WILPF – September 2017

WILPF – September 2017


WILPF will meet Thursday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Fresno Center for Nonviolence (1584 N. Van Ness Ave.). This meeting is open to all members.


A worldwide network of women committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to injustice, war, militarism and other forms of violence. Meet Sept. 6 (first Wednesday of each month) at noon at the Fresno County Courthouse. Wear black, bring a sign if you wish and stand in silence for peace.


On Sept. 27 at 3 p.m. (4th Wednesday of each month), enjoy listener-supported free speech radio for Central California as Jean Hays does outstanding interviews on subjects involving WILPF interests and activities. Tune in to 88.1!


Meetings on selected Mondays at 7 p.m. Call Patty at 559-999-9709 for details.


Nora DeWitt’s early years, first under Nazi occupation, and later as a refugee, may be her impetus for being a social justice advocate. She was born Nora Szabo in western Hungary in 1940, the same year Germany pressured the country to join the Axis. By March 1944, German forces occupied Hungary. In 1945, when invading Soviet armies moved in from the East, Nora’s family walked across the border to Bavaria and was sheltered by a priest. Nora attended school in Bavaria from grades one to three, becoming fluent in German.

Nora Dewitt

After the UN High Commissioner for Refugees was founded in 1949, Nora’s family became eligible for resettlement and was offered immigration by Australia, Venezuela and the United States. Nine-year-old Nora chose the family’s future when she was asked to open just one drawer. Inside, she found the word Australia.

After a six-week passage to Sydney, the family stayed in a camp near Sydney. Later, they were sent to Brisbane, where her father worked as an industrial artist designing railway carriages and her mother worked in a wool factory. The Szabo family saved money to buy a farm on the outskirts of Brisbane. Nora finished high school there and earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Queensland in Brisbane.

While studying for a Ph.D. in microbiology, Nora’s professor sent her to a science conference in London. At a layover in Tehran, a handsome man with curly red hair boarded the plane and in Nora’s words, “it was love at first sight.” Until Nora could finish her Ph.D., they carried on a long-distance relationship for the next six years, meeting occasionally in California or Rome. After their wedding in 1971, they helped friends near Siena with their grape harvest and Nora cooked for 20 people.

Baby Sophia, born in a Sienna pediatric clinic in 1974, was two months premature and weighed three pounds. She spent two months in an incubator. At 18 months, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Because Hiram’s mother lived in Fresno, the family moved here in 1975. Sophia’s brother Zoltan was born in 1978.

Nora worked in immunology for 30 years at Valley Children’s Hospital. Her involvement with WILPF began with the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign. Under Nora and Hiram’s leadership as county chairpersons, the Freeze passed in Fresno County, but unfortunately it didn’t pass statewide. In the early 1990s, Nora became membership chair of WILPF, keeping the directory up-to-date in digital and print formats. She stayed in this position for more than 20 years.

Since her beginning in WILPF, she has watched membership grow and has seen benefits to the Fresno community that include co-sponsoring speakers such as Amy Goodman, installing the Jane Addams sculpture at Fresno State’s Peace Garden and children’s book presentations in branch libraries. In addition, Nora mentored a social work intern. She credits WILPF with the joy of working with like-minded friends. Bravo, Nora, for your lifelong dedication to peace and social justice!

—Sally Vogl



Good news, mark your calendars. Roger Perry is doing a Sun Records Tribute Night and will donate the proceeds to the Dakota EcoGarden. And we’ll still be depending on you because the admission will be a “free will offering” to this excellent cause. Sunday, Sept. 24, at Fulton 55, 5 p.m.–9 p.m. The Dakota EcoGarden, supported by WILPF, is a transitional home for otherwise homeless adults who are ready to live in a community and to take steps as needed to regain their independence. We are small but have found a way to help quite a few homeless people take back their lives. Please find more information on the Web site ecovillagefresno.org or at the Dakota EcoGarden Facebook page.



Our Life to Live was shown Aug. 6 at the United Japanese Christian Church. Hibakusha is the Japanese word for the surviving victims of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. WILPF, Peace Fresno, Veterans for Peace, the Fresno Center for Nonviolence, the Reedley Peace Center, the Human Rights Coalition, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno and the United Japanese Christian Church presented this film about the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the aftermath and the lives of the survivors. For WILPF, this was in support of Reaching Critical Will for the end of nuclear armament—support the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty. A diverse audience attended and discussed the ideas raised.



On Saturday, Aug. 12, people from many Fresno groups, including WILPF, gathered at the historic Peace Corner to protest threats of war. Passing motorists did a lot of honking for peace.



We went to Cuba with the Pastors for Peace Caravan, carrying a big load of solidarity and other blockade-breaking stuff. We saw some of the things in Cuba that the U.S. government doesn’t want us to see—the universal healthcare system, free education, urban agriculture, the women’s movement, new cooperative economic models, the LGBTQ+ community, the African diaspora experiences at the roots of Cuban resistance and the Cuban religious community—Christian churches, African-based religions, Islam. We reported on it initially on Aug. 18, and if you or your group would like to hear more, just ask us. For more info, contact lenivreeves@gmail.com.

(left to right) Jean Hays, Leni Villagomez Reeves, Ernesto Guevara, Michael Ballin and Gerry Bill


The WILPF page is compiled and edited by Leni Villagomez Reeves or Patty Bennett. Contact at lenivreeves@gmail.com.


  • Community Alliance

    The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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