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Quaker Activist Remembered

Word spread quickly through the Quaker congregation that one of their own would not be coming home.

Tom Fox's body was found Friday, three days after he didn't appear in a video of Christian activists who had been taken hostage in Iraq. But members of the Hopewell Centre Quaker congregation in Clear Brook said they would not let their sadness overshadow the importance of what Fox was trying to accomplish.

"The important thing is the legacy lives and Tom lives with us," said Paul Slattery, a member of his support group of Langley Hill Friends Meeting.

Fox, 54, was the only American in a group of four Christian Peacemaker Teams members who were taken hostage last year by a previously unknown group, the Swords of Righteousness Brigade.

A video showing the other three hostages — James Loney, 41, of Toronto; Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, a Canadian electrical engineer; and Norman Kember, a 74-year-old retired British professor — was shown Tuesday on Al-Jazeera television.

FBI spokesman Noel Clay said he had no information on the other three hostages. Clay said he did not know how Fox was killed but said additional forensics will be done in the United States. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is investigating, he said.

Those who knew him say Fox had prepared himself for the possibility he would not return from Iraq. He even wrote about it on his Web log when he first arrived in Baghdad in October 2004.

"I am to stand firm against the kidnapper as I am to stand firm against the soldier," he wrote. "Does that mean I walk into a raging battle to confront the soldiers? Does that mean I walk the streets of Baghdad with a sign saying 'American for the Taking'? No to both counts. But if Jesus and Gandhi are right, then I am asked to risk my life and if I lose it to be as forgiving as they were when murdered by the forces of Satan."

Fox worked with incarcerated Iraqis, often serving as the only link between them and their families on the outside, said Slattery.

Fox also escorted shipments of medicine to clinics and hospitals and worked to form an Islamic Peacemaker Team.

"This guy was not after martyrdom by any means," Slattery said. "He actually believed in his heart that he would better them by his conviction and his beliefs and his skills, and I think largely succeeded.

"What he leaves behind is a tremendous challenge for the rest of us and a guiding force."

In an appeal for her father's life issued through Christian Peacemaker Teams after his capture, Fox's daughter Katherine described him as a wanderer, an outdoorsman and a listener. He also was a gifted musician, a former clarinetist with the Marine Corps Band in Washington, she said.

"My dad wasn't a Marine, he was a musician," Fox wrote.

Fox had traded in his fatigues for a life of pacifism.

He moved to Clear Brook, an hour outside of Washington, D.C., in August. He liked the calm of the Shenandoah Valley between his visits to Iraq.

"Tom's work was very important, and the way that we will honor him is to try to continue that work, maybe not for each of us going to Iraq, but we all have the opportunity to create peace in our own community," said Anne Bacon, clerk of the Quaker meeting.