Martin Boksenbaum, a LEPOCO supporter since the 1980s and a Lehigh Valley leader on much work for the environment and in building community, died on August 7. His work and his dedication to that work is missed by so many including LEPOCO.
Martin Boksenbaum and Janet Goloub came to the Lehigh Valley in 1980. They first lived in Allentown and then in Treichlers. Martin taught in the Allentown School District for two decades.
I still remember a 1992 conversation with Martin on a walk for indigenous rights during the Quincentennial year of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. It is interesting that that thread of concern for indigenous rights continued in Martin’s work surfacing again in the Americas Solidarity Group (ASG) in recent years. At gatherings held in Martin’s honor people spoke of the long consistency in the themes of his work for a better world and in his deep commitment to bringing people and groups together in that work.
Some will remember that Martin played violin in a trio at several LEPOCO Annual Dinners — one indication of his love for music and his involvement in the arts community. He was a leader in the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. Martin worked diligently in the local manifestations of the Green Party — a big supporter of the campaign of Greta Browne for a seat in the U.S. Congress in 2006. He was a long-time devoted booster of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) — organizing local workshops and programs about CELDF and writing about their accomplishments in this newsletter.
In 2003 Martin was a founding member of the Alliance for Sustainable Communities–Lehigh Valley. He was a driving force in the organization that has produced the very popular annual Sustainable Lehigh Valley Directory of Organizations since 2003. More recently he was a leader in the production of three issues of the Left Turn journal by the Beyond Capitalism Working Group of the Alliance. He was a steady presence for the Alliance in the community.
Janet Goloub (who Martin described as his life partner of 38 years) died in 2015. Janet was more directly involved in the workings of LEPOCO, as a member of the Steering Committee and in the Americas Solidarity Group. Martin honored Janet’s memory by becoming involved in some of the places where she had worked before her death — this included volunteering at WDIY and working in LEPOCO’s ASG and on this newsletter. His contributions were many, but it is worth noting his efforts were instrumental in gathering wider local community support for the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act (the Act is still pending in Congress as HR-1945 with 72 cosponsors).
Martin was fortunate to find a new life partner after Janet’s death — Pam Ruch of Emmaus. They had happy times together including a cultural awareness trip to Cuba earlier this year. Martin organized a presentation by the Cuba delegation for a LEPOCO Potluck & Politics program in June.
Leukemia took Martin’s life all too quickly. Those trying to continue the work he was doing will need lots of help and support. Memorial donations were requested to the Alliance for Sustainable Communities–Lehigh Valley, 1966 Creek Road, Bethlehem, PA 8015.
Faramarz Farbod, who teaches politics at Moravian College, became deeply involved in the work of the Alliance at the invitation of Martin in 2011. At an Alliance gathering Faramarz shared from seven statements by Martin that were among Martin’s goals for “Quality of Life,” written in 2017. One of those statements reads: “To be engaged in meaningful activities for the rest of my life and to be excited and enthusiastic about what I have to do and get to do each day.” Those of us who knew Martin saw that commitment in practice regularly. Faramarz wrote on the day of Martin’s death, “It is with profound sadness that I inform you of the passing of our friend and my comrade Martin Boksenbaum. A good and a passionate heart has stopped beating…”
Nancy Tate is a founding member and long-time staff person at LEPOCO, the Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern.
This originally appeared in the September/October 2019 edition of the LEPOCO Newsletter.