Veteran for Peace
Lyle Freeman Mercer
  • 92 years old
  • Date of birth: Jul 11, 1921
  • Place of birth:
    Bellingham, Washington, United States
  • Date of passing: Mar 27, 2014
  • Place of passing:
    Seattle, Washington, United States
Nothing lives long -except the rocks. -Song of the Cheyenne

It was supremely touching how many people came to honor our magnificant patriarch on Saturday. While we still grieve, it deeply comforts us to know we are not alone, having the support of friends who also want to share and preserve Lyle's memory.  

We'll continue to share stories, add links to articles, and upload photos & documents that pay tribute to the marvelous life of Gramps. We encourage you to share with the rest of us! Thanks for your continued support, we will all miss him terribly.
Please email; if you need any assistance or have any recommendations!  Thanks again. 

Dead by his own hand at 92. As a drum major for Peace, Justice and Freedom, he was feared and hounded by the government he had defended in WWII. Although never a communist, his FBI file ran to more than 350 pages. He only shook his head at the preposterous fictions that, with the collaboration of the U of W, inevitably led to being blackballed from employment in his preferred profession as a high school teacher.
 He was active in all spheres of community life; he served on the board of Group Health Cooperative for 20 years, the ACLU, and many other progressive organizations.  He was a lifelong atheist, humanitarian and socialist committed to forging a just and egalitarian society. His wife of 69 years, Barbara (Evans) Mercer, remains in good health, as do his three children, Simone (Don Bothell), Marc and Michele, grandchildren Marlow and Freeman, nephew Kevin, and niece Rene Hilbiber. 

Peace, freedom, and economic justice - Carry on!

In lieu of flowers, a subscription or donation to the Monthly Review Foundation, will be appreciated. 

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by kevin Hilbiber on 29th March 2016

"2 years gone; miss you still, Lyle."

This tribute was added by Marlow Mercer on 5th April 2015

"Dearest Gramps,

Updating Granny on your latest tributes and she wants me to tell you that she never loved anyone as much as you. To her, you were the perfect partner. We miss you more than you would have ever guessed but we do still feel you close to our hearts and you're thought of daily.
Love you forever more. XoXoXo"

This tribute was added by david king on 31st March 2015

Hardly a day goes by that I am not reminded of the wisdom you imparted to my thick skull over the 55 years I was privileged to know you.  Fairness, acceptance of others, unwavering courage in the face of adversity..... All of that, and more.  To me, the greatest lesson of all though, is how you were able to maintain a clear, and even humorous attitude throughout life.  When I take a walk on the woods, am out on the water catching fish, or just looking up to the sky and taking a deep breath, I now know how you did it."

This tribute was added by Marc Mercer on 27th March 2015

"Yo, dad!

I know that you had to go when you went, and I still marvel at your courage to end what was a supremely long,  loving and rewarding life.  But what a hole your lack of  presence has left in my heart…

Meghan and I were out scouring our old haunts for early Verpas last week—typically I found nothing and sharp-eyes found half a dozen just poking up.  But the fragrance of honey buds was in the air!

While I was combing the leaf mold beneath the cottonwoods near Buckley, I thought about how great it would have been to have you with us—or even stuck by old age back home, when we would have brought them to you as an offering of Spring.  In that time you were always so overjoyed to see and touch them, so enthusiast to hear our stories of the chase.

On the way back we stopped at the Tolt River site.  Although a few honey buds had fallen, the cottonwood leaves weren’t yet as big “as a mouse’s ear.”  As we walked along the river to our patch, I had visions of the so many times you and I had strolled that path with baskets in hand.  We came with your great friends George Starkovich, Bob Reed, maybe even “H.V.,” although I remember that he and Marion claimed that eating Verpa’s upset their stomachs.  

What has happened to that once-great area I do not know.  We used to see the creamy white stalks poking up even along the path leading to our happy hunting grounds.  Now it seems that they are confined to an ever-shrinking parcel on the edge of our large and once very productive spot.  We used to come out the woods with baskets nearly full!  In the past few years we have only returned with a few dozen.

By the way, I still have your essay that the P.I. published years ago about our Spring foraging there.  Marvelous literature, as always.  You seemed always to perceive the fleeting nature of life, and the supreme importance of capturing the best fragments in writing for posterity.  I have many such poetic pieces transferred from your soul to the printed page.  Everytime I read them I find inspiration that reminds me to enjoy life to the fullest, like you did, as well as profound desolation that you are now missing from my life.

At sixty-six, I am ready to follow you into the abyss whenever it calls.  But I marvel at the unfolding and charming characters of your two grandchildren.  Both have the remarkable and mysterious joie de vivre that was a hallmark of your life.  I love them so much!

I have to confess that it’s the shits to be an atheist when someone who has been your life-long polestar goes away.  If there were a heaven you’d have been transported there a millisecond after your heart stopped.  But of course that’s fantasy.  The world goes on spinning, burying the best that ever were and will, I think, ever be.

All my love forever and ever,

This tribute was added by Marlow Mercer on 11th July 2014

"Happy Birthday Gramps! We miss you more than you would have ever guessed! Your laugh is what I miss most and your everlasting bright and positive attitude. I love you so dearly. I hope you knew that."

This tribute was added by Jackie Betz on 11th July 2014

"Happy Birthday Lyle!  I always remembered your birthday because it is the same day as my Dad's.  I just miss you terribly and send hugs to Bobby, Simone, Mark, Shelley today and every day. You are in my thoughts every day."

This tribute was added by David Loud on 8th June 2014

"I wish to share the remarks I prepared for Lyle's memorial on May 10:

Lyle was one of the first progressive stalwarts of the WW II generation whom I met after I moved to Seattle in 1969.  I am grateful to have been his friend and ally across the years.
I may first have met Lyle and Bobbi in the movement against the Vietnam War, and I was so glad to march with these veterans for peace. I will always cherish Bobbi’s telling of the dramatic story of how the lengths she went to track her sweetheart Lyle down in an Army hospital in France during the war.
I learned about the People’s Memorial Association when Lyle served as its Secretary, and I signed up many years ago. Such a deal, and the most popular among its counterparts in other states.
I got Group Health coverage in 1972 through my job t the Veterans Hospital and came to appreciate the key role Lyle played for years on the Coop Board of Trustees, holding out for the formative coop values as Group Health found itself pulled further and further into the vortex of the corporatizing health care industry.
Lyle helped lead the grassroots effort during the 1970’s and ‘80’s in WA for national health insurance and lent his support to many local aspects of the quest for health care access and justice, from union organizing in Group Health, to community clinics and the battle to save the Public Health Service Hospital.  
Indeed, it seemed like Lyle was just about everywhere, supporting all the good causes. And always with such good cheer, camaraderie and hopefulness.
It was wonderful to learn that Lyle and my parents in Ohio were active in the same circles after the war, especially the Progressive Party and the campaigns for civil rights and liberties and against McCarthyism and the witch hunts.
My parents connected with Lyle and Bobbi on visits in the late 1980’s when the Mercers hosted an ongoing Monthly Review magazine discussion circle. I remember my father leading a discussion in their back yard about socialism.
As Lyle and Bobbi had to slow down their activism, my spouse Thu-Van and I visited them from time to time. On my last visit a couple of months ago when Lyle was in Hospice at home, I asked how things looked to him. He professed to feeling discouraged. But then he quickly agreed that the best antidote to discouragement was being actively engaged in the struggle – something that was now beyond his strength.
I told him about a national survey which had just revealed that young people in the US were decidedly more progressive in their values and politics than older generations. Lyle agreed that this was a very encouraging sign. I sent to Lyle and Bobbi an article about the survey and added that they could take heart from recognizing that their own work and struggles had paved the way for this historic shift.
I know that Lyle lives on in all of us, and his legacy is alive in the youth who want a more just future. As he wrote in his own epitaph, “Peace, freedom and economic justice – Carry on!” Thank you, Lyle and Bobbi. Thank you, thank you."

This tribute was added by Linda Lotus on 22nd May 2014

"I knew Lyle through my parents.  We were all stimulated and entertained by Lyle, and also encouraged to live life just a little better.  He was truly a great man.

Bobbi, my sympathies for your loss and my admiration for how you must have supported him in this, his last radical act.

Much love to the whole family."

This tribute was added by John Evans on 21st May 2014

"I am sorry to just have learned of Uncle Lyle's passing. While my memories go back many years to Akron I can remember what a fascinating person he was.  Our sincere condolences to Aunt Barbra,Simone, Shelly,Marc, Freeman,Marlow and family.

John, Laura, Katy and Andy Evans , Deerfield Beach FL"

This tribute was added by Jackie Betz on 17th May 2014

"Because of Lyle I became a high school science teacher.  And because of Lyle and Bobby, I had stayed a lefty political activist since meeting them in Seattle in 1980.  Bobby and my Mom were best friends in high school. Bobby, Lyle and I corresponded for 30 years.  Finding a letter in my mailbox from them made my day. Always words of wisdom, humor and encouragement to carry on with the struggle for peace and justice.  My deepest sympathies to all who love him.  He made the world a much better place."

This tribute was added by Marc Mercer on 9th May 2014

"Hey, Dad--Meghan and I went over to our old cottonwood patch near Easton today.  For the first time in years we noticed that someone had been trespassing on the site, including this cretin we call the cap-napper--he only takes the caps from the mushrooms!  Anyhow, we really had to LOOK to find the few that were popping up.  We came home with maybe four pounds--ready, as always, to share--but you you're not there."

This tribute was added by Charles Honey on 21st April 2014

"My thoughts and sympathies to the Mercer family. I only met Lyle once but liked him immediately. He was greatly loved by my brother Mike and his wife Pat. I hope you all find comfort in the high regard in which Lyle was held by so many people like them."

This tribute was added by Michael Honey on 20th April 2014

"We also celebrate Lyle and will do so for the rest of our lives. For us, he has been a guiding light. I met him in 1970 in civil liberties organizing. Pat met Lyle and Bobby later in life and we have counted them among the best of our friends, really like family, and they treated us so well. Lyle had the best qualities of people on the left: compassionate, well read, and he did not put up with any nonsense from whoever might be in power at any point in time. He and Bobby both showed us that many in the WW2 generation had learned profound lessons about the importance of pursuing peace in the world. The two of them together always made us two transplants from the Midwest feel at home in the Pacific NW. Lyle enriched our lives and Bobby continues to do so. We love them both and feel privileged to be a part of their circle of family, friends and comrades.

Mike Honey and Pat Krueger, Tacoma, Wa."

This tribute was added by sandralea tuohy on 20th April 2014

"Lyle was a man no friend will ever forget. He shared himself and his family and his talents with the people who got to know him well. I will miss him terribly,but I'll never forget this giving,loving,and accepting person.                    From: Rody Dobler"

This tribute was added by sandralea tuohy on 20th April 2014

"Lyle is the most passionate, caring, and intelligent person I've ever met.  And what a great sense of humor.  Not even the FBI could accuse Lyle of being mediocre--about anything!"

This tribute was added by Rusty Nelson on 19th April 2014

"On behalf of Spokane Veterans for Peace, I offer condolences and congratulations to Lyle's family, friends and comrades on a fitting and inspiring death to follow a courageous and generous life.  I believe I only met Lyle once, but I will remember him often as an example of what makes Veterans for Peace a great resource for those who love our country enough to insist that it become much better."

This tribute was added by Cheryl Banks on 17th April 2014

"I met Lyle in person years after I met Barbara in my capacity as a Volunteer Coordinator. Anytime that I phoned the home and Lyle answered, he was always friendly. It seemed to me that he really liked Barbara and if she liked being a part of our organization, then he liked me and what I was connect to.  I could tell that she has a special sort of integrity and then I joined Veterans for Peace as an Associate Member and discovered that they both were Chapter 92 Members as well. The day that they came out to march with me for a few blocks down Broadway at one of the two Gay Pride Parades where I represented VfP, I not only was touched by their kindness in supporting me, and the other Parade participants, I also enjoyed talking to them until they felt that they needed to peel off. I intend to be at the Memorial Service to honor this dear man who certainly showed us how to live one's life."

This tribute was added by Albert Penta on 16th April 2014

"Lyle was a great , yet simple,  man.   He lived a life of principle and honor---- a life-time of work and dedication that will live on after him. He was always upbeat , cheerful and optimistic.  What a wonderful person!  We will all miss you, Lyle"

This tribute was added by Michael Saeger on 16th April 2014

"Darcia and I consider ourselves lucky for having had the pleasure of being Lyle’s neighbors for over twenty years.  Lyle’s intelligence, sense of humor and infectious laughter are truly missed. Talking to him always added a bit of sunshine to even the dreariest Seattle day. Our deepest condolence goes out to Bobby and family.
Michael & Darcia Saeger"

This tribute was added by Jan Peterson on 16th April 2014

"What a nice tribute to a truly outstanding man. Lyle really lived his principles, and had a long and meaningful life."

This tribute was added by Fran Gallo on 16th April 2014

"I met Lyle through Simone and Don.  I will never forget meeting him and am ever so moved by how he lived his life!  I read Lyle's autobiographic obituary in the Seattle Times and I am left wondering, how I, too, can live my life with such integrity and meaning as he did!  I am inspired by the life he led! I now understand what it means to live by one's ideals and what it is to stand for Peace and Freedom!  The world is truly a better place because Lyle Mercer lived!  With much love for Lyle and his dear family,  Fran Gallo"

This tribute was added by rick rice on 15th April 2014

"What a wonderful history - it was a pleasure and honor to have been on his side on many occasions - only the best fights and marches!"

This tribute was added by kevin Hilbiber on 15th April 2014

"Lyle- your contributions were solid; Your stone in the pond still ripples outwards.  The best intentioned pablum in the comment about you getting resurrected, is not for you. That was likely a hospice employee.

As Dr. King noted- "Free at last, free at last, thank god almighty he's free at last:.  

Thanks for everything, Lyle.  Onward.  That's as religious as i'll get."

This tribute was added by Don Bothell on 13th April 2014

"It has been my good fortune to have Lyle as my father-in-law these past twenty-three years. He's one of the most caring, generous, empathetic persons I have ever met. His life made it clear, he felt living carried with it a strong responsibility to make the world a better place; to be informed and be vigilant defending the values you understand. That the trials you withstand temper and foster your spirit. In the end your actions define what you are. To live such a meaningful life and to  do it with such zest, so fun lovingly, and with such a well-rounded completeness — what a wonderful inspiration and example for us all.
I feel blessed to have been able to tell him on one of his last days, "I love you. You are one of my heroes.""

This tribute was added by Bryan Olsen on 13th April 2014

"Boy, they do not make them like they used to! The hand-full of times I was privileged to meet Lyle Mercer, he treated me with kindness and warmth. Through his daughter Simone, Lyle indirectly introduced me to mushroom foraging, a fall passion for 10 years now. He was a man of wit and spark and acted his whole life based on the highest ideals. The world is undoubtedly a better place for Lyle's ceaseless and conscientious work but it is certainly a duller place for his absence.

Bryan Olsen, Britt Stromberg and Ava Olsen raise our glasses high in Lyle's honor! Cheers"

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