By Craig Simpson

Dorelen (Dorie) Feise Bunting passed away August 24, 2023, at 101 years old. From her teenage years until well into her 90s, Dorie was present and active in the peace and justice movement. She touched the lives of many people in New Mexico and around the world. She was my mentor and friend and lived as a model of a nonviolent life.

As a teenager in 1938, Dorie lived with a family in Berlin, Germany and watched the growth of the Nazi party. She committed her first act of civil disobedience by opposing the law of association with Jews. This shaped much of her activism throughout her life, “In terms of my feelings about war, the destruction it causes to people, that was heavily influenced by my trip to Germany in 1938”, Dorie stated in an interview with Joan Bernan in 1994. (The Paper, 9/10/2023). From this experience Dorie became a lifelong pacifist and an advocate for human rights. 

After the war she worked in Italy with war refugees and met her future husband Bainbridge Bunting, a WWII conscientious Objector and also a Quaker. They married and moved in 1948 to a one room adobe house in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bainbridge became a well renowned architectural historian and a professor at University of New Mexico wrote the books: Houses of Boston's Back Bay- An Architectural History and Early Architecture in New Mexico. He and Dorie built a large beautiful, meandering adobe house- which had bedrooms for their children: Meredith, Emily and Findley and a ballroom and gathering space. The house became a welcome home and sanctuary. for activists from many causes throughout New Mexico .

Dorie and Bain were also instrumental in starting the Albuquerque Friends Meeting and helped build an early peace presence in the area.

Before I met her, I always saw Dorie in the audience or at demonstrations. She showed up for most everything. She joined and started a local chapter of Amnesty International and was always campaigning for individual international prisoners, writing letters to them and getting others to write.

I’m not sure when I first met Dorie. It was soon after I returned to University of New Mexico after a year and half as a VISTA volunteer in 1968. The campus was filled with activism and protests with students fighting for a Chicano Studies department, protests around a visit by Senator Strom Thurmond, anti-war vigils, and farmworker grape and Safeway boycotts. The Brown Berets were active in the South Valley of Albuquerque. I may have noticed this tall older woman quietly sitting in the back of the room at many of these events.

After one of these protests I found a flier on the ground from the War Resisters League in New York City advocating draft resistance to the Vietnam War. I was moved by its message. During Christmas vacation in New Jersey I spent a day in New York visiting the offices of WRL and Catholic Peace Fellowship. WRL sent me a list of members from New Mexico. It was a short list. The name Dorie Bunting seemed familiar.

I finally contacted Dorie about forming a chapter of the War Resisters League and began working with her on a regular basis. She seemed so much older than my 23 years. She was probably in her 40s! We agreed that we wanted to have a local group working to end the war and to talk about nonviolence. WRL was a great fit. I knew she was a Quaker, though I wasn’t sure I knew what a Quaker was. She seemed to know in her soul what nonviolence was. Dorie seemed to be living it. We finally made a commitment to start a WRL local Chapter with Seig Martinez, a friend from Gallup, John Plug and a few others.

We began promoting nonviolence and our opposition to the Vietnam War. I had read Thoreau’s essay on Civil Disobedience at University of New Mexico before going to VISTA and now I began to understand it. Dorie encouraged me to read about Gandhi and the lives of John Woolman and the history of nonviolent action. Our local chapter began holding vigils at Kirtland Air Force Base and the draft board on a regular basis. The national WRL helped us to bring in speakers which included Igal Roodenko and David McReynolds. David Harris and Ira Sandperl also came through. Each morning the WRL group walked and talked with people entering the draft board. Dorie stood by our side and joined in the discussion..

Soon WWII and Civil rights activists Wally and Juanita Nelson moved to Northern New Mexico. Their presence energized our WRL group to work more on War Tax Resistance and Dorie helped them connect to quakers in the area. Bob Bady showed up around this time in a War Resisters League bus that was traveling the country and joined our group. Wally especially encouraged all of us to do more workshops around the State on War tax resistance which were held at the Quaker meeting and the Bunting household.

The Nelsons were Dorie’s age and they all gave us younger activists lots of encouragement from their home and farm. Dorie remained close to them the rest of her life. Randy Kehler stopped by the WRL house and we linked him up with the Nelsons which was the start of their move to New England

WRL was involved with draft counseling and GI counseling, we formed alliances with Chicano/a activists, artists, supported the grape and Safeway boycotts organized by the United Farm workers. We held demonstrations against the military overthrow of the government in Chile and opposed the dictatorship..

Before the Vietnam War ended in 1974 I went to Europe to work at the War Resisters International office in Brussels for a year. I returned to Albuquerque in 1976.

Again, Dorie and I helped revive the Southwest office of WRL. We joined alliances of peace people in Texas, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. The Cactus Alliance was formed as a regional network.

Dorie and WRL helped to form the New Mexico Peace Conversion Project. We researched and printed a map/poster of military, nuclear weapons labs, uranium mines and nuclear test sites in New Mexico. We held study groups with literature from the Movement for a New Society to discuss more strategic analysis. The meetings were held at Dorie’s house and she always joined in the discussions.

Picture of Dorie from the Continental Walk in Los Alamos (1976) (Photo by Ed Hedemann)
Picture of Dorie from the Continental Walk in Los Alamos (1976) (Photo by Ed Hedemann)


Then in the mid- 70s there was more opposition to nuclear weapons and power. We had lots to work on in New Mexico. The Continental Walk came through and we had demonstrations in Albuquerque and Los Alamos. Dorie was a main participant in all its stops in New Mexico.

WRL and Dorie helped start Citizens Against Nuclear Threats (CANT) to oppose the building of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad. WIPP was supposed to be the Department of Energy’s solution to military and nuclear weapons waste. CANT emphasized nonviolent direct action stop the building of this plant in Southeastern New Mexico..

This was joined by a campaign against the National nuclear weapons lab of Sandia and Los Alamos by showing up at hearings and demonstrations. WRL with Dorie played a major role in the formation of the Mount Taylor Alliance with Chicana/o, Native, and Black activists opposing uranium mining in Grants, Gallup, and the Navajo Reservation. We had a joint effort to end the mining in New Mexico and stop the building of WIPP.

Dorie at the WIPP Civil Disobedience (Photo by Helen Vozenik)

Soon after the death of her husband Bain in 1981, the Mount Taylor Alliance called a major civil disobedience in Carlsbad in which 20 people were arrested including Dorie and several WRL members. WRL was part of the nonviolence training and organizing. It was Dorie's first civil disobedience action since disobeying German anti-Jewish laws in 1938. She is quoted in WRL News (Nov. Dec. 1981): “This being my first act of civil disobedience, I am most impressed with it as a means of jarring others to think by confronting them contrary to their usual or expected behavior. Channels of communication are open to officials who are stimulated to see things in a different light.Que viva la no violenicia!. She went to do more arrests in her lifetime.

(read the entire "Civil Disobedience at WIPP in New Mexico" by Dorie Bunting from WRL News, Nov-Dec 1981)

I left New Mexico and returned again and again over the years and Dorie continued her activism including the Sanctuary movement for people fleeing Central American wars. She helped the Faith coalition transport people fleeing violence. During the Regan years.

Dorie was one of three people to found the Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center. The center moved into a bigger headquarters in an old Union hall near the University which helped pull together all the organizations in the area and keep activism going.

Dorie was honored in 1987 with the lifetime achievement peace award by the War Resisters League at the annual dinner in New York. Later she was honored at the Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center for her co-founding. A huge dinner was held and attended by most of the Peace and Justice community in Albuquerque on her 100th birthday in 2022.

Dorie was active into her 90s and survived her oldest Daughter Emily. Her younger daughter, Meredith lived and cared for her for the last 20 years driving her to meetings and rallies.

She influenced many people, including me, about activism, nonviolence and opposing all war. She was a mentor and a kind and wonderful person to me and shaped me by her support.


In 1987 Dorie received WRL’s 26th Annual Peace Award at a dinner in New York City. (Photo by Ed Hedemann)


The scroll read:

For more than three decades
she has worked in her community
both for peace and for social justice.
In the state where the first nuclear device was tested,
she has tested the human conscience
in the struggle
for a planet enduring in peace,
not wasted by atomic fires.

Read More

The Nonviolent Activist, vol 4, no 3 April-May 1987 - short item, page 15: "Activist Dorie Bunting will be given WRL's twenty-sixth annual Peace Award at a dinner ceremony in New York City on May 8. Dorie, a former member of the WRL National Committee, has played an active role in numerous peace organizations for over thirty-five years. She is one of the founding members of the Albuquerque (NM) Center for Peace and has been especially active in the southwest."

The Nonviolent Activist, vol 4, no 5 June-August 1987 - Picture of her getting award, page 15: "Dorie Bunting receiving the 26th Annual Peace award from WRL Chairperson Matt Meyer at the Annual Dinner, New York City, May 8, 1987. She is a former member of the WRL National Committee and a founding member of the Albuquerque (NM) Center for Peace. Dorie received the award for a lifetime of peace activity and her current work with the sanctuary movement in New Mexico."

Read Civil Disobedience at WIPP in New Mexico by Dorie Bunting from WRL News: