Pete Seeger Dies at 94

Iconic folk singer known for peace and protest songs, including 'If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)' and 'Turn, Turn, Turn!'

David Amran (left) takes the stage with Pete Seeger and Lorre Wyatt at the 2013 Clearwater Festival. Photo credit: Alison Bert
David Amran (left) takes the stage with Pete Seeger and Lorre Wyatt at the 2013 Clearwater Festival. Photo credit: Alison Bert

Editor's Note: The following obituary was published Tuesday on Ossining-Croton-on-Hudson (N.Y.) Patch.

by Lanning Taliaferro

Iconic folk musician Pete Seeger, who loved and lived by the Hudson River, died Monday, Jan. 27. He was 94.

Seeger was active and at home in Beacon until his final illness, going into New York Presbyterian Hospital six days ago, according to the Huffington Post. 

In its obituary, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the organization he founded, mourned the death of its founder:

"Seeger planted the seed that started Hudson River Sloop Clearwater when he and a few friends, decided to “build a boat to save the river” with the belief that a majestic replica of the sloops that sailed the Hudson in the 18th and 19th centuries would bring people to the river where they could experience its beauty and be moved to preserve it.

"Seeger was able to inspire people to make the dream a reality; the keel was laid in October 1968 and christened with Hudson River water. The 106-foot sloop Clearwater was launched on May 17, 1969 at Harvey Gamage Shipyard in South Bristol, Maine, and the inaugural sail was to South Street Seaport in New York City, and then on to her permanent home on the Hudson River. Today, the sloop sails the Hudson River from New York City to Albany as a “Sailing Classroom”, laboratory, musical stage, and forum. Since her launch, over half a million people have been introduced to the Hudson River estuary. Many Hudson Valley residents can share stories of the days when they were in elementary school and their voyage on the sloop Clearwater."

Seeger's career spanned 80 years. A member of The Weavers, one of the seminal folk music groups of the 1940s, he was blacklisted during the McCarthy Era in the 1950s. 

Seeger authored or co-authored a number of songs known throughout the world, including "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)," "Turn, Turn, Turn!" and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

He sang in great and small venues, from the halls of Congress to the annual Pumpkin Festival in Beacon, where he had lived since 1943 with his wife Toshi Alina Ota, who died in July 2013.

President Barack Obama issued the following statement on Seeger's death on Tuesday:

"Once called 'America’s tuning fork,' Pete Seeger believed deeply in the power of song. But more importantly, he believed in the power of community — to stand up for what’s right, speak out against what’s wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be. Over the years, Pete used his voice — and his hammer — to strike blows for worker’s rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation. And he always invited us to sing along. For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Pete’s family and all those who loved him."

[Patch editor Jason Spencer contributed to this report.]


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