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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Merritt BS: Who are your heroes (82* d) RE: BS: Who are your heroes 30 Mar 04

My Dad - this piece below is probably too long, but it just barely gives one a sense of this man. - Merritt

William Bussiere, 78, Peace Activist
By Gayle Ronan Sims, Inquirer Staff Writer

William Bussiere, a peace activist and social worker who worked to stop gang violence in North Philadelphia and to enact laws for urban renewal, died July 18 at his home in the William Penn Housing Cooperative in Center City.

Mr. Bussiere was born and raised in Woonsocket, R.I., where he excelled in athletics but not academics. He dropped out of high school in 1943 and enlisted in the Marines. He served in the Pacific Theater during World War II with the Marine Corps Sixth Division fighting in battles on Guam, Okinawa and Guadalcanal.

After the war, Mr. Bussiere returned to Rhode Island to complete his high school education. Then, supported by the GI Bill, he earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Springfield College in Massachusetts and a master's in social work from Bryn Mawr College in 1962.

In the early-1950s, Mr. Bussiere was a founder of a national committee of veterans, Enlisted Men for Censure, based in Palmer, Mass., seeking the censure of U.S. Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy.

Mr. Bussiere came to Yeadon in 1958 and later lived in Lansdowne until the early 1970s. He was active in the Democratic Party in Delaware County for 12 years, serving four years as the chairman of the Lansdowne Democratic Committee. He quit as chair when the National Democratic Committee backed Lyndon Johnson and, by extension, more war in Vietnam.

His work with gang members began in 1958, when he was hired by the Friends Neighborhood Guild, a Quaker organization that had a settlement house and community center in North Philadelphia. He later became a director at the Neighborhood Guild, supervising social workers and graduate students in community-improvement efforts, before leaving in 1971.

Between 1975 and 1991, he supervised the training of graduate and undergraduate students in the schools of social work at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Bryn Mawr College.

Mr. Bussiere actively opposed the Vietnam War and was a founding member of the Veterans for Peace, Philadelphia Chapter. He was active in the civil-rights movement, in efforts to preserve neighborhoods, and worked to maintain housing options for minorities in all neighborhoods.

Perhaps Mr. Bussiere's most lasting achievement was his part in getting the state to install a historical marker at Sixth and Rodman Streets, where W.E.B. DuBois lived while he researched and wrote his landmark "The Philadelphia Negro" in the 1890s.

Charles Blockson, curator of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collections at Temple University, said Mr. Bussiere approached him in 1992 and asked for help getting a marker installed on the spot to honor DuBois. The two men contributed and raised money for the marker, which was installed in 1995.

Mr. Bussiere is survived by his wife of 14 years, Juliana Forsythe Brosch; daughters Elizabeth Bussiere-Nichols, Patricia Bussiere Rigby, and Ann Bussiere; a son, Merritt; and 13 grandchildren. He also is survived by Lillian Stuart, to whom he was married from 1950 until 1981.

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