Two people who were very precious not only to Beyond Nuclear, but to humanity, chose to leave this world on Tuesday, July 26th.
Judi Friedman, 80 and Lou Friedman, 81 — educators, humanitarians, peace envoys, parents, grandparents, friends, colleagues — died at home in Connecticut, leaving life in the same selfless manner that they lived it.
They slipped away together like two teenagers on a secret date, which in many ways is exactly who they always were. Sweethearts since college, sweethearts they remained. Their enduring love envisioned no agony of separation or bereavement one from the other; no hell of hospitals; no burden on their loved ones. They ended it when they still could, clear of mind but wracked by too many physical tortures.
Nothing we can say or write about them can ever do them justice. The praise they heaped on our work, our commitment, was almost impossible to return. To them, we were always amazing, precious people, doing incredible and important work. Yet these were the accolades that described Judi and Lou precisely.
Lou Friedman was a founding board member of Beyond Nuclear and the Chair of our Board of Directors at the time of his death. He also co-founded Beyond Nuclear, helping to craft the organization from its inception. He was our cornerstone, our anchor. But Lou also ensured that our building would not crumble; our ship would not drift or founder. He worked tirelessly to build Beyond Nuclear into the organization it is today, reaching out to everyone far and wide to encourage their support and participation.
Judi Friedman ran her own Connecticut-based organization — People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE). At the same time, she was as much a part of the Beyond Nuclear family as Lou. She too reached out to offer help, ideas, leads. We would not be where we are today without them.
How they found the time to dedicate themselves to our cause alongside the many others they embraced will forever remain a mystery. From promoting détente between Russians and Americans during the Cold War; peace activism through Promoting Enduring Peace; fundraising for victims of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster; protection of nature and all creatures and plants; running nature camps for children; and promotion of renewable energy implementation; their lives were replete with service.
They saw all issues as connected. Environmental advocacy was as much about civil rights as it was about clean air. And they still had time for family and friends, their dogs and horses. The big picture and the small held equal importance.
They were early pioneers of solar energy, and they lived that talk at their Canton, CT home. In addition to solar panels, the land around their home was graced with berry bushes, ponds, stables and a paddock, and wooded areas to ramble in. A second home in Sandisfield, MA, offered solace and refuge and an opportunity for Judi to introduce visitors to the minutiae and curiosities of the natural world, from edible bull rushes to petrified fungi.
Judi wrote many books in her efforts to help children, especially, stay in touch with nature and the outdoors. She maintained a wonder for that world that was both inspirational and infectious.
Lou, a teacher by profession, founded the Westledge School in Simsbury, CT, in 1968. It was deliberately experimental and multiracial, and like Lou, it was bold and forward-thinking. When the school closed, Lou and Judi’s commitment never wavered. On they went to the next challenge.
This included, in 1985, a peace cruise they organized on the Mississippi River for U.S. and Soviet citizens. They also visited Moscow and presented Mikhail Gorbachev with a solar watch.
Alongside PACE, Beyond Nuclear became the heart and soul of their activism over the last ten years. There were times when the frustration of the challenge to get people to care about the dangers of nuclear power became exasperating. Why didn’t the major media give greater coverage to this issue — especially after Fukushima? How could we get more members of the public to learn about the dangers of nuclear energy and vigorously oppose it? Where were the charitable foundations that might support our work?
Lou and Judi’s answer was always to work harder, come up with new ideas, and do more. And when we did, Lou and Judi responded with enthusiasm, affirmation, encouragement and accolades. On March 26, 2010, PACE honored the staff of Beyond Nuclear with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
In a 1992 New York Times article about Lou and Judi, the reporter noticed a framed letter on their wall dating back to 1880, written by Judi’s aunt to her grandmother. It read: "Do all you can, for all the people you can, in every place you can at all the times you can, in all the ways you can and as long as ever you can.” It was a mantra that Judi and Lou held to throughout their lifetime.
So while we still struggle with the sorrow and irreplaceable loss we feel; while we strive to come to terms with the fact that Planet Earth will no longer reap the benefits of having Lou and Judi living on it and working on behalf of its welfare and survival; we know we must continue their work and endeavor to achieve that world beyond nuclear, beyond hate and beyond war.
Canton community paper tribute to Lou and Judi. http://cantoncompass.com/2016/718846/canton-community-mourns-loss-of-judi-and-lou-friedman/