William Rodgers was one of 6 environmental activists arrested December 7. He was charged with one count of arson for a June, 1998 fire at the National Widlife Research Center in Olympia, Washington. He was found dead in his jail cell on December 21. Police claim he committed suicide with a plastic bag. Bill founded the Catalyst Infoshop in Prescott, Arizona in mid-2003.
We mourn the passing of our dear friend and community member, Bill Rodgers, who worked tirelessly for the causes of social justice and environmental sustainability. We ask that he be remembered as the gentle, kind, and compassionate person we all knew and loved here in Prescott. We remain committed to continuing the work of community building and ecological responsibility, through the Catalyst Infoshop, as part of the legacy Bill helped to create. We wish our friend the peace and serenity that he strived so hard to manifest in this world.
Bill was such a thoroughly good man; we are all richer for knowing him and having him with us, and we are all poorer for the loss of his wonderful, caring soul. We remember the inspiring conversations, and our amazement that someone so gentle and non-aggressive could have such positive, powerful hopes for the world. Words cannot express our impressions of this very human soul — nor can they contain the shock, anger, sadness and confusion about his death. Still, we will draw strength from this tragic loss to our community, and rededicate ourselves to the movement for the earth and for peace and justice. We know Bill would have wanted as much.
Bill, known to many as “Avalon,” was a deeply principled and complicated man, living a simple life oriented almost entirely around his activism to protect old growth forests and wild places. He made just enough money to keep gas in his truck, and spent the bulk of his days in the forests and deserts of the West. He was a wilderness guide and environmental educator who introduced adults to the principles of deep ecology. Bill was an articulate warrior for the wild, for environmental and social justice. He was a small man, delicate bones and gentle movements, who sometimes moved like a cat. And, like a small furry mammal, he was completely at home underground. He was never afraid to speak the truth as he understood it, and he was not afraid to take a stand against power, however risky. He was one of the brightest, most thoughtful people in this community; his insight and depth when he shared his thoughts on a subject were always well worth taking home and pondering. From catching (and releasing) live mice, to crawling through a cave opening the size of a coat hanger, to speaking for those without a voice, he will be well remembered.
The words most frequently mentioned about Bill have been “gentle,” “kind,” “compassionate,” “good natured,” and “friend.” At a small community gathering the evening we learned of his passing, we recalled funny Bill stories, his “pack rat” alter ego, how he was “the ultimate recycler,” and how he smiled even when he disagreed with you. His court-appointed attorney called him “a beautiful man with high principles,” and friends chalked “live wild” on the sidewalk in his honor. Casualty or free spirit, saboteur or man of principle, guilty or innocent — no matter. Bill was a kind, compassionate and gentle man who should never have been imprisoned. We ask that his untimely death remind us all of what is truly important in life and that it inspires personal growth beyond the need for injustice and insufficiency in the world. We know that it is now more important than ever to keep pushing forward. Endless tears on this dark night, but no fading memories or forgotten names — it will go down in action!