Paul Bloyd, 76, social justice activist

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By Ken Trainor

Staff writer

Paul G. Bloyd, 76, of Forest Park, formerly of Oak Park, died on Oct. 2, 2010. He grew up hopping the streetcar to Wrigley Field to watch his beloved Cubs.

According to his son, Alec Bloyd-Peshkin, he had a social work background, but soon branched into community-based nonprofit organizations with a focus on housing issues. He worked for the regional office of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (an agency within the Dept. of the Interior), then as a regional representative for the Office of Economic Opportunity.

In the early 1970s, while living in Oak Park, he became involved in integration issues through the Oak Park Community Organization (formerly the Oak Park Citizens Action Program).

"He was part of the push to get a ban on For Sale signs," Bloyd-Peshkin recalled, "and redlining by banks. He worked with banks on their lending patterns and helped steer people toward banks with better practices. He had a real interest in social justice issues. He saw things that needed to be addressed, and he got involved."

Alec's brother, Jim Bloyd, recalled, "My dad opposed racial quotas in Oak Park that were proposed as a way of addressing block-busting engaged in by the real estate industry in the Chicago area. He was a strong believer in the power of people working together in an organized way to counteract the power of wealth. For a brief time, he worked together with Shell Trapp and Gail Cincotta, nationally known organizers who successfully [lobbied for] the federal Community Reinvestment Act legislation that prohibited redlining."

Other issues he and OPCO worked on were safety on the el ramps and a proposal for an 70-plus story tall building on the site of "Stankus Hole" at the corner of Lake Street and Home Avenue (where 100 Forest Place is now located).

"He helped a lot of people," Bloyd said.

In 1979, the Bloyds moved to Washington D.C. where he served as director of the Center for Community Change, then to the San Francisco area and finally Milwaukee, working on housing issues with various nonprofits.

"My father looked out for other people," Bloyd-Peshkin said. "Seeing injustice and people in need is what drove him."

"He was not afraid to take things on and just do them," said Bloyd-Peshkin, "whether it was camping, sailing, cross-country skiing or home repair." He built a fireplace in their home and a treehouse in the backyard.

"He taught us that if you want something, figure out how and do it."

That included community organizing. "He was good at pulling people together," Bloyd-Peshkin recalled. Working through OPCO, he helped resolve a teachers' strike at Lincoln School, where his sister, Nell, was teaching.

"One of the things I learned from Dad," Jim Bloyd recalled, "was to never cross a picket line."

In 1983, he, along with other U.S. citizens, participated in a work brigade, picking cotton as an act of solidarity with the people of Nicaragua.

In their 60s, he and his wife decided to ride their bikes across the country from Washington State to Maine.

"He was very active physically," Bloyd-Peshkin said.

In 2005, they moved to Forest Park, where he battled the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

Paul Bloyd was the husband of Joy Bloyd, the father of Jim (Cyndy Lilagan) Bloyd and Alec (Sharon) Bloyd-Peshkin, the grandfather of Hannah and Jeremy Bloyd-Peshkin and the sister of Nell Bloyd.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 23 at Lake Street Church, 607 Lake St., in Evanston. For more information, call 847-864-2181.

Contact:
Email: ktrainor@wjinc.com

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Magpie  

Posted: October 20th, 2010 8:39 PM

I had one fleeting interaction with Mr. Bloyd at least 40 years ago, after I received a school assignment in regards to ... recycling - I think. At present, the details of the assignment are hazy in my memory, but I am still left with the vivid impression of the kindness and patience Mr. Bloyd exhibited to me when I phoned his home (probably during the dinner hour)and managed to squeak out a few silly questions. Bless you, Mr. Bloyd, for your graciousness to an awkward child.

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