MONTPELIER -- On a tree-lined riverbank a mile west of Vermont's Statehouse, about 300 people gathered in an arc around a marble dove at the city's Peace Park to remember David Dellinger.
"We memorialize people for war so often," Lucy Nichol, one of the Peace Park's creators, said just before Saturday's memorial got under way. "It seems it's time we memorialized someone who worked for peace."
Her comments came at the end of a week in which Vermont buried two National Guard members killed in Iraq. Sergeant Kevin Sheehan, 36, and Specialist Alan Bean Jr., 22, were killed on May 25, the same day the state's best-known peace activist succumbed at 88 to pneumonia-induced heart failure at a Montpelier assisted-living center.
Under bright blue skies and a beaming sun, those who gathered Saturday talked of an extraordinary man, a nonviolent "tough guy" with a piercing intellect, a merry wit, and an easily demonstrated love for his fellow human beings.
They came, in the words of the Rev. Mitchell Hay, "to witness the life of a man who lived [God's] calling the way few of us do."
Mr. Dellinger's advocacy of peace and justice began in the 1930s when he was arrested while a student at Yale at a union organizing rally for university staff.
He served two terms in prison in World War II as a draft resister. He traveled the country for a time as a hobo, joined civil rights marchers in the South, led people's peace delegations to North Vietnam, and, in later years, opposed international trade agreements.
But he gained his greatest fame and notoriety as a member of the "Chicago Seven," antiwar activists charged with inciting riots outside the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. The defendants' convictions were overturned on appeal and a special investigative commission later determined that the riots were caused by the police.
Family and friends who spoke Saturday said Mr. Dellinger's public and private lives were one.
His son Patchen said that "every one of his [five] children was sung to sleep with `Joe Hill,' " a ballad to an early labor leader who was executed by the state of Utah in 1915 in what many labor activists still see as a grave injustice.
"I remember walking with him from New Haven to New York to ban the bomb when I was in the seventh grade," said Patchen Dellinger, who lives in Seattle.
His father practiced nonviolence in disciplining his children, Mr. Dellinger's son said.
"His children have been quoted as saying `Stop talking and hit me!' " he said to laughter from his audience.
His father had moderate vices, Dellinger recalled. "He didn't have much in common with [former British leader] Winston Churchill. But he admired him for always having a cigar and a glass of cognac."
Filmmaker Jay Craven of Peacham, a longtime friend of Mr. Dellinger, described the activist as "friendly to his critics and critical of his friends."
Craven said he was once dispatched to Havana by Mr. Dellinger, "a friend of the Cuban revolution," and at first expected that as a friend of Dellinger, a well known critic of capitalism, that he would be well received.
But Craven said Mr. Dellinger gave him a letter to hand-deliver to top Cuban officials.
"The letter asked very hard questions and was very critical of the Cuban government's treatment of gay people," Craven recalled.
Just as the song's lyrics, "Joe Hill ain't never died/ Where working men are out on strike, Joe Hill is at their side," Patchen Dellinger and other speakers said Mr. Dellinger lives on in the continuing commitments of his movement survivors.
Joelen Mulvaney of Barre, another friend, said that "David's hand is active . . . in every foot marching toward freedom."