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To my friend, Jack Galvin as he lays dying in Vermont

July 7, 2007

Jack Galvin…

The chemo killed the brain cancer but it also savaged your immune system. Scott K tells me it is unlikely you’ll make it through the night. If I could, but I can’t, I’d write a song or a poem in your honor, one that does justice to your humane spirit about to be extinguished, your talent as an organizer, your ability to see through so much bullshit that permeates the left, then and now, and get to the core of things, your humanity.

And you’re not even from New York and still you seem to have that same kind of `built in shit detector’? Impressive. How could you see so clearly? much more so than me. And together, we made music …politically and on that indescribeable level of solidarity that people rarely achieve. companero. a little bit of me dies with you for you are a part of me, even so far away, even if you and patty left denver 20 or so years ago. It matters little as we both branded each other’s souls with our spirits – you me, me you…we weren’t `co-dependent’ – just a team.

In the late 1960s, Jack Galvin along with a dozen others, marched into the Colorado legislature and `sat in’ to protest the war in Vietnam. Among them was our mutual old friend Roberto Trujillo, chair of the Colorado Communist Party (CPUSA), even then a little thing, shadow of what had been a significant social movement in the state years earlier. Jack was studying to be a priest, Patty Seal – his life long soul partner – was studying to be a nun. In love, he quit the priesthood, she the nunnery and they began a love affair and mutual commitment to each other that will defy time, forged in love, passion and a life time commitment to one another that weathered everything imaginable.

In a world where things fall apart, it endured. They lived in the `Race Street’ Commune – one of the three or four political communes in Denver in those days, a home that brought together a variety of extraordinarily talented organizers for left and peace movements here in Denver in the decades that followed. Beyond that, it was such a fun place to be. `Good vibes’ as we use to say, even if like other left collectives it exploded into a thousand tiny pieces because no one could agree about who would do the dishes or some such issue, with its members going hither and yon. Matters little…for one shining the schmaltzy songs goes..there was magic. A wooden `radiator cover’ , my `inheritance’ from Scott Keating, who also lives there, sits in my basement as a kind of coffee table. A constant reminder

The morning that our (Nancy and my) first daughter, Molly was born now 30 years ago, one of the most joyous days of my life (the other being when our second daughter Abbie came along five years later), I went to see Jack and Patty. The birth had taken most of the night, in the morning after Molly was safe and sound in the world and Nancy resting, I left Rose Memorial Hospital and went to share my joy with friends if only for an hour. It wasn’t necessary to say much and I don’t believe I did. Just wanted to share the moment with them, no one else. We did talk a little, about the pros and cons of having children. I don’t remember what I said, only how extraordinary it was to see a daughter emerge and come into the world.

Jack had a particular sensitivity to and organizing potential for any issue invovling racial discrimination. There are alot of white people who in their heart and soul oppose racism but don’t quite know how to work with people of color. That has always been something more difficult. Jack – along with my old friend Dick Ayre – were among the best I knew. The biggest event we ever organized together was after the Allende Government in Chile was overthrown with the connivance of that skunk Kissinger, now 34 years ago. I don’t remember much but I do recall we worked with Loretto Sister Pat McCormick, life long friend to us both and that 500 people came out to mourn the snuffing out of one of the more interesting and promising social experiments of the 20th Century. He also was a mainstay of the Radical Information Project bookstore on 17th Ave in NE Denver, one of the few enduring left institutions (although it no longer exists). He knew the score on the Middle East, understood the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in both its simplicity and complexity and always supported my work.

Why write about him? Because people should know his name. Those who inherit the earth, his son…all our sons and daughters should know that without him, the world would even be worse off than it was and that they too, if underneath it all, care about humanity and if they are really lucky and talented, can give to the world what Jack Galvin has. Good bye my friend. Your spirit will live on among us and your memory and contribution will give us strength for the struggles to come

With all my love. Rob Prince

One Comment leave one →
  1. Thomas M. Rauch permalink
    August 25, 2012 3:46 pm

    Hi, Rob. Thanks for your heartfelt tribute to Jack Galvin and your concise and accurate account of his life-long struggle, together with Patty, for human dignity and freedom, justice and peace. I met them in the late 1960’s when I was teaching at Regis College as a Jesuit priest. I’m sure we were together at some rallies and marches during those years and also later in the seventies when I came back to Denver after leaving the Jesuits to work for Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam. I remember Patty and Jack as friendly, committed and caring persons. May we all deserve half the tribute you paid Jack when we come to the end of our journey. My greetings and sympathy to Patty and all other family members and friends. Tom Rauch August 25, 2012

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