A Community Mourns

Peg Morton’s life sowed seeds of peace and justice

Peg Morton at a Eugene Celebration parade
Peg Morton at a Eugene Celebration parade

This community lost a truly stellar human being Dec. 19. Peg Morton, one of the best that the human race had to offer, sailed off into the great mystery surrounded by loved  ones, on a courageous journey that started only 13 days before with an intentional fast to end her life.

Her astounding life affected countless individuals in this community. Peg was an unstoppable force for good in this world. In her work to create a more just, peaceful and sane world, Peg lived with the fiercest integrity and with a passion that boggled one’s mind. She treated everyone as her equal, regardless of age, cultural difference or social standing.

You could see her at the noon peace vigil at the Eugene Public Library, singing with the Raging Grannies, standing with the Women in Black at their peace vigils and organizing Taxes for Peace Not War actions at the Eugene Post Office every April 15. The list of her community activism was endless. Wherever there was a cause for peace and social justice, Peg was there.

Her passion was matched by a neverending well of energy, which slowed a bit in later years, but even after declaring that she was “retiring” from activist work, she never really stopped. Peg was a longtime Quaker and stood solemnly and steadfastly by nonviolent principles. She was relentless in speaking truth to power and accepted the consequences of her actions, including numerous arrests and time spent in a federal prison for an arrest at a protest of the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, when she was well into her 70s. She unwaveringly stood up for what she felt was right and just, the end goal being to create a more peaceful sustainable planet that held space for everyone. We should all be so driven.

Peg walked her talk like no one I have ever known. She lived simply and without extravagance. She gave freely of her time, her ideas and her energy. She was quick to burst into song, and her radiant smile beamed right through you.

As she moved through life, Peg sowed seeds of inspiration. I feel confident those seeds will keep sprouting and blooming even after her passing from this earth. There are so many of us holding a renewed or continued commitment to our activism and making the world a better place, all because of this woman whose fierceness, dedication, compassion, love, kindness, passion and relentlessness touched our lives in some way.

How do we walk through this loss? Though Peg had talked for years of ending her life on her own terms, none of us were ready for this final ride with her. It felt surreal, heart-wrenching and heart opening all at the same time. It was precious in ways that are difficult to put into words, but that are perhaps known to those who have walked this path towards death with a beloved one.

It’s now our task to hold each other up as we mourn the loss of our beloved Peg and to carry on the work that she so diligently put forth into the world. Our greatest tribute to her can be to stand strong for what we believe it, to do something every single day to make the world a more just and peaceful place, to look people right in the eye and truly listen to what they have to say, to respect everyone, and last but not least, to laugh and sing more. As we hold each other up in the light of her love, let our focus be on continuing her legacy.

May we be filled with Peg’s light and love. May we be filled with Peg’s fierce integrity and passion. May we go inward and be led by spirit to do the right thing. May we speak with clarity and honesty. May we be burst into song at every opportunity. May we laugh well. May we know that she is still with us, just in a different form. May it always be so.

There will be a community memorial/celebration of life for her in January. The date will be announced through a variety of community networks. — Karen B. Olch