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Tribute to Barbara Hanst, Colorado Palestinian Human Rights Activist Who Just Died by Jane Thomas

March 19, 2022

Jane Thomas and Barbara Hanst

Mote: The passing of a Colorado peace activist, who worked for Palestinian human rights and against all forms of racism and bigotry. RJP)

Barbara Hanst, the person I was so privileged to call a friend, died yesterday morning.  She had been diagnosed with breast cancer last May, and then later diagnosed with lung cancer, for which she endured rounds of chemo and immunotherapy.  In December 2021, during a break in treatment, she was well enough to go with me to David Skaggs’ farm to walk the Advent maze designed by members of First Congregational Church.  Though tired, she was her usual animated, present self, full of concern about other people.  But by the beginning of 2022 she was in terrible pain.  At first doctors thought it might be her heart, so she was admitted to the hospital and tested.  Her heart was deemed in good shape.  But there was still the pain.  Then she was diagnosed with COVID, and her oxygen levels plummeted.  She was brought back to Frasier Meadows and put on hospice care just a few days ago.  Her son Jonathan lives in Lafayette and visited regularly, and her daughter flew in from Maui and was able to stay with her until the end.  Memorial services are planned for Boulder, Maryland, and Hawaii.

Barbara is the reason we exist as a Small Group at First Congregational Church.  Her passion for Palestine was well-known, but she also was active in human rights in general, for voting rights, and for social justice anywhere.  Her passion was as steadfast as her faith.  She was kind, compassionate, and funny, enthusiastic in her communication (using LOTS of capital letters in her emails!) and not afraid to speak truth to power or speak up generally.  She made friends wherever she went and kept those friendships going for years.  She was the kind of person I aspire to be, and I miss her so much.
I think she would have been very pleased to know that through her efforts, our small group has been able to join other groups working for human rights for Palestinians in the state of Colorado, and that a coalition has been formed with civic, religious, and non-religious groups to amplify our voices: Colorado Coalition for Human Rights for Palestine.  I told her once that she is a “weaver” because she brings people together.  Let us continue her work.
Rest in peace, Barbara
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