March 17, 2010
By Rick Badie
Denis Adelsberger would have served his country during the Vietnam
war, but he didn't have faith in the politics behind it.
In 1968, the Philadelphia native was drafted into the U.S. Army. He,
like other draftees opposed to the war, refused to wear his uniform.
Because of that, he was imprisoned six months and received an
He settled in Atlanta, where he became a highly vocal, highly public
war protester. He counseled young men on how to oppose the war. He
wrote social and political commentary for alternative publications.
He organized anti-war vigils. He hosted a radio program called "Tirade."
"He got hooked in with the city's peace movement and stayed," said
his brother, Bernard Adelsberger of Fairfax Station, Va. "My parents
were middle-class patriots and they really didn't understand the
opposition to the war, but through Denis -- and later in the 1970s
when the Pentagon Papers came out -- they got to understand."
On Feb. 18, Denis Joseph Adelsberger of Atlanta died from
complications of lung cancer at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Home.
He was 65. A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Friday at the
Euclid Avenue Yacht Club in Atlanta.
After his discharge, Mr. Adelsberger immersed himself in this city's
anti-war scene. He eventually became a coordinator for the Atlanta
Workshop on Nonviolence. There, among other activities, he counseled
young military and civilian men who were conscientious objectors,
said George Nikas of Atlanta.
"He took over the workshop because no one wanted to do it," he said,
"and he ran it well for a number of years. Every noon on Friday, we'd
be in Five Points handing out leaflets, holding peace vigils."
One noted event was the People's Fair: A Celebration of Life, held in
Piedmont Park in 1972.
"We were tired of marching and demonstrating and all the negativity,"
Mr. Nikas said, "so we had a celebration of life. People had booze,
there were bands and we showed movies. It was more of a positive thing."
Dorothy Buono-Pirzad of Atlanta knew Mr. Adelsberger nearly five
decades. In recent years, she said numerous men had approached Mr.
Adelsberger and thanked him for the advice he provided back in the day.
"When you see a person who is willing to go to war and serve his
country, but stands against military action, it has more impact," she
said. "It wasn't that he didn't want to go fight. It was about the
politics of the war. He chose to stand by his convictions and suffer
For decades, Mr. Adelsberger worked in the trade show industry in
capacities that included a forklift operator and union steward. He
retired in 2007.
"He lived by his code and his convictions," his brother said. "And he
never backed down."
Additional survivors include a sister, Lorette Lefebvre of Willow
Grove, Pa.; and another brother, Joseph Adelsberger of Eugene, Ore.