Morton—Margaret Miner “Peg” Morton, 85, peacefully, on December 19, 2015, in Eugene, Ore., following an intentional end-of-life fast. Peg was born on October 31, 1930, in Cambridge, Mass., the youngest of three daughters. She spent her childhood summers on Maine’s Yarmouth Island, a magical place that taught her the joy of being in nature and the value of hard physical work. She graduated from Oberlin College in 1953, and after earning a master’s degree in history and a teaching certificate from University of Chicago in 1956, she married Leland Gale Stauber in a simple outdoor ceremony on Yarmouth Island conducted by her mother, an ordained minister. Peg and Lee moved to Carbondale, Ill., in 1966.
A member of Southern Illinois Meeting (then Carbondale Meeting), Peg served as a Democratic precinct committeeperson, helped to spearhead school integration, and during the Vietnam War stood in a silent vigil every Saturday. She and Lee divorced in 1980, and following a career as a rural outreach counselor, in 1989 she moved to Eugene, Ore., joined Eugene Meeting and began her activist work with the Latin America Solidarity Committee, (then called the Committee in Solidarity with the Central American People). She traveled to Nicaragua as a witness to the Contra War atrocities for Witness for Peace. Her many acts of civil disobedience sometimes resulted in arrest. In 2004 she served a three-month term in federal prison for entering the Fort Benning grounds to protest the teaching of torture techniques to Latin American soldiers by the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (then called the School of the Americas). She was also a member of Women in Black, a group that holds weekly silent vigils against war and violence, and a war tax resister, donating to charity the portion of her taxes that would support the military-industrial complex. She recently fasted on the state capitol steps to protest budget cuts to health coverage for people with disabilities.
Peg ended her life as she lived it, with purpose, passion, and dedication to the path laid out for her by the Light within, leaving behind a legacy of commitment to social justice and peace. Simplicity, pacifism, equality, and integrity guided her life. Her family and extensive network of friends will miss this exuberant, determined, vibrant, and fearless woman. Her memoir, Feeling Light Within, I Walk: Tales, Adventures, and Reflections of a Quaker Activist, is available at Quakerbooks.com or from feelinglightwithin.com.
Peg was preceded in death by her parents, Marcus and Margaret Morton; her much-loved aunt, Helen Morton; two sisters, Marian White and Lea Johnson; and her dear cousin, Henry Bird. She is survived by her children, Do Mi Stauber (Trisha Whitney), Heidi Stauber (Michael Hurtenbach), and Anna Sommers; five grandchildren; a loving extended family; and countless friends. The family suggests that donations in Peg’s honor be made to Eugene Friends Meeting, 2274 Onyx Street, Eugene, OR 97403, or to the Latin America Solidarity Committee, 458 Blair Blvd., Eugene, OR 97402. Other ways to honor Peg’s memory include these: (1) Live more simply, buying less and giving unwanted possessions to those in need; (2) Take time to absorb the beauty of the natural world, and take action to protect the environment; (3) Speak out in support of the marginalized or oppressed; (4) Reach out in friendship to someone who is different from you in race, culture, language, ability, or sexual orientation; and (5) Sit in silence, listening to the still, small voice within you.