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Hopeful Stories of Communities Organizing

Cameron Conner's grandfather gave valued guidance

Wayne Attwood -- Photo courtesy of Denise Attwood

My grandfather, Wayne Attwood, was the one who taught me the importance of caring for others. From a young age, I can remember how strangers with remarkable regularity would react when they saw my mother's last name and ask: "Are you related to Wayne Attwood by any chance?" My mother, Denise, would laugh and explain that she was indeed his daughter. "Dr. Attwood was the best doctor I have ever had," they always said. 

My grandfather taught me to uncompromisingly stand up for what I believed to be right, and he led by example. He chaired the Physicians for Social Responsibility as they campaigned to shut down nuclear testing at Hanford, walking miles to work along the road with a sign on his back that read, "No Blood for Oil," during the invasion of Iraq, waking up before dawn every morning to check on the patients under his care and donating blood every month like clockwork.

I don't think it would be much of a reach to say that it was his example that drove nearly all my cousins and me into careers of service as teachers, nurses and a community organizer.

Last week, Wayne passed away peacefully in Spokane. He was with family and surrounded by love.

His passing will leave a void for all of us. We are all better for having had him in our lives.

Abraham Lincoln once confided to a friend that his greatest ambition in life was to be "truly esteemed of my fellow men, by doing something worthy of their esteem."

In all the time I knew my grandfather, his greatest ambition never seemed to sway from the clear goal of loving his family and caring for his community. In doing this, however, he became one of the most loved and highly esteemed men I have known.

He saved lives, loved unconditionally and healed people.

I returned to the U.S. from England in December to support my family and help arrange next steps. To do so, I will be taking a step away from work until after the holidays.

There are many incredible stories to share from the past month working in England, crossing the country from Birmingham to Brighton, but they will have to wait until early in the new year.

Until then, hold your loved ones close and remember the people who have made you who you are.

Cameron Conner

Fig Tree Columnist

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Copyright@ The Fig Tree, January 2024