Macy Elaine (Elkins) Morse
Date of birth - January 25, 1921
Date of death - July 18, 2019
Peace activist from Molalla has her last dance When Molalla's Macy Morse wasn't fighting for peace, she liked to dance and make music.
Macy (Elkins) Morse was born in Molalla, which is where she developed her sense of helping others, something she carried on throughout her life. When Macy Morse wasn't fighting for peace, she liked to dance and make music. She learned the Charleston at age 5, played the piano for the Molalla Methodist church services at age 9, and practiced Martha Graham style modern dance in college.
At 73, Macy danced on top of a picnic table in Russia to celebrate a peace organization she launched at the request of Greenpeace. "How do you have any fun if you don't dance?" she frequently asked.
Macy (Elkins) Morse died July 18 in Hudson, NH, in the home of one of her children. She was 98 and left a legacy of more than 60 years of political activism, including at least 10 arrests and four jail stints for acts of nonviolent civil disobedience. She also left a blood legacy as mother of 13 children, 27 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.
She was born in Molalla, Oregon in 1921. Her mother, Nina, taught school and her father worked at Dicken's, a general store. They also had a small farm and were known for being generous with their food during the Depression.
Taking unpopular stands may have run in the family. Luther Elkins, Macy's great-great-grandfather – who came as a pioneer from Maine to Oregon territory in the 1840s -- helped write the state's constitution and was the first president of Oregon's senate. He cast the deciding vote in 1861 on the question of secession (he voted to stay with the Union); quickly followed by his effigy being burned – and hung.
Macy attended Oregon College of Education and then moved to Portland where she worked for the telephone company.
She liked to tell the story of meeting her future husband one afternoon in 1943 when she returned to her apartment from a Catholic catechism class (Macy decided to become a "Cath," at least in part because the priest was so "cute.")
She slipped off her shoes and took a running slide into the living room, proclaiming with a wave of her arms: "I know what a saint is!" And there sat an attractive stranger, Paul Morse, a Navy friend of her cousin Roger. "We only knew each other five weeks when we decided to get married," said Macy. "But I was worried the priest would think that wasn't long enough so I said six weeks when he asked."
Paul, Macy and their first seven kids moved in 1953 to Nashua, NH, Morse's hometown. He worked (deleted , on and off) for the railroad and Macy threw herself into Democratic Party politics, starting with John Kennedy's presidential campaign. She helped deliver Nashua's traditionally Republican third ward for John King, the first Democrat elected governor since the 1920s. And she worked her heart out for Eugene McCarthy in 1968.
She was a delegate to the Democratic Convention in Chicago that summer. But Macy was disillusioned with the party's support of the Vietnam War and soon turned to direct protest, a path of activism that would shape the rest of her life.
Her husband died suddenly in 1971 at age 50. Nine months later, Macy, inspired by a photo of the Alps on an oil company calendar, rented her house and, with five of her children, age 9 to 16, headed to Europe, settling into Crete, Greece. They returned to Nashua nine months later.
Macy worked for the local Learning Center and food co-op. When a work colleague was unable to accept a Fullbright scholarship for a trip to India, Macy went in her place, a trip that, among other things, introduced her to Mother Teresa and yoga.
Her political interests also led her to Nicaragua, Guatemala, England and, in 1991, Moscow where she attended a Greenpeace conference on nuclear navies. By then she lived in Portsmouth, and, at Greenpeace's request, formed The Portsmouth- Severodvinsk Connection. Both cities depended economically on nuclear submarine yards.
Student and adult exchanges followed.
Over the years Macy was arrested in Washington DC for spray-painting the Pentagon and pouring blood on Gen. Alexander Haig's office carpet; in Massachusetts for vandalizing weapons at an AVCO plant; in Connecticut for protesting a nuclear submarine; and in New Hampshire several times for protesting construction of the Seabrook nuke, as well as sitting in at a senator's office in protest of the Iraq War. She was friends with Pete Seeger, Daniel Ellsberg and, especially, the Berrigan brothers.
Macy organized a group to keep track of nuclear waste leaving the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. She attended weekly peace vigils and organized the New Hampshire Women's Peace Network, as well as annual memorials to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And she kept practicing yoga, dancing and playing the piano.
Although her children say she never pushed them to be politically active, she said she hoped she served as a model. Maybe she did. Once, while handing out leaflets to a disarmament rally, her 10-year-old granddaughter, Amy, quietly said: "When you die, grandma, I'll take over."
MACY E. MORSE July 18, 2019
Macy (Elkins) Morse, longtime resident of Nashua and Portsmouth, NH died Thursday, July 18th at the home of one of her 13 children. Macy has often been described as a force of nature and even though she had thirteen children of her own, many others saw her as a mother figure and sought her out for advice in difficult times. Macy was born on January 25, 1921, in Molalla, Oregon. She is the daughter of Bob and Nina (Dunton) Elkins and was raised on the family farm in Molalla. Macy graduated from Monmouth College and in 1944 married Paul H. Morse (1920-1971). They and their seven children travelled by car to Paul’s hometown of Nashua in 1953 where they raised eleven sons and two daughters.
In 1960 Macy was bitten by the political bug and worked to help elect JFK in 1960. She subsequently worked on various local, state and national campaigns. Governor John King, Senator Thomas McIntyre, congressional candidate Chuck Officer and presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy were a few of the campaigns which Macy worked. After the start of the Vietnam War, Macy became a political activist. With her three oldest sons in the military, one serving in Vietnam, Macy decided that this war was not just and eventually came to realize that no war is just. Over the years Macy has worked for peace and an end to nuclear proliferation doing such things as splashing blood in Alexander Haig’s office destroying equipment in the Wilmington-MA-based AVCO offices and most recently in 2003, “trespassing” in Judd Gregg’s office. She served jail time for all of these actions.
Macy was only 5’2” but she packed a lot of love and strength into that small frame. Macy’s children and spouses are Michael and Joan Morse, Paul Morse and Linda Edelstein, Rod Morse (deceased), Suzanne and William Hodge, Greg Morse, Loren and Dina Morse, Bill (deceased) and Celeste Morse, John Morse, Bobby and Linda Morse, Nina Morse, Peter Morse and Carol Hollis, Jim and Sara Morse and Matt and Lisa Morse. Macy also has 27 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren; also several nieces and nephews.
Calling hours will be held at the FARWELL FUNERAL HOME, 18 Lock Street, Nashua, NH, Tuesday, July 23rd from 4-7 p.m. A celebration of life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to AFSC-NH, Beyond Nuclear, VNA-Manchester. Arrangements are in the care of the FARWELL FUNERAL SERVICE. (603) 882-0591. www.farwellfuneralservice.com
Macy (Elkins) Morse, January 25, 1921 - July 18, 2019
PORTSMOUTH, MH-- The state lost a powerful voice of the people this week with the death of former Portsmouth resident Macy Morse. She was 98.
Political activism and civil disobedience are the words that come to mind when thinking about Morse. She was so much more than that. She was a wife, a mother of 13, a grandmother, a great grandmother and a loyal friend to many.
“She was loving and very bright,” said her son Pat. “She had a lot of strength. We grew up pretty poor and she was pretty creative in making sure we got by. She was a great piano player and we would all have sing-a-longs. She instilled her values in us and made sure we kept learning.”
Morse founded the New Hampshire Women’s Peace Network in 1983 and the Seacoast Peace Response in 2001. She actively opposed the Vietnam War, AVCO (a manufacturer of nuclear weapons) the Iraq War, and nuclear power. Her passion led her to many places, including several stints in jail. For acts of civil disobedience, Morse was arrested in 1976 with other members of the Clamshell Alliance when they protested the nuclear power plant in Seabrook, at the Pentagon in 1980, and in 1983 with the AVCO “Plowshares” group. None of that stopped her and she kept standing for what she believed in up to her last breath.
She served as a U.S. delegate to the Greenpeace Conference on Nuclear Free Seas. Morse received the 2005 Peace Award from Seacoast Peace Response and in 2006, she was listed as one of the state’s “Women of Distinction” By New Hampshire magazine.
Macy Morse was born on Jan. 25, 1921 in Molalla, Oregon. She passed away at the home of one of her 13 children on Thursday, July 18. In between that time, she did a lot of living.
In a tribute to her in 2017 at South Church, a friend, Cathy Wolff talked about when Morse was asked to be a delegate to an international conference from Greenpeace. “I decided,” Morse told her years later, “that I was too old not to go.”
Suzanne Morse, one of Macy’s 13 children said her mom began her civic involvement working for political candidates. She said it was the Vietnam War that made her flip the switch to political activism.
“It was the time of John Fitzgerald Kennedy that she had her first foray into politics,” said Suzanne. “Then when her son Pat was sent to Vietnam, and while she had other sons serving in the military, she switched sides, working against war and later against nuclear weapons. She once got arrested for going to then Secretary of Defense Al Haig’s office and spilling blood (her own) onto his carpet.”
Morse helped with Nashua Mayor Royal Dionne’s campaign and those of U.S. Senator Tom McIntyre. Right up to recent days, Morse continued her work, protesting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“She worked with Eugene McCarthy,” said Suzanne. “Paul Newman once bummed a cigarette off of her at a rally in Nashua.”
“She was very civic minded,” said Suzanne. “When my brother Michael wanted to get his driver’s license, she refused to sign the paperwork for him until he went down and registered for the draft. She did her research when the Vietnam War came and decided it was not a good war. Eventually she decided all wars were not good wars. but it was Vietnam that got her activism going.”
There is a story about Morse, that when her beloved son Pat was sent to Vietnam, that she vowed to get him out and home. Suzanne said she appealed to the government with no success and then took it upon herself.
“She hooked up with a bishop here who introduced her to a bishop in Vietnam,” said Suzanne. “She was prepared to go get him, and he was sent home.”
Pat Morse, the son in question, said he loves the “legend” but that is not exactly what happened. “I know she was working on it, but I was only scheduled to be there for six months and the time was up,” said Pat. “I was Air Force, there to to work on the construction and repair of communications equipment.” Pat said the longer he was in Vietnam, with the freedom to travel the country for his work, the more he agreed with his mom.
“I guess I went in with a bit of a patriotic bend,” said Pat. “My dad and my grandfather both served in the military. While I was there, my mother and my siblings were taking part in anti-war demonstrations. My wife Linda got involved. What my experiences showed me was that the military presented any people we were at war with as less than human, so they would be easier to kill. I saw the richest companies were gleaning from war. I came over to mom’s side but could not really speak out while I was in.”
Calling hours for Macy Morse will be from 4 -7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 23, at Farwell Funeral Home, 18 Lock Street, Nashua. In lieu of flowers, donations to the following non-profits can be made: AFSC-NH, Beyond Nuclear and the VNA-Manchester.