Remembering a Peacemaker…
On Monday evening, August 24th, 2009 the world lost one of its great lights. Bill Petry, an intergral member of Michigan Peace Team, was struck & killed while pursuing one of his great passions: riding his bicycle on a beautiful Eaton County country road. Bill was pronounced dead Tuesday morning, but since Bill had signed up to be an organ donor, his body was kept on life support to maintain the viability of his organs while arrangements could be made for a number of people to receive these life-saving gifts. How very “Bill-like” – – using his last breaths to give life and hope to others.
Bill touched so many lives at so many different levels. He was absolutely crazy-in-love with his wife Julia, even after all these many years since they’d first declared their vows to each other. He was such a proud father to his son Hisham, and was enjoying networking with friends here in Lansing to find a new home for Hisham & Lee Anne (his daughter-in-law) in Chicago. After all, networking was one of the things Bill did best! He was also making plans for local people to “roadtrip” to the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation conference in Chicago next month (and of course, he volunteered to be one of the drivers). And, as always, he was helping Michigan Peace Team line up volunteers to help with our International Peace Team trainings. He was working on plans to bring an investigative photojournalist from Gaza – Sameh Habeeb – here to speak. Who knows what all else Bill was doing….. in his role at Lansing Community College as a teacher & advisor there; or with People for Positive Social Change, where he acted as their faculty advisor; or for the Greater Lansing United Nations Association, where he was a board member; or as a long-time member of the Peace Education Center & founding member of the Middle East Awareness Committee? Tomorrow, at noon, is the regular vigil at the Capital for peace in the Middle East. And for the first time in memory, Bill won’t be there.
Bill was afire with a passion for peace with justice, for an end to the occupation of Palestine, and with the belief that one person CAN make a difference. He loved life, and he loved the people in his life, and he made sure they knew it.
May each of us take and own a piece of that fire that burned so brightly in Bill. May we pass it along to new friends and new peacemakers. And may we renew our own dedication to the kind of nonviolent, creative peacemaking that Bill so boldly, selflessly, and joyfully showed us.