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Miriam "Mimi" Becker

January 12, 1924 - December 20, 2012
Miriam "Mimi" Becker, 88, native Californian, progressive community activist and lover of life died on December 20, 2012.

Hers was an incredibly rich existence, filled with purpose, meaning, community involvement and - above all else - love. Love for her husband, Ed Becker, of 48 years (predeceased); Love for her 3 children (Barry, Sandy and Carla), 2 daughters-in-law, 6 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren; Love for her extended family, friends and colleagues; Love for her community--locally, nationally and globally; And Love for this earth. Mimi exuded tremendous warmth and concern for all of those around her. "Family" was an all-inclusive term, extending far beyond blood relations. Mimi would often enter a room of strangers and within a very short time emerge with new friends welcomed as members of the family.

Miriam's parents emigrated from Russia to New York in the early 1900s. Mimi was born in Los Angeles, and raised (along with her older sister Dorothy) by her mother and loving maternal aunt and family after the early death of her father in 1929. The turning point of Mimi's life occurred in 1945 when she spent time with her New York cousins who were actively involved with progressive politics. She recalled later, "In a sense, the scales fell from my eyes as I became vitally aware of the many social inequities in this country."

From that moment on she committed herself to "social change through the democratic process at the grassroots level" and began her life of activism. She met her future husband, Edward Becker, while campaigning to recall a dishonest elected official. She and Ed were married within a year, initiating an almost 50-year loving relationship and active partnership in family, social and political endeavors.

Following wartime jobs, including a stint as "Rosie the Riveter", Miriam found her passion for teaching nursery school. She also campaigned for better quality education and the formation of the nursery school teachers' union. Her community involvement included the establishment of a free clinic for low-income clients (North Hollywood Free Clinic), a housing development for single parents (Volunteers of America/Maud Booth Family Center), a recreational program for disenfranchised teens (Open Door); a preschool educational program for children of low income parents through the YWCA.

Mimi continued her anti-war stance initiated by the prolonged Vietnam struggle and its effects on returning veterans by organizing draft resistance education and counseling for young men facing the possibility of the draft.

Dismayed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons, Mimi set up a Nuclear Freeze movement volunteer information service in Thousand Oaks. Personally, she considered opposing the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant "the greatest spiritual experience of my life - a two-week encampment with others of diverse ages and backgrounds, resolutely united in a common goal, willing to endure physical hardship and even incarceration".

Mimi collaborated with numerous non-profit agencies and individuals including Physicians for Social Responsibility, Women For, Mothers for Peace and The Christic Institute. At a family reunion she announced: "I've come to the realization that this is my calling - to resist war and all other forms of human oppression through political action. Rather than a cold marble tombstone marking my grave, I'd prefer a colorful Bumper Sticker proclaiming, 'IF YOU CAN'T JOIN 'EM, LICK 'EM'!"

Throughout their marriage, not only did Miriam and Ed contribute their energy to many causes including civil rights; they invested their hearts and minds in individual peoples' fortunes, welcoming a procession of friends into their home, often providing housing, as well as spontaneous fundraiser parties to finance worthy causes including the support of a friend's education or political office campaign. Theirs was always an "Open Door Policy".

Following Ed's death, Mimi continued her community involvement as well as enjoying time with her children and grandchildren, whom she deeply cherished and truly enjoyed. In her final years, though diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Mimi retained her loving, generous and playful spirit.

A memorial will be held in Los Angeles on August 31, 2013. For information, email mrbmemorial@gmail.com.

Published in the Los Angeles Times on Aug. 18, 2013
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