Remembering Al Mangan
by Louise Chadez
Aloysius Anthony Mangan, Jr. died on Holy Saturday, March 30th at the age of 92. He had been living in California with son Barry and his family.
I first met Al Mangan in 1984 at a rally against the white trains at Fairchild, there with my then 2 month old daughter. Al had moved to Ford, WA, but later moved to a small house on Dean in the West Central neighborhood. His house was full of books and he was always reading. And he could recite passages from Tennyson, Burns, and Poe.
Al was both a mentor and a friend. He was active in PJALS, involved in bringing a Pax Christi group to Spokane, and always involved in the local protests. He was also a deeply spiritual man and served with me on the social concerns committee at St. Joseph Catholic Church on Dean. Perhaps it was his service in both World War II and the Korean conflict that made him such an advocate for peace and justice. He served in jail protesting Diablo Canyon and locally for protesting at Fairchild Air Force Base and the federal Building. He was steadfast committed to making the world a better place.
In the words of his son Barry:
His overriding sense of justice and respect for the common man are his true legacy. He argued against the war in Vietnam, even at the risk to his civil service position, long before most Americans had come to realize the tragedy which was developing there. He supported the cause of the farm workers to organize. He never finished college yet he was an educated man, studying history and law texts well into his retirement. When he retired from the post office, he devoted most of the remainder of his life to causes which were dear to him; Ending nuclear weapons proliferation and the spread of nuclear power plants, and their toxic wastes, defending treaty rights of Native Americans particularly in regard to disposal of nuclear wastes, and protesting the seemingly endless involvement of the United States in armed conflicts around the world. He often found himself behind bars as a result of his nonviolent protests. Perhaps it was in his last few years, after his health had begun to fail, that I began to see the more gentle side of his nature. Although never giving up his stubborn streak, he would delight in the simple joys of sitting in the sun in our backyard, marveling at the flowers, birds and butterflies.
In the words of Linda Green: “On every Tuesday morning before work I would meet him, Nancy, the Muellers and Life Has Meaning at the entrance to Fairchild to hold signs for about an hour. I think I did that for a year or two, but Al and others did it much longer.”
Liz Moore: “I strongly recall leafleting with him in his Bill of Rights t-shirt when I was an intern/volunteer in the 90’s. He was ready to point out the First Amendment to anyone who challenged our right to do so. What an inspiring long-distance runner for justice.”
Mark Hamlin added: “Al Mangan, Rusty Nelson and I spent three days in the county jail in 2003 after blocking the gates of Fairchild with seven others prior to the bombing of Iraq. It was the steadfast resolve of Al and Rusty that gave me the strength to remain reasonably sane while enduring those three days. Al was 82 years old at that time. He was always an example to me of how a humble person with a huge commitment to honesty, integrity and fairness could be a significant force for positive change. He has and will continue to be missed by me and the many others who have been encouraged and inspired by him.”
and finally, speaking of gates, David Brookbank shared: “If St Peter is letting any right wingers through the pearly gates, rest assured Al is there protesting and leafletting.”
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