Eleanor had been a fighter for justice and peace all of her adult life, even while raising two daughters and excelling in her career in social work. She was born into a conservative Boston family, but her independent spirit and sharp mind led her into the progressive struggle. It was in Washington, D.C., during World War II, while working for the government, that she met her future husband, Joseph Belser, who, until his death nine years ago, supported her in every way.
Eleanor was an active member of the ACLU. During the fifties, she even had the ‘honor’ of being blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee!
When the Belsers moved to the Mar Vista neighborhood in 1961, they found a community of very active people involved in movements to abolish nuclear testing and to end the Vietnam war. During these years, Eleanor was an organizer of three political block parties on her street. The first was against Cap 14, a measure in the state to repeal the antidiscrimination housing act. Cap 14 was defeated. Two huge block parties protested the Vietnam War and raised money for congressmen opposed to the war. George McGovern came, and people came from all over Los Angeles. The city blocked off the street and the neighbors erected a platform, cooked and sold food.
When the Mar Vista Neighbors for Peace and Justice group sprang up to protest the drum beat for the attack on Iraq, Eleanor was right there, joining their vigils on the southwest corner of Mar Vista Park. She opened her home to the group for meetings and suppers. She hosted fundraisers for Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Election Protection. Marcy Winograd, a grassroots candidate for Congress, launched her campaign on Eleanor’s front lawn.
For six years, Eleanor came to the Mar Vista Park corner to hold a peace sign. At first she walked, then she was driven, and leaned on her cane. Then she had to sit in a folding chair. But she always came, if her health permitted. She was the epitome of the engaged citizen. And we will miss her very much.
Memorial services for our dear friend Eleanor Belser will be taking place on Saturday, March 7, from 2-4, at the Olympic Collection, located on the northwest corner of Sawtelle and Olympic. Her family hopes you will be able to come and perhaps share some thoughts and memories of Eleanor.