BELOIT - Fellow activists will miss the late Vietnam Veteran and protester Lars Prip, spent his retirement years traveling across the country and on the streets of Beloit advocating for peace.
Prip passed away Wednesday at the age of 71.
Prip's friend Davis Soumis said there is a sign-holding ceremony set for Saturday at the Dane County Farmers Market in Madison in Prip's honor starting at 9:30 a.m. Soumis said he and Prip demonstrated for peace at the market for eight or nine years, speaking to hundreds of people. Many curious onlookers were from other countries and were often surprised to see a veteran holding peace signs.
Soumis said it's rare for someone to devote so much of their time in civic engagement.
"He was like a magnet for people," Soumis said.
"He was a peaceful, warm, kind and loving man. He did more in a year than most people do in their lifetimes," said friend and fellow activist Vivian Creekmore.
The Madison event is just one of many remembrances of Prip. Not only are hundreds of kind comments flowing in on Facebook about him, but on Thursday, a group of friends and family met at one of Prip's favorite spots in Beloit, the corner of Highways 81 and 51. It was one of the two street corners in Beloit where Prip could often be seen with his "Veterans for Peace" vest, a flag and signs promoting peace and racial equality, according to friend and Rock County Board member Yuri Rashkin.
Prip was known for loving his country. He was a Danish immigrant who came to the U.S. as a child.
He enlisted into the U.S. Marine Corps on June 22, 1967. He served for two years in Vietnam. He then reenlisted as a Sergeant and served two years in Tehran, Iran and in the U.S. Prip was honorably discharged from active duty on June 21, 1971 and was relieved from reserve duty on Feb. 26, 1973.
An engineer, Prip lived and worked in Beloit. However, he always grieved for his twin brother, Soren, who he lost in the Vietnam War. Prip then spent his life working to promote peace as a proud member of Veterans for Peace.
Rashkin said he first met Prip at the time of the 2011 Wisconsin protests to recall Scott Walker and oppose Act 10. Prip, Rashkin said, was a fixture at protests including those against drone warfare. Creekmore noted Prip protested the Dakota Access Pipeline.
"He was trying to educate people on a variety of issues and he felt he could best do it on that street corner, holding a sign and engaging in conversation," Rashkin added. "I felt he had great credibility to speak on these issues. Protesting war had meaning because he was a veteran."
People would come out and talk to Prip or sometimes stand alongside him on the Beloit street corners.
Rashkin, a Russian immigrant, said he always felt a kinship to Prip because of his immigrant status.
"We have a passion for this county we were not born into, but fell in love with," Rashkin said.