by Florence Steichen, Pax Christi Minnesota
Veterans, peace-makers and workers for justice, people of Guatemala and Palestine, and countless others lost a dear friend and faithful supporter when Nick Eoloff, 84, died May 24 in St. Paul.
Nick Eoloff was a veteran of the U.S. Navy Reserves.
Nick married Mary Lou Bunting December 26, 1955; they are the parents of six children, 14 grandchildren, and one great granddaughter.
Among their many works for peace, Nick and Mary adopted Mordechai Vanunu, in 1996 when Mordechai was serving an 18 year prison term in Israel for revealing the existence of Israel’s nuclear weapons program. They visited him in prison, corresponded with him, and enlisted friends to write to Mordechai. Mary and Nick last saw Mordechai in 2005, after his release from prison in 2004, and have remained in contact. Mary phoned when Nick died, and knew that Mordechai could not come to Nick’s funeral because his freedom of movement is severely restricted even though he finished his sentence 10 years ago.
Mary and Nick are featured in the 2003 BBC documentary, Israel’s Secret Weapon, which tells the story of Mordechai’s whistle-blowing, his subsequent kidnapping and imprisonment, and the Eoloffs’ efforts to support and free him.
As a team they supported and reinforced each other, pursuing numerous opportunities to promote nonviolence and advocate for Palestinian rights. They were active in the Twin Cities and USA chapters of Pax Christi, the international Catholic peace movement. They could usually find a way to incorporate concern for Palestinian rights into prayer services and programs.
Nick and Mary were instrumental in bringing Sabeel Conferences to the Twin Cities through Friends of Sabeel, North America (fosna.org). Sabeel is an ecumenical center in Jerusalem for Palestinian liberation (www.sabeel.org).
Nick was a founding member and long-time supporter of Deir Yassin Remembered, and was responsible for Mordechai joining the DYR Board of Advisers. Zionists forces ethnically cleansed Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948, by massacring/expelling the 750 Palestinian residents. This was the first of more than 500 villages to be destroyed in the establishment of Israel. Nick commissioned and dedicated a memorial to Deir Yassin, a bronze statue of an uprooted olive tree adjacent to the Midtown Greenway Bike Trail in South Minneapolis.
Nick was on the board and active in the Al-Aqsa Institute of Minnesota, a community service organization of Arab-American peoples, Muslim and Christian alike, that promotes and works for a positive, well-informed awareness of the Middle East focusing attention on Palestine, its history, its people, its culture and its reality. Its members seek to identify with oppressed peoples and to embrace victims of oppression, to resist discrimination, racism and the degradation of human life and rights, and to be an unrelenting instrument on behalf of human dignity. They, in particular, seek recognition and validation of the human narrative to vindicate the suffering of the Palestinian people to render them part of an inclusive human history. Its members believe that the time has come for Muslims, Christians and Jews to begin to dialogue, to pursue new avenues for peace with justice, and to discover the common denominator on which their shared humanity can act for peacemaking. The basis for such dialogue is in the belief that all are human beings have equal rights without one side dominating over the other. They honor all who stand for the poor, the dispossessed, the oppressed, the powerless, and all who witness courageously to a vision of political and social change in the cause of peace and justice in Palestine and Israel.
This description well describes Nick’s passion for justice. Rest in peace, Nick.
Below is Nick’s official obituary:
Age 84 ~ Of St. Paul Died May 24, 2014. Survived by his loving wife, Mary Louise (Bunting) Eoloff (married December 26, 1955); father of six children, 14 grandchildren and one great grandchild. They are daughter Kristin Kramer (Dan) of St. Paul, and grandchildren Laura (Victor), Katie, Megan and Natalie; son Nicholas Paul (Anita) of Washington, D.C., grandchildren Michael, Sara, Annie; son Eric of St. Louis, and grandchildren Neil, Allison and Jill; daughter Sara Hyland (Bob) of St. Paul, and grandchildren William, Grace and Ethan; daughter Andrea of St. Paul, and grandchild Elena; son Jonathan (Itai Himelboim) of Atlanta; and one great grandchild, Olivia. Also survived by sister, Anna Chamberlain, and many nieces and nephews. Adoptive parent of Israeli prisoner of conscience Mordechai Vanunu. Graduated Harding High School (1947), University of Minnesota (1951) and University of Minnesota Law School, J.D., (1956). Veteran of the United States Navy Reserves. Employed by West Publishing Company for 37 years, serving for many years as manager of the Statutes Department. Nick devoted his life to the struggle of the Guatemalan and Palestinian people, working tirelessly for a free Palestine. He commissioned and dedicated a memorial to the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin; the memorial is adjacent to the Midtown Greenway Bike Trail in South Minneapolis. Nick was a champion of nonviolent resolutions to conflict. Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 31 at St. Francis Cabrini, 1500 Franklin Ave. SE, Mpls, preceded by visitation at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, please send memorials to Pax Christi USA (www.paxchristiusa.org) or Friends of Sabeel North America(www.fosna.org)