Helen Dery Woodson died on December 2, 2023. An only child, she was welcomed to the world 80 years earlier, on June 26, 1943, by her mother, Helen Dery and father, Carl Strauch.
Helen had a large family of one birth child and many adopted children, most with disabilities. In the early 1980s, while raising her family in Madison, Wisconsin, Helen started the Gaudete Peace and Justice Center and wrote and published its newsletter, Harvest of Justice. She became involved in nuclear weapons protest, sometimes resulting in her arrest. After being convicted of charges for the 1984 Silo Pruning Hooks plowshares action she took part in with three others at a nuclear missile silo in Missouri, she spent 27 years in prison for that and subsequent actions. She has the distinction of being the longest jailed nuclear resister.
Helen was released from prison for the last time on September 9, 2011.
She “retired” from protest activities and lived a quiet prayerful life in Kansas City, Missouri. She was a devout Traditional Catholic and was a member of both St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Catholic Church and St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, both in the Kansas City metropolitan area. She died fortified with the sacraments of Holy Mother Church. A Requiem Mass will be held on Monday, December 11, 2023, 10:30 am at St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Catholic Church, Mission Woods, Kansas.
Helen is survived by her children and grandchildren, friends and people around the world who continue to be inspired and encouraged by her actions for a nuclear-free future.
Requiescat in Pace.