EXPIRED: 07/23/10 – Dorothy Stowe, 89, was born a Rabinowitz, and married a Strasmich, but changed her name to Stowe in honor of Harriet Beecher Stowe the famed women’s rights advocate. She also followed in Harriet’s footsteps inspiring generations of social justice and peace advocates as the co-founder of Greenpeace.
Born and raised in Rhode Island, Stowe served as a purchasing officer for the Navy during World War II, and later, as a union president of her local chapter of State, County Employees, she threatened a strike. It was the McCarthy era, so naturally she was called her a communist. She didn’t mind. She got everyone a 33% pay hike.
When she married her husband Irving in 1953 they attended a banquet for NAACP instead of having a reception dinner. It was a prior commitment.
The Stowe’s started campaigning against nuclear weapons in the 1950s, when they learned that radioactive contamination was appearing in mothers’ milk. In 1961, as the Vietnam War heated up, the Stowes left the United States for New Zealand. When New Zealand sent troops to Vietnam in 1965, they moved to Canada and got involved heavily in environmental groups like the Sierra Club, the World Peace Council, and the British Columbia Environmental Coalition.
In 1968, they learned that the US were testing nukes on Amchitka Island in the Aleutians. The fear of a tsunami caused by the blasts inspired a new protest: Don’t Make a Wave Committee.
But Stowe did more. They sailed a local fishing boat to the testing site itself. The U.S. Coast Guard stopped it before it reached the Island, and arrested all on board, but the protest voyage was newsworthy enough that within months the U.S. ended the nuclear tests.
The boat was called the “Phyllis Cormack.” They later renamed it “Greenpeace.” Months later, the entire organization that Stowe ran was called Greenpeace. Today, it has offices in over 40 countries including China and India, and Africa.