Marge Rusk !Presente!* (1928 – 2018)

From the November/December 2018 PNL #863

by Ed Kinane and Ann Tiffany


Marge at Plowshares
Marge at her crafts table at Plowshares, with her herbs and
catnip Photo: SPC Archives



Not one to compartmentalize, Marge embodied the wisdom of “think global, act local.” A long-time Syracuse South Side community activist, her decades-long career also entailed environmental and local peace and justice work.


 Marge got involved with the Syracuse Peace Council in the 1950s. As one of the Peace Council’s most steadfast and enduring members, Marge served on SPC’s steering committee. Until her late eighties Marge was a weekly office volunteer. SPC old-timers may remember that for years she was a vendor at Plowshares Craftfair—offering her wreathes and homegrown dried mint for tea.


 From the Viet Nam War years on, Marge provided draft counseling at AFSC. She took part in numerous annual Hiroshima Day processions in Syracuse, as well as joining our School of the Americas Abolitionist carloads to demos in Washington, DC. Fluent in Spanish, Marge also took part in Witness for Peace delegations to Chiapas and Colombia (where she had lived as a young woman).


 One of us (Ed) recalls hitchhiking in the nineties with Marge over to Western Massachusetts. We were heading for Colraine, MA to take part in the campaign to support war tax resisters when the feds confiscated their rural home and auctioned it off. In that months-long nonviolent campaign there were many arrests and some jailings.


Marge was an avid birder. For years she helped coordinate the local Audubon Society’s annual bird count. On road trips all we had to do was mention one of the region’s various bird species and Marge would expertly regale us with that bird’s call. To provide habitat for these beloved creatures, Marge left her yard on West Calthrop Ave unmowed and wild. The city’s housing code inspectors weren’t happy. But Marge managed to stay out of sight when they came ringing her bell.


Marge is survived by her son Chris Spies-Rusk (an SPC volunteer who as a youth often accompanied his mom to demonstrations) and grandson, Ben.



Marge at the 2009 Hiroshima Day Procession,
in which she partipated for many years.
Photo: Mike Greenlar_



Ed Kinane and Ann Tiffany are long-time friends of Marge.


*“!Presente!” is Latin American Spanish indicating the spirit of the deceased remains alive among us.