Northampton resident and lifelong activist Rose ‘Arky’ Markham dies at 102

Some sad community and activism news — longtime political activist Rose “Arky” Markham passed away earlier this week. Sad in that she passed away, but among the things she has left behind are the results of a life well-spent, as can be seen in her obituary.

I got the chance to interview Markham and attend her 100th birthday celebration, a packed house full of change-makers, activists and political figures alike.

I didn’t know her well and mostly learned about her through the praise others bestowed upon her and an interview at her home a few days before her 100th birthday.

Rose “Arky” Markem a few days before her 100th birthday celebration in 2015. Dave Eisenstadter photo

One thing that stood out at her party came from someone else who passed away recently — Peter Kocot. He stood up and said that at people often ask themselves at a certain point in life whether they had been productive in life and had handled themselves well in crisis situations. He told Markham she could answer a resounding “yes.”

“Quite honestly you have been our compass,” adding that she pointed them the “right way.”

“The LEFT way!” Markham corrected.

Markham stood up to protest both Iraq wars as well as the war in Afghanistan. Long before that, she contributed to the World War II effort by becoming an air traffic controller, something she did because she was passionate about stopping Hitler.

Her legacy of activism continues to go on through the Markham-Nathan Fund for Social Justice, a foundation she co-founded with Marty Nathan. Those close to Markham are asking that people send donations to the organization in lieu of flowers.

There will be an impromptu gathering for friends, family, and community at the Lathrop Community Meeting House, Shallowbrook Drive, Northampton, tonight, Thursday, June 14, from 7 to 9 pm. Organizers request those who attend bring some food and memories of Arky to share.

Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at deisen@valleyadvocate.com.

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