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John T. MacLean

[ Originally published on: Thursday, August 26, 2010 ]

GREENFIELD -- John Thomas MacLean of Greenfield, a longtime peace and social activist, carpenter and former chemical engineer, died peacefully on Sunday (8-22-10) in Greenfield.

Tom was 84 and lived independently, with help from his friends, until days before his passing. He lived in Greenfield mostly since 1978.

Tom was dedicated to principles of justice, non-violence and humanity's common fate. From 1980-90, he worked with the Institute for Community Economics, which organizes community development loan funds nationwide. He recently served on the Boards of the Franklin Community Cooperative and Common Good Finance and volunteered with the Handy Neighbor Volunteers fixing the homes of the elderly.

A war tax refuser since 1970, Tom was active with Pioneer Valley War Tax Refusers and the local Veterans for Peace Chapter, and a regular at the Greenfield Common Saturday Peace Vigil. His radio show ''Imagine'' was broadcast on public access radio and featured interviews with local folks and activists.

Born in 1925 and raised in Murray, Ky., Tom fondly recalled his small town upbringing, its close-knit community and the freedom he enjoyed roaming creeks and woods.

Tom served in the Army Signal Corps late 1943-46 and arrived in Europe in October 1944.

He completed his undergraduate degree and did graduate studies in chemical engineering, married and raised three sons in the 1950s and 60s and worked with Boeing Aircraft in Seattle 1959-70. During these family years, he was a baseball coach, outdoorsman, Scoutmaster and volunteer with United Good Neighbor Fund.

In 1970, Tom left job and family to devote himself to peace and social causes and intentional community. In 1976, he participated in a cross-country walk for global disarmament and in 1977 worked in Brussels with the War Resisters League. In 2003, he volunteered with Peace Brigades International in Sri Lanka, providing protective accompaniment to civil rights lawyers. In 2003, Tom was arrested in a civil disobedience action at Fort Benning, Ga., calling for closure of the School of the Americas and subsequently served 90 days in federal prison.

Tom was known for the courage of his convictions, personal charm and generosity, simple living, resourcefulness and intelligence; he was an avid contra dancer.

A memorial celebration and potluck for Tom will be held Sunday, Aug. 29, at 4 p.m., at Woolman Hill, Deerfield.

Memorial contributions are suggested to the local Veterans for Peace Chapter, 16B West Main St., New Salem, MA 01355 or Woolman Hill, 121 Keets Road, Deerfield, MA 01342.