrim started her pilgrimage journey on January 1 of 1953 and continued on the road, homeless, without accepting money or asking for food or shelter, for over 28 years. After her passing there was a memorial gathering to remember and celebrate her life and witness. Five attenders of that gathering stayed afterwards to compile her words into a book.

When the question came up about how to distribute the book, these five people made a decision that they would offer Peace Pilgrim -- Her Life and Work in Her Own Words in the spirit of Peace Pilgrim, free to those who ask. One of the five compilers donated enough money for the first printing and together they made the decision that they would distribute the book freely, without charging  for it or ever soliciting donations, and that when they ran out of books if there were not enough funds for the next printing, they would cease publishing the book.

Well, that was about 35 years ago and, after offering over 2 1/2 million pieces of Peace Pilgrim literature: books, booklets VHS video tapes, DVDs, audiocassettes etc. there has always been enough money for the next printing.

John and Ann Rush with their three children: Heath, Pamela and Erica

John and Ann Rush with their three children: Heath, Pamela and Erica

The non-profit foundation that these five compilers of the Peace Pilgrim book formed is an all volunteer organization and to this day, we operate without a paid staff or ever soliciting donations. How do we manage to pull that off? The Friends of Peace Pilgrim Foundation and its operations and efforts is one of the three areas to be covered by this blog. The other two are: Peace Pilgrim, her life, pilgrimage and witness, and what people are doing who are inspired by Peace Pilgrim.

We will leave you with a photograph of two people who can in a sense be considered the founders of Friends of Peace Pilgrim, John and Ann Rush, a Quaker couple. For years after the book came out, Friends of Peace Pilgrim operated out of their home, first in Whittier and later in Hemet, California and finally in Somerset, California. Their extraordinary life is a subject in itself. More about them in future posts in this blog.