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In Memory of Rosa Covington Packard

Portrait of Rosa Covington Packard
Photo by Friedrich Heilmann

We were saddened to learn that fellow peace tax activist Rosa Packard passed away on February 22, 2016, after a long illness.

A longtime resident of Greenwich, Connecticut, Rosa was born in New York City in 1935 and grew up in Princeton, New Jersey. A 1956 graduate of Vassar College, she received her Montessori diploma in 1963, and she worked for many years as an educational consultant to Montessori schools. She designed and led Montessori teacher training workshops around the U.S., including at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where the Oglala Lakota participants affectionately nicknamed her "Pepper." Rosa's 1972 book, The Hidden Hinge (published by Ballantine Books), about the Montessori method, continues to be used in teacher training courses today.

A passionate advocate for civil rights, and a generous host and mentor to people experiencing personal difficulties, Rosa joined the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in 1976. She served for a period of time as Clerk of Stamford-Greenwich (Connecticut) Friends Meeting and later became an active member of Purchase Friends (New York) Meeting and New York Yearly Meeting. She also served on the Board of Friends World College. As a trainer and volunteer for the Alternatives to Violence Project, she gave conflict resolution workshops in U.S. prisons. In 1980, Rosa founded Friends Peace Center, where she provided draft-registration counseling to conscientious objectors; advocated for Quaker testimonies and causes, including Friends Peace Teams and the Peace Tax Fund; and designed and led community mediation training workshops in New York State and in the United Kingdom.

Rosa Packard aimed to obtain recognition of the right to conscientious objection to paying for armaments, war preparation, and the conduct of war through taxes. In 1981 she started putting her federal taxes in an escrow account established by Purchase Friends Meeting (new window) for people whose conscience does not permit them to pay taxes for war and preparation for war. Rosa sought recognition of the right to conscientious objection to paying taxes for war and preparation for war in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, but her case was not successful, and an appeal was denied. Amicus briefs were submitted by the New York Yearly Meeting and by the CPTI. Court documents from Rosa's case are included on this Web site.

Rosa was a friend/Friend to many, especially those in New York Yearly Meeting, who were inspired by her tireless crusade on behalf of peace. Her path was through tax resistance, and she demonstrated how one person (with the help of others) really can make a difference. Rosa gave a presentation as a member of a panel discussion on personal witness at the Ninth International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns in September 2002, in Hirschluch, Germany.

Rosa is survived by her children, Caroline, Andrea, and Wells, and by six grandchildren. Memorial contributions to the American Civil Liberties Union are welcomed.