In Memoriam: Elden ‘Bud’ Boothe, 1925-2017

Longtime activist Bud Boothe worked to achieve peaceful ends for nuclear power, civil rights, the environment, and even the military. Here, he’s pictured with his daughter, Karen Wall; they were invited to the
Supreme Court by Justice Sonia Sotomayor to hear Dennis Apel’s civil disobedience case involving Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Courtesy Photo

Longtime Santa Barbara County activist Elden Thomas “Bud” Boothe passed away peacefully in his sleep in Southport, North Carolina, at the age of 92 from complications associated with congestive heart failure.

Bud was born in Stow, Ohio, on March 8, 1925, the only son of James Lloyd and Blanche (Decoursey) Boothe. He grew up during the Depression in Ravenna, Ohio, and served overseas in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. Stationed out of England, he was a radio operator on B-17s and flew 15 missions over Germany. On his return when the war ended and after earning a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering utilizing the G.I. Bill of Rights, Bud took a job with the federal government in Anchorage, Alaska, working on the development and operation of the White Alice Communication System, an early telecom system. It was in Alaska that Bud met and married Alice Repman, and they started their family. In 1962, they all moved to Fairfax, Virginia, after Bud took a job with the Defense Communications Agency. He later worked with the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C., until his retirement in 1974.

Bud and Alice moved to California a couple of years later, settling in the small town of Los Olivos in the Santa Ynez Valley where they built their home, Casa Del Sol. There, Bud continued his lifelong love of organic gardening. Through the years in Los Olivos, Bud and Alice shared the bounty of their produce harvests with local food banks and other organizations.

Bud’s passion for peace grew from his service during WWII. After the war, reflecting on the human tragedy, he described an awakening of his moral conscience that led to his lifetime of political and social activism. Throughout his life he supported organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, that reflected his ethical inclinations, and he became a member of the Green Party later in life.

Bud actively supported civil rights issues during the 1960s and early on opposed the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. After moving to California, Bud worked with Mothers for Peace for a nuclear-free future, including opposition to the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant beginning in the 1970s. Bud actively supported efforts opposing nuclear weapons and the militarization of space, including a decades-long participation in peaceful protests and arrests at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the site of a United States nuclear missile testing program.

For several years Bud hosted the local Santa Barbara cable-access program The Next Step, which covered subjects relevant to the environment, disarmament, antinuclear struggles, military excess, and the military-industrial complex.

Bud was preceded in death by Alice, his wife of 37 years. He is survived by his three children, James, who lives in Marin; Karen Wall of Southport, North Carolina; and Robert in Orange County, and his three grandchildren, Christopher Wall, Morgan Boothe, and Taylor Boothe. He is also survived by his second wife, Dorothy Boothe, daughters-in-law Tracy Boothe and Tamara Boothe, son-in-law Dick Wall, and granddaughter-in-law Stephanie Wall.

When asked what advice he would give a young person today, Bud said, “Appreciate and accept differences in people, the differences in viewpoint and in cultural backgrounds. Appreciate and accept these differences without animosity, as long as they don’t interfere with you and your own choices. After all, there are so very many people in the world with different views and beliefs. And we each, always, have a lot to learn.”

Bud will be remembered by friends and family for his courage and honor and the principled life he lived.


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