Lois Pitkin Booth

BoothLois Pitkin Booth, 97, on September 13, 2019, in Concord, N.H. Lois was born on June 14, 1922, in Epping, N.H., into a Methodist family. She married Don Booth, a conscientious objector who performed alternative service during World War II, and they moved to Canterbury, N.H., in 1951, for a few years, living in intentional communities around the country, but always returning to Canterbury. In the 1950s she became an early member of newly formed Concord Meeting in Canterbury.

This highly intelligent college graduate raised six children in the no-frills country home Don built, growing many of the family’s vegetables, baking her own whole grain bread from wheat she grew, and feeding her family sprouts and vegetarian meals long before they were fashionable. She patiently cared for her father’s last years in her home. She and Don joyfully shared their cars, tools, labor, and fruits of her garden with those in need, offering wholesome meals and a bed to many Concord arrivals trying out lifestyles with small earnings. As a part-time realtor, she focused on appropriate land use, buying wisely, reselling for good purposes whenever possible, and donating several parcels of land, including the Riverland Conservation area and town beach on the Merrimack River. Their love and generosity had a ripple effect: Concord Meeting found land for a new meetinghouse when an organization to whom the Booths had previously donated land gifted some of it to the meeting.

Lois was the fire that kept Concord Meeting warm, with her optimism, belief in love’s power to transform, and ability to motivate and organize people using food, music, and fun. She was skilled at drawing out the strengths of others and then stepping aside to let them lead. Wisdom born from difficulty and hardship in her own life attracted others to seek her counsel, and she met them with compassion and prayers. Aware that Friends bring diverse gifts, she made sure to welcome people regardless of their ability to contribute financially. She started the meeting’s First-day school, aiming that every child feel loved and asking that the Religious Education Committee pray for the children individually. She promoted music and hymns to help children connect with the Spirit and to give them a resource they could draw upon for a lifetime, which led to today’s whole-meeting singing before unprogrammed worship. She was clerk of the Peace and Social Concerns Committee for years and regularly brought flowers to meeting from her garden.

In her witness, she focused on root causes, not symptoms. Her faith in a loving God centered her actions. Her tolerance in the face of interpersonal conflict and her use of communication to strengthen relationships let peace begin with her. She lovingly accepted all people, no matter how difficult or mentally ill. She often said that God is Love.

Her war tax resistance started during the Korean War. Willing to speak truth to power, she gently but forcefully worked for peace and justice. Beginning with the Nuclear Test Ban movement, she organized and educated, providing information to lead to change. A key force behind the opening of an American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) New Hampshire office in 1978, she organized Canterbury Citizens for Peace and Justice in 1981 and helped found New Hampshire Peace Action in 1982, leading two decades of fundraising.

She and Don moved to Havenwood Retirement Community in 2003. Never frustrated or bitter as her body and mind aged, she was cheerful to the end. Even in her last years, she gave vocal ministry of the loving words of Jesus.

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