Iowa Peace Links
In 1984, Eleanor Bedell, then wife of legislator Berkeley Bedell of Spirit Lake contacted Virginia Rohwer of Paullina for her help in founding a peace organization in northwest Iowa. Rohwer organized a group to meet with Bedell in a restaurant in Primghar, Iowa, where Bedell impressed them with the size and risks of the United States nuclear arsenal. The Primghar women were unanimous in asking Rohwer, a pacifist by conviction, to take leadership in organizing a Peace Links group in Primghar. The Primghar group became a local affiliate of the national Peace Links, founded by Betty Bumpers, wife of Senator Dale Bumpers of Arkansas, and other congressional wives. Peace Links groups were also formed in Orange City, Sheldon, Cherokee, and Paullina in northwest Iowa. Members joined together to hold monthly meetings to hear speakers and collaborate on peace projects. In 1985, they hosted a group of four Russian women who toured the United States on behalf of peace. Primghar member Beth Wilson was part of the National Peace Links group that made a return visit tothe Soviet Union the following year. Other efforts to make peace more visible included creating a peace float which was pulled in several summer parades, installing a peace pole near the local school building, erecting signs advocating peace, presenting programs to a variety of local groups, and furnishing bookcovers for local schools. To make peace more visible, the group sewed a peace quilt. The first official to sleep beneath the quilt and to record his thoughts was Iowa Governor Terry Branstad. He was followed by many other legislators and officials in Iowa, Washington, D.C., and Denmark. The quilt was displayed at the Iowa Peace Institute at Grinnell, Iowa for several years and was donated to the National Peace Links in 1999 during a ceremony at a national conference honoring the northwest Iowa affiliates. In 1984, the Paullina and Primghar groups began publishing the Northwest Iowa Peace Links newsletter with Olive Wilson as editor. It eventually subsumed the irregularly published Davenport newsletter as the principle state newsletter, receiving information concerning local peace activities from concerned individuals across the state. Wilson has edited and distributed about 450 newsletters each quarter since 1986. Since the Paullina and Primghar groups are the only regularly meeting groups of Peace Links in Iowa, the newsletter keeps peace activists around the state aware of current topics and peace events. See the historical sketch included in folder 6.