History's HEROES? Dated 1919 - 2014

Pete Seeger

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Newport, RI and Poughkeepsie, NY
Pete was a performer and organizer of the Newport Folk Festival, where I got to know him. Activities from his sloop helped clean up the Hudson River.


  • Brought progressive ideas to younger people
  • Taught the elements of good song writing
  • Was a great personal ambassador of good will
  • Inspired by his songs, his decency and his integrity
  • From chemical testing to lobbying, helped clean up the Hudson River
  • Seldom raised his voice; he convinced people through reason
  • Perhaps he was ambitious, but never stepped on anyone else
  • He was probably the only actual saint I ever met


  • Brave / Courageous
  • A good and strong leader
  • Altruistic (puts other first e.g. risks or gives life for others)
  • Clever
  • Visionary (has far reaching ideas)
  • Good or moral (strong beliefs or principles)
  • Has integrity (stands up for what they believe and act accordingly)
  • Perseverant / Tenacious (keeps going despite challenges)
  • Decisive
  • Single minded / Focused (has a purpose)
  • Inspiring / Charismatic
  • Determined
  • Wise
  • Honest
  • Kind and compassionate
  • Just and fair minded

External link

Wikipedia article


"I've never sung anywhere without giving the people listening to me a chance to join in - as a kid, as a lefty, as a man touring the U.S.A. and the world, as an oldster. I guess it's kind of a religion with me. Participation. That's what's going to save the human race." - Pete Seeger

"It's a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with." - Pete Seeger

All his life he supported justice and peace, environmental sanity and education, and I was lucky to know him. Perhaps the only living saint I ever met.

Pete was the leading inspiration to my life and many others. He never lost his purpose in life: to be creative and educative, public and simple. He is much missed.

Pete was born into a musical family, performing classical music & discovering folk music. He grew up traveling, perfecting his vocal, guitar and banjo skills. In a time of bigotry against Japanese, Pete married Toshi, half-Japanese, and they were married close to 70 years until her death--a few months before he died--leaving children & grandchildren who are talented musically. Pete became a Socialist in the Depression, served in the Army in WWII but always supported peaceful democratic solutions. After the war he and others of like politics founded the Weavers folk group. When they lost sponsors during the McCarthyism hysteria Pete and Toshi learned how to live simply. He came back to popularity with the folk revival of the 1950s-60s--with his own meaningful songs that energized a new generation to work for civil rights, against war, and later for environmental justice. He bought and repaired, with friends, a sloop renamed Clearwater which made frequent voyages up & down the Hudson, stopping to lobby politicians and speak to school children, taking on day-trip passengers, with the goal of cleaning the industrially polluted Hudson, which had positive results. Although the folk music era passed, Pete remained an active stage performer even in old age, encouraging young performers who joined him on stage, and was adulated by audiences. He and Toshi lived in a wooded setting outside Beacon, NY, not far from Poughkeepsie, and she died at 91 just before their 70th anniversary. He followed 6 months later, at age 94, early in 2014.

Life in Pete Seeger's world

Pete did a tremendous amount of traveling. In the US Toshi often stayed home, but she came to many folk festivals and usually accompanied him on overseas trips. At home they and their kin and friends did a lot of the building expansion & repair to the house in Beacon, which continued nearly to his death. The home was down an isolated dirt road, but they were seldom alone. One of their joys was to have company for dinner or even overnight.

Was Pete Seeger a Hero?

  • I'd call Pete a SUPERHERO.
  • "Super" means extraordinarily great.
  • "Hero" means achieving remarkable things.
  • More than anyone I ever met, he did that.

Things you might not know about Pete Seeger

Pete never really retired. He continually visited schools, not only in his neighborhood but in other states, teaching young pupils traditional folk songs and regaling them with stories of earlier times and his travels. He avoided propagandizing them but some of his songs were clearly for the 99% of the people. I, a Unitarian Universalist, attending church in a small town in nearby Orange County, was delighted when in his elder years he joined the Poughkeepsie Unitarian Universalist Church.
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