In Memorial

Hisham Ahmed Ph.D. 1963-2019

It was with heavy hearts that we learned that Professor Hisham Ahmed, who had overcome so many obstacles in his life, lost his valiant battle with colon cancer on July 7th, 2019. Born blind in a tent, in Deheisheh Refugee Camp, Bethlehem, in 1963, Hisham’s meticulous scholarship, generous courtesy, undaunted courage, and delightful sense of humor charmed students, and colleagues alike, and won him many friends and admirers where ever he went. Educated in the West Bank, Palestine, Hisham earned his BA degree in political science from Illinois State University and his MA and Ph.D. at UC Santa Barbara. He taught at Florida International University and the University of North Dakota, was a Fulbright Scholar in Palestine, published his book, From Religious Salvation to Political Transformation: The Rise of Hamas in Palestinian Society, was a Fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs and taught at Bir Zeit University and other universities and colleges in Palestine.

In 2006 Dr. Ahmed arrived at St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, where he was professor of politics. At St. Mary’s he also chaired the Politics Department and the Academic Senate. Always generous with his knowledge, experience, and time, Professor Ahmed authored many studies and articles, frequently granting local and international interviews and analyses focusing on the Middle East and Palestine. Hisham was active in professional organizations, and served as Vice-President of Arab-American University Graduates AAUG. He also served on the board of the Mount Diablo Peace and Justice Center. Locally, he honored Ecumenical Peace Institute (EPI-CALC) and Friends of Sabeel North America with illuminating lectures focusing on Palestine and advocating for human rights for Palestinians. - Vivian Zelaya

MDPJC has lost a wonderful friend and former board member, Professor Hisham Ahmed. Hisham passed away on Sunday evening July 7 at age 56 after a hard battle with colon cancer. He is survived by his wife Amneh and school age children Ahmed and Noor. - Rick Sterling

There is much more to share, but I’d like to end with how well loved Hisham was, and how much he loved in return. His eyes lit up whenever he spoke of Amneh, Noor, and Ahmed, truly the light of his life. His love for his friends was also abundantly evident, in particular his dear friend Patrizia Longo, and there are many more of us who felt his love and loved him back. Rest in peace and power dear Hisham, you will always be in our hearts. Suzi Weissman, Professor of Politics, Saint Mary’s College of California, Moraga, CA”

[Vivian Zelaya's Eulogy](

MDPJC Board Chair Rick Sterling and the address made by Hisham’s colleague, Prof. Suzi Weissman, at his memorial

Andy Baltzo

Andy Baltzo, a Pleasant Hill resident and local peace activist who founded the peace center in 1969, died May 25. He was 89.

Thirty years ago, Andy Baltzo quit his job as a chemistry teacher at a Pleasant Hill middle school to pursue this crazy dream -- peace on Earth, an end to the Vietnam War and the abolishment of nuclear weapons.

He was 48 in 1969, not exactly your typical Bay Area hippie still recovering from the Summer of Love. But Baltzo was as anti-establishment as they came. He left that decent- paying teaching job to go door- to-door soliciting donations for the Mount Diablo Peace Center, a group he and friends were forming to, put simply, "Try to avoid the end of the human species from nuclear war."

The Peace Center was founded by local teacher & activist, Andy Baltzo. Andy’s vision was to create a "local voice for peace" in the area. Throughout the years, the Center has evolved to address the prevention of violence and promotion of social justice in the local community.

No matter how small the donation, Andy Baltzo always wrote a note of thanks to those who supported the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center. He always wrote it by hand, with a first draft in pencil, and he underlined the word “thanks.”

“Every single letter was so genuine,” said former Walnut Creek center director Charles Goodmacher of his friend Baltzo, who died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. “Those little notes were the perfect expressions of him. In the end, it may not have been good time-management, but it was very effective. I came to understand that people wanted that contact.”

Baltzo, a Pleasant Hill resident and local peace activist who founded the peace center in 1969, died May 25. He was 89. Born in Berkeley and raised in Oakland, Baltzo left teaching chemistry in Pleasant Hill to start the peace center because he wanted the building and use of nuclear weapons to stop. A medical lab technician in the Army for four years, Baltzo embraced the peace movement and started his fight against nuclear weapons when Hiroshima was bombed in 1945.

Though he didn’t live to see the end of nuclear weapon production, he took joy in the fight to rid the world of such weapons, said Goodmacher.

Walnut Creek peace center founder Baltzo dies at 89

Ur-Peacenik Takes Stock After 30 Years

Andy Baltzo, ¡Presente!

Bill Callison

Bill Callison Oct. 22, 1941 - Dec. 11, 2008 Bill attended Central Kitsap High School where he was the Student Body President in 1959. He earned a National Merit Scholarship to attend Stanford University, graduating in 1963 with a degree in Political Science. He received a Master's degree in Far East Studies from UC Berkeley in 1965. Bill lived in the SF Bay Area for most of his adult life. He was active in the Peace and Freedom Party and ran for U.S. Congress for the 7th District in the November 2008 election. Bill had many interests. He was very active in the peace movement and was a tireless advocate for working people's rights.

Bill Callison's earlier history includes a successful Supreme Court case in which he was recognized as a conscientious objector to military service despite not being a member of an organized religion, and working as founding editor (1967) of The Bond, the first anti-war newspaper for soldiers.

Bill Callison Obituary

Bill Callison Obituary

PFP- Bill's Biography

Friends of Hanging Victim Allege He Was Lynched


Timonthy Lee

Timothy Lee UNK - Nov 2, 1985 The most grisly event occurred last Nov. 2, in a vacant lot near one of the new office towers adjoining the BART station. On that mud-caked piece of land, an off-duty security guard found the body of a young black man hanging from the branch of an old fig tree.

Police ruled the man’s death a suicide. But local black leaders and some white residents are convinced that 23-year-old Timothy Charles Lee was lynched--perhaps by a splinter of the Ku Klux Klan.

NAACP got FBI to investigate. Lee’s death came not 12 hours after a pair of white-robed white men knifed two black teen-agers a few blocks away--has touched off an ugly controversy in what was recently lauded as one of the least stressful cities in the nation.

The suspects in the Nov. 2 stabbings that preceded Lee’s death contend that their white robes, with accurate Klan markings, were merely costumes worn to a Halloween party. The existence of such a party has not been established.

Lee had left his San Francisco job that day happy and hopeful, friends and co-workers said. He worked part time in a fabric design store while taking classes at the San Francisco Academy of Art; he had recently won a grant to study fashion design in Italy.

Friends speculate that after leaving work, Lee visited several bars in town, a position supported by the .13% level of alcohol later found in his blood. (A level of .10% is the legal criterion for drunk driving.) After socializing for several hours, Lee boarded a BART train for the 15-mile ride home to Berkeley. On the train, however, he fell asleep and missed his stop. He did not awaken until 1 a.m., when the train reached the end of the line, 25 miles down the track in Concord. He then discovered that he had missed the final train of the night back to Berkeley. He was stranded. Lee relayed this story to several friends he called in a fruitless attempt to find someone with a car who could pick him up. It was the last time any of them would hear from him.

The coroner’s report concluded that Lee died between 6 and 8 a.m. that morning by hanging himself with a black nylon web strap from a rucksack he was carrying. His jacket was tucked neatly into a crook of the tree, according to a police report. His wallet was found 36 feet away. The rucksack rested at the base of the tree. Nearby was an envelope on which was scrawled a apparent suicide note, However note misspelled his own and his friends names.

William Callison, a white man who told police he received an anonymous threatening telephone call after he went to the FBI and challenged the coroner’s conclusion that Lee had committed suicide.

Racial Friction in Concord : Lynching or Suicide? A City Is Gripped by Tension

Guillermo Muniz

Guillermo “Bill” Muniz, longtime owner of the New Mecca Cafe in downtown Pittsburg and a fixture on this city’s civic and sports scenes since the 1960s, died Thursday after a long illness.

Muniz, 88, had operated the popular Mexican restaurant for decades, and had long been known for his efforts to support school and youth sports programs. In April 2011, Muniz was honored at a city-sponsored event for his contributions to Pittsburg and East Contra Costa. “He was Pittsburg’s ambassador; he spread goodwill about the city, goodwill about clean living,” said Paul Flores, a former city recreation director who had known him for decades. “He never said ‘no’ to anything, never had a bad word about anyone or anything.”

2017-11-24 Pittsburg restaurateur, civic fixture Guillermo Muniz dies

Abraham & Jean Zwickel

On Friday, August 26, 2005, on or around 4:20 in the morning, in Antioch, California, my mother, Jean Cameron Wiley Zwickel joined her beloved Abe on that Final Adventure. Jean wrote a book on the voices of Puerto Rico Independence movement "Voices for Independence".

My father and mother, Abraham and Jean Zwickel brought their ideals, including pacifism, to their relationship when they met in 1943. My mother was living in an interracial, pacifist Christian commune in New York City called the Harlem Ashram. My father Abe, who already knew the founder of the Ashram, Jay Holmes Smith, had heard that they were planning a walk from New York to Washington to protest the Jim Crow laws which legalized segregation. Living in Baltimore at the time, he joined them en route and there the two met.

Father was that great rarity – both a conscientious objector and a Jew, at the time of WWII besides! Mother, from a Unitarian family and strongly influenced by the New York City Unitarian minister, John Haynes Holmes, held a similar pacifist philosophy and had in fact lost a teaching job for refusing to aid in enlisting young men in the military to fight the Germans. Father worked in a Quaker fire-fighting camp and ultimately served in prison for refusing to cooperate with the military. That was but the first of a lifelong series of arrests in the cause of peace and social justice. Read more

Abuela Jean

Voices for Independence/Voces pro Independencia

Abraham and Jean - In Celebration of their Life & Times