Last week, I attended Ira’s memorial service in his adopted, long-time home town of Menlo Park, California. A few people flew in from across the country, which may be par for the course in an age when airplanes ply the sky like buses. . . and the deceased often reach the ripe age of 90 allowing them to influence many lives.
Ira influenced more people than most, however. But therein lies the “unsaintly” rub. His influence came at the expense of his two children and other loved ones who often had to “share” him with a large group of admirers and followers.
Ira created quiet ripples with his advocacy of nonviolence, and these frequently turned into waves. Ira perhaps reached the peak of his influence during the sixties and seventies when he mentored Joan Baez’s and helped advise Martin Luther King, Jr. As such, he impacted the Berkeley Free Speech movement, the Civil Rights struggle, the Vietnam War peace effort, and other causes Baez and King championed.
Ira held court as “philosopher king” at Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park where he worked for years, but he also taught at a nonviolence study institute and at a nearby alternative school. He authored the book A Little Kinder.
Other anecdotes regarding Ira in my next blog and specifics about how he influenced my life in Cleft Heart: Chasing Normal due out October 1st.