Harry Gaynor, a longtime fighter for peace and justice, died in Chicago on Aug. 19 of heart failure. He was 90.

Born in 1914 in Brooklyn, N.Y., of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, Gaynor’s family moved to Chicago when he was a child. His father was a tailor and furrier and a member of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union.

Gaynor attended Fenger High School in Roseland on Chicago’s South Side. When the Great Depression struck, he had to leave school during his sophomore year to help support the family, which then included his parents, two brothers and a sister. While working, he made his first contact with progressive activities when he met Communist Party member Mario Manzardo, who gave him pamphlets and the Daily Worker.

At the beginning of World War II, Gaynor found work at the Chicago Dodge plant making parts for the B-29 bomber. There he met another party activist, Sam Gold, with whom he had many discussions about the Communist Party’s views and its role in fighting Hitler fascism. He subsequently joined the party and remained a member to the end of his life.

In the early 1940s he met Anne, his loving and supportive wife, of whom he said, “I chased until she caught me.” They married in 1947. Shortly afterwards they took real estate courses at Wright College and began their own business in the then white South Lawndale community. The discrimination in housing became personal when they were denied renting an apartment because they were Jewish.

They became more active in fighting discrimination and racism. They also joined and were active with the NAACP, the Greater Lawndale Conservation Commission, the USA-USSR Friendship Council, Freedom of Residents, the Progressive Party, Chicago Peace Council, ACLU, Anti-Defamation League and the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.

In the late 1950s, the Gaynors owned and lived in a three-family unit in the predominantly white Garfield Park neighborhood. They rented one unit to a newly wed Black couple, both city workers. The community’s reaction was immediate.

The next day over 2,000 white bigots demonstrated outside. Gunfire shattered windows, and the building’s back porch was set afire. Police had to restore order, but the Gaynors and their tenants were under siege for nearly a year. They received hundreds of pieces of hate mail. But they persevered with support from many organizations and progressives, among them the Rev. Edwin T. Bueher of the Third Unitarian Church.

Harry Gaynor’s quiet, gentle appearance belied his strong and burning belief in peace and justice for all. In an interview he summed up his beliefs, saying he stood with the many who “are fighting for a world free of war and for people, not for corporate profit.”

He is survived by his brother Nate and his son Barry. A memorial will be held in special tribute to him at the Third Unitarian Church, 301 N. Mayfield Ave., Chicago, on Sunday, Nov. 6, at 2 p.m.

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