OBITUARY: DAN PETTY
By Bill Roberts | August 23, 2002 | Page 4
DAN PETTY, a founding member of the International Socialist Organization who was loved by all who knew him, died on August 8 at age 51.
Although not an active member over the last decade, his politics remained firm, and he never lost the vision of a better society, fit for human beings to live in. Dan's strength was his commitment to the downtrodden--to the oppressed and exploited of this world.
It was natural for Dan to fight for justice denied. Racism never went unchallenged if it came within his orbit. In Cincinnati, Dan once successfully backed down a group of racist bullies in the midst of a huge crowd during the annual Labor Day fireworks display. He didn't calculate the odds. He calculated the injustice and set about to fix it.
Dan joined the International Socialists while a student at Central Washington State University in 1972. He was active in the antiwar movement and had helped organize a campus strike in 1970, when Nixon extended the Vietnam War into Cambodia.
Dan championed children. He once sold his motorcycle to purchase playground equipment for a co-op day-care center. Children in trouble found their way into Dan's heart--and quite often into his family's home for a period.
Dan had a natural gift for talking to ordinary people. His forthright approach and unassuming manner helped bridge any suspicions.
He served as president of his AFSCME local at the University of Cincinnati physical plant in the mid-1980s. In this period of defeats for the labor movement, Dan stood up to every blow that the bosses dealt. Over time, those blows exacted a price. Because the union was unsuccessful at controlling conditions, Dan was forced by an old motorcycle injury to seek less strenuous employment.
In 1989, he moved to his boyhood home of Spokane, Wash., where he took a job as a proofreader in a printing plant. There, with his wife Celia (also a founding ISO member), they raised two marvelous children of their own and helped several other children survive the cruelty and backwardness of this society.
Besides Celia, a union organizer in New York City, Dan is survived by his son Sean, an active member of the ISO in Los Angeles, and daughter Leia, a student at Lewis and Clark University in Portland, Ore.
Dan's contributions to working-class solidarity and socialism can't be found in a book. They can be found in the hearts and memories of those he touched in his too-short life.
He was a socialist worker who lived his ideals and inspired others by his example. That is a legacy that we who knew him are proud to carry forward.