Toshi Seeger: Activist and wife of Pete Seeger


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The Independent Online

Toshi Seeger, who died on 9 July at the age of 91, was folk singer Pete Seeger's wife of 70 years and a close partner in his social and environmental activism. She was never famous like her 94-year-old husband, but friends say she was an equal who perfectly complemented her husband's's idealism.

"To understand Pete, you have to know Toshi," a long-standing family friend, Thom Wolke, said. "They were the ultimate yin and yang. Where Pete was ... the artist, Toshi kept him grounded."

Toshi Aline Ohta Seeger was born in Germany to an American mother and a Japanese father and was taken to the US as a baby. She met Pete as a teenager in New York when he performed at a square dance and stayed back afterwards to dance.

They were married in 1943 and built a cabin in Beacon in New York state; they have stayed on the high spot of land by the Hudson River since then, raising three children. The singer recalled on the recent spoken-word CD Pete Seeger: The Storm King how his extraordinary wife raised their young family in the cabin initially without water or electricity while he spent months on the road. "I'd be away," he recalled. "She'd put one baby on her hip and the other tugging at her skirt and walk 150 yards down a steep slope into a ravine where there was a little brook of clear water and she got a pail and walked back with water to wash with and cook with." She was active with the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater environmental group.

"Without my grandmother, there would be no Pete Seeger the way people understand it," Tao Rodriguez-Seeger said. "She kept everything working so that he could focus on the world-saving, civil rights, anti-nukes, Clearwater – all the projects my grandfather worked