Activist involved in landmark Supreme Court speech rights case dies

Saturday, March 29, 2008 | 3:18 p.m. CDT; updated 6:42 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lorena Jeanne Tinker, a peace and civil rights activist, made it her mission to change what she could and chronicle what she couldn’t.

“She just is an extremely tenacious and very compassionate person,” said her son John Tinker. “She really was a champion of the oppressed.”

Mrs. Tinker was instrumental in Des Moines, Iowa’s civil rights and peace movements in the 1960s, John Tinker said. During the many meetings she attended, she always took notes, saying it was critical to document all efforts, even those that were ultimately futile.

“It’s important to bear witness to the times even if you can’t change them,” John Tinker said about his mother’s note-taking.

In 1965, Mrs. Tinker’s children wore black armbands to school in protest of the Vietnam War. The students were suspended, and eventually the case was taken to the Supreme Court. Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969) became a landmark court case defining students’ constitutional rights in schools and protecting their First Amendment rights.

Mrs. Tinker died Thursday, Feb. 28, 2008, at her daughter Hope’s home in Fayette. She was 86.

She was born Dec. 3, 1921, in Butler, Pa. She married Leonard Edward Tinker Jr. in 1945, and the couple had seven children. The Tinkers lived in Des Moines, Iowa, before moving to University City, Mo., in 1969.

Mrs. Tinker received her doctorate in psychology in 1969 and taught at several universities and colleges in the Des Moines and St. Louis areas.

In addition to teaching psychology, counseling and education, she was also a pioneer in the promotion and teaching of peace studies. When she moved to Fayette in the early nineties, she started her own practice.

Mrs. Tinker taught a peace studies course at MU and was active in Mid-Missouri Peaceworks in Columbia.

Mrs. Tinker is survived by a sister, Wandareanne Griffith of Salt Lake City; three sons, Leonard Edward Tinker III of Des Moines, Iowa, John Tinker of Fayette and Paul Tinkerhess of Ann Arbor, Mich.; three daughters, Bonnie Jeanne Tinker of Portland, Ore., Mary Beth Tinker of Fayette and Hope Tinker of Fayette; 13 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Tinker’s husband; daughter Darlene Tinker; and granddaughter Juanita Naomi Tinker died earlier.

A service will be held in Mrs. Tinker’s honor at 3 p.m. Saturday at Rock Bridge Christian Church, 301 Green Meadows Road.

Memorial contributions may be sent to Refugio del Rio Grande, 17891 Landrum Park Road, San Benito, TX 78586, or to Mid-Missouri Peaceworks, 804-C E. Broadway, Columbia, MO 65201.

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