Two Remembrances in the Coming Days

For those of us who knew Bill Pelke, or who knew of him, we remain stunned in our grief. Bill Pelke died of heart attack in November. The hole left in our hearts and in our movement remains massive.

There are two remembrances happening over the coming days.

Saturday, June 26 at 12pm EDT/11am CDT/10amMDT/9amPDT — Bills family will hold a Celebration of Life in Indiana. I plan to livestream it on various Facebook pages that Bill was associated with, or you can register to join the Zoom audience here. (Note: This is Bill’s family event, not an abolition event.)

Next week, June 29 to July 2, we have Starvin’ for Justice 2021: the 28th Annual Fast & Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty at the US Supreme Court. Along with Marietta Jaeger and Rick Halperin, Bill was a co-founder of this event. For 27 years, Bill never missed a day. We will be remembering Bill at each of the panel discussions and events that will take place over the four-day event.

Click here to read the official announcement of Bill’s death by the Journey of Hope …From Violence to Healing, the organization Bill founded.

During the Journey of Hope events in Ohio in 2019, 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.

Here are ways that you can help.

Bill was a Vietnam Veteran and survived several injuries as part of the First Air Calvary. For a time, Bill carried the radio for the company commander, a particularly dangerous role. Bill would be appalled to know that the next two scheduled executions in the US are of men who are honorably discharged former Marines. Sign and share the petitions here.

Of course, donations are welcome to the Journey of Hope …From Violence to Healing.

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, just a few days after he died (See images here.) 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.

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, and was present with us at every opportunity. The work goes on.

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. Big hugs to you all.

— abe

Abraham J. Bonowitz

Director, Death Penalty Action

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Death Penalty Action provides high visibility resources, leadership and support in order to stop executions.