'Grannies For Peace' Member Lillian Willoughby, 93, Remembered

I still remember the day the Grannies for Peace were arrested, and thought it was important to note this member's passing. Lillian Willoughby's commitment to peace is a real inspiration - I can't imagine going to jail at any age, let alone at 89:

Lillian Pemberton Willoughby, 93, of Deptford, a retired dietitian and Quaker activist who went to jail to protest the war in Iraq three months before her 90th birthday, died Jan. 15 at home.

For 65 years Mrs. Willoughby demonstrated against war, racism and nuclear proliferation. Sometimes she was arrested, but the charges were dismissed.

That wasn't what happened, however, when she and four other peace activists were charged with obstructing the entrance to the Federal Building in Philadelphia on March 20, 2003, the day after the Iraq war began.

Magistrate Judge Arnold C. Rapaport gave the protesters a choice: Pay a $250 fine or face jail time. Mrs. Willoughby told the judge she would pay if "you can use the money to provide clean drinking water to children in Iraq or to lessen our grandchildren's tax burden for paying for this war." Rapaport said he wasn't in a position to negotiate.

On Oct. 21, 2004, Mrs. Willoughby gave her husband, George, a hug and a kiss, rose from her wheelchair, and entered the federal detention center in Philadelphia to serve a seven-day sentence. She told supporters she would pass the time by exercising, praying and writing. She did fine, her daughter Sally said, and was soon back to protesting.

In June 2006, Mrs. Willoughby and other members of the Granny Peace Brigade Philadelphia carried an apple pie to the Army Recruitment Center on Broad Street in Center City and told the staff that they wanted to enlist in place of their grandchildren. She was arrested with the other women, but charges were dismissed.


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