¡David Whittlesey, Presente!
Fire This Time remembers a tireless fighter, leader, co-organizer and friend
By Ali Yerevani & Janine Solanki
On February 20, 2021, our friend and co-fighter David Whittlesey passed away peacefully, with his family by his side. David is dearly remembered and missed by his family, friends, and fellow social justice activists.
David remains an inspiration - for his energy, humour, enthusiasm and tireless commitment to peace and social justice activism. David had a long history of standing up for just causes throughout his life, including as an organizer in the U.S. civil rights movement and the Vietnam anti-war movement. In the last 16 years of his life, David took up the cause again and was active in antiwar activism, Cuba solidarity, and even travelled to Cuba for the Che Guevara volunteer work brigade. David always had a story to share from social justice struggles in the past and quickly connected his experience and knowledge to the current situation and causes.
David was a devoted catholic, but politically without any doubt, he was a leftist and humanist. He was involved and very active with all the political campaigns Fire This Time has been organizing. He worked with Mobilization Against War & Occupation - MAWO in campaigning against war, occupation, and sanctions. He was an active organizer with our campaigns against the war in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, and Afghanistan. He was an organizer with the Free the Cuban 5 Committee Vancouver in defence of five Cuban heroes jailed in the United States. David’s love for humanity made him a staunch anti-imperialist activist. David was against the blockade of Cuba and spoke many times at rallies or forums about it. David was part of the campaign against U.S. aggression against Venezuela. He spoke very strongly in public meetings and rallies against sanctions and the blockade of Venezuela. He did everything that one can expect from a devoted fighter for human causes. David Whittlesey was a genuine human-loving advocate. David strongly believed in Indigenous rights. David was against injustice – there was no exception in his belief for any noble cause.
David was born in New York on October 3, 1934 and grew up in New York and nearby Jersey Shore and Westchester County. David was an active organizer in the U.S. civil rights movement and the Vietnam antiwar movement. He married his wife Jennifer in 1970, and in 1972 they moved north to a farm in Prince Edward Island (PEI), where they became homesteaders, growing their own food. They lived in PEI for about 20 years, where they raised their children Josie, Adam, and Ian, before moving to the capital of PEI, Charlottetown, for six years, and then to the West Coast to live on Salt Spring Island for a few years. They moved to Vancouver in 2005.
We met David for the first time about a week after moving to Vancouver. David saw a MAWO antiwar poster on a street pole, came to a MAWO event, and soon became a co-organizer and co-fighter in Mobilization Against War and Occupation! From that day and that first meeting, David became an integral and inseparable part of our struggle for humanity and a better world.
For sixteen years, we enjoyed working with him. He was important not only because he was an active organizer and a leader, but because his presence gave our team a sense of continuity and devotion, considering that most of our organizers and activists are one-third of his age.
David was a man with a vision for peace, joy, and love. He was an active human being with a strong desire to change the world. His character was full of humour and confidence. Once Ali Yerevani, the editor of Fire This Time newspaper, who is Iranian with a big smile, asked him, “What could an American like you and an Iranian like me have in common?” David laughed loudly and said, “We are both against the U.S. government. That’s a good start, my friend!”
David was our co-fighter. That great man, a deeply devoted Catholic, was our comrade.