Michael John Halliwell

Halliwell—Michael John Halliwell, 77, on July 16, 2020, in Van Nuys, Calif. Mike was born on October 4, 1942, to Lloyd Halliwell and Betty Baner in Los Angeles, Calif. Mike’s parents divorced when he was eight years old. He lived with various relatives and in foster homes until enrolling at University of California, Los Angeles in 1959. At UCLA, Mike met Betty Ladd, whom he married in 1966. Both Mike and Betty went into college teaching. Mike taught sociology from 1968–2004 at California State University, Long Beach, in tandem with his ongoing political activism and research. Betty retired after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1991. During his final decade teaching, Mike’s main focus was breast cancer research, which led to therapies that helped Betty’s treatment. Following successful therapy, Betty established Books for Peace, which shipped donated books to Peace Corps libraries and school projects overseas. After Betty succumbed to cancer in 2013, Mike kept the book project going and made arrangements for the project to continue following his death.

Mike found spiritual nourishment among Quakers. He became a member of Redwood Forest Meeting in Santa Rosa, Calif., in November 2005. He was open about his personal beliefs but was willing to listen to other points of view. Mike supported Quaker testimonies of simplicity, integrity, equality, unity, and community and generally supported the peace testimony and the innate dignity and preciousness of human life. He believed that violence to prevent the imminent death of another human being or to prevent genocide was acceptable and supported the death penalty under certain circumstances.

Mike was a regular contributor to meeting projects. He attended a Bible study group, served on a working group calling for closure of Guantanamo Bay detention camp, was active in the Quaker-Muslim Friendship Group, and served as the meeting’s archivist. Mike provided regular transportation to Sunday worship for some members and could be counted on for snack preparation and cleanup. 

Mike had a long history of activism involving civil rights, the environment, and international issues. He ran for the Republican seat in the U.S. Congress for Marin and Sonoma Counties in 2006, 2010, and 2012.

When Mike learned that Bolivia has the world’s third largest population of Quakers, he approached members of the meeting who were active with the WALJOK Foundation, which supports education in Bolivia. Mike sponsored two student scholarships through Bolivian Quaker Education Fund (BQEF). A Books For Peace library was established in the BQEF office in La Paz and another library for high school students in a rural area of Bolivia. Mike arranged for this work to continue into the future.

Mike was committed to the preservation of Indigenous cultures in Guatemala through education. He funded a Books for Peace project with Guatemala Friends Scholarship Program (Progresa) that established libraries to assist teachers and students. His mission statement was displayed in each library: Let the word go forth that the torch has been passed from the ancient Mayan civilization to its living descendants. The libraries provided a means to teach Mayan languages. Mike also sponsored one student in sociolinguistics who was committed to the teaching of Mayan languages.

Mike remained in Sonoma County following Betty’s death, eventually moving back to Southern California, where he attended Orange Grove Meeting in Pasadena. He enjoyed competing in chess tournaments and, at the time of his death, was working with two computer engineers to create a three-dimensional chess game.

Mike is survived by his niece, Mehera Halliwell, and his nephew, Logan Halliwell.

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