Sunday, September 25, 2011
Dallas activist Roger Kallenberg died on Sunday
Longtime peace activist protested against nukes and for saving a 100-year-old elm tree.
Roger Kallenberg, a well known advocate in Dallas for peace, died early Sunday after a struggle with a bone marrow disease called MDS. Born on September 15, 1944, he was 67.
Kallenberg, who was a volunteer for the Dallas Peace Center, had a lifelong history of advocacy for peace and justice, dating back to the 1970's anti-nuke group in Dallas called the Armadillo Coalition. He'd written stories for Dallas Peace Times, including one piece published on Pegasus News about the number of businesses in Dallas with defense industry ties.
Hadi Jawad, who's worked for the Dallas Peace Center for 10 years, called Kallenberg a "good old lefty."
"I met Roger when I first came to the Peace Center in the mid '90s, and I was happy to meet somebody of his caliber -- a highly educated, sophisticated, dedicated, passionate man who was willing to take a lot of risks," Jawad said. "He was a solid activist and a dedicated person, but also known for his utter decency and sweetness."
"He was the first person of the Jewish faith I met in this area who was vocally supportive of the rights of the Palestinian people for human rights and dignity and freedom," Jawad said. "It takes a lot of courage to go against the grain, especially when it's the community you have been raised in, and he received a lot of flak from his community for his views."
Jawad said that Kallenberg will definitely be missed. "People like Roger are hard to find," he said. "Our hope as we gather will be to find what we can do to carry on his work."
Kallenberg's activism covered a broad range of activities, said Amy Martin, who worked with him on the recent actions to commemorate a pair of 100-year-old elm trees that were cut down by the city of Dallas in June.
"The city was in a hurry to cut down the trees and grind the stumps for that Lake Centennial party -- these were trees that had survived Dutch elm disease," Martin said. "Roger was the one who negotiated the reprieve for the tree. He got a week-long reprieve so that we were able to do a service that acknowledged the tree and gave it a bit of respect before the city cut it down."
Martin called him "her favorite radical."
"He was a dear and thoughtful guy who cared so deeply about things, yet never lost his sense of humor," she said. "He very much embodied the spirit of an East Dallasite. He loved his dogs, he loved walking his dogs, and keeping an eye on things wherever he walked his dogs. He had this thing about bringing sticks back, they'd find sticks on their walks and bring them back and stick them on a fence, and they had a giant stick collection of all the sticks he brought back."
Mavis Belisle, with whom Kallenberg lived since 2008, said that he was one of those rare individuals who really made a difference.
"Several organizations in this city will feel a hole -- from the Dallas Peace Center to the neighborhood groups to the Bath House group," she said. "He really was involved in a lot of things."
She said that Kallenberg was diagnosed with MDS -- myelodysplastic syndromes -- in 2009, but held off on doing chemotherapy for another year, and finally did it only after encouragement from friends and family.
"He had good success in keeping it in check for a little over a year," she said.
In addition to Belisle, he's survived by two sisters, Annie and Beth, and two daughters, Lisa and Karma.
There'll be a memorial at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Bath House Cultural Center.