We are stunned in our grief. Bill Pelke died of heart attack on Thursday. The hole left in our hearts and in our movement is massive.
Click here to read the official announcement from the Journey of Hope …From Violence to Healing, the organization Bill founded.
Bill was on sabbatical from leadership with the Journey. He knew he needed to step away if the organization was to build its own legs to stand on. Wisely, he has left the Journey in good hands.
While Bill was taking a break from Journey leadership, he never slowed in his abolition work. We are grateful that Bill has been doing a lot with Death Penalty Action this year, notably co-hosting the Voices of Experience on the Death Penalty programs with me, and traveling to protest the federal executions both in Terre Haute and in Washington, DC. I expected to see Bill again this week as we protest the execution on Thursday, Nov 19.
A few of us gathered to be together on Friday evening. It was very comforting. I invite you to watch that Big Hug For Bill Pelke informal zoom gathering.
Last year during the Journey of Hope events in Ohio, Death Penalty Action organized the first-ever Journey of Hope Leadership Awards, and the Journey board had the wisdom to award Bill Pelke a Lifetime Achievement Award. Click here to peruse the event booklet, with words by and about Bill and others.
Bill leaves some big shoes to fill, and there are ways that you can help.
Bill had a special relationship with an orphanage in Uganda, founded by our friend Mpagi Edward Edmary, a man who survived 20 years on Ugandan death row for a crime that never even happened. For years Bill has sponsored care for children there. Click here to learn more and consider filling Bill’s shoes in Uganda by providing funding for the care of a Ugandan orphan.
Bill Pelke showed up in my in-box one last time, yesterday:
Bill Pelke was a Death Penalty Action sustainer, a monthly donor, not once, not twice, but supporting three different Death Penalty Action programs.
Today I went into the system to cancel his three monthly recurring donations.
If you would like to help fill Bill Pelke’s shoes with Death Penalty Action, here are links to support his favorite programs.
Follow Bill’s leadership to make it monthly by clicking the box on the donation form.
- Support the Voices of Experience program here.
- Support the ongoing work in Ohio here.
- Support the work to stop federal executions here.
- Support the general fund here.
Of course, it’s not about the money. Bill wanted to empower the work. He absolutely believed in the need for and the work of Death Penalty Action. The work goes on. We have action in Ohio, in Congress, and another federal execution this week. More on all of that soon.
In memory and honor of our friend, a man who has been my friend and colleague now for over 30 years, I thank you for your support towards furthering Bill’s legacy.
Bill Pelke is here in spirit. Today, sadly, he is honorably unsubscribed. Big hugs to you all.
Abraham J. Bonowitz
Director, Death Penalty Action
PS: Three federal executions remain scheduled in the coming weeks, and Death Penalty Action is leading the grassroots opposition. Sign and share our new petition urging president Trump to halt the executions.