Margaret Deffinbaugh Lee, 94, a Silver Spring resident who for nearly 30 years engaged in a one-woman campaign to promote peace through organizing school activities and urging governments to issue proclamations, died of pneumonia May 28 at the Mariner Health Facility in Kensington.
Mrs. Lee tried to persuade government officials to declare Nov. 1 as Worldwide Peace Day by writing hundreds of letters to heads of foreign governments and to U.S. governors and mayors.
In some instances, officials complied with the suggestion. In 1979, Puerto Rico passed legislation declaring Nov. 1 as an annual day for peace observance.
In other cases, leaders from Belgium, Colombia, Costa Rica, France and Japan, among others, sent Mrs. Lee their thoughts on the importance of peace.
The president of the Pacific-island nation of Micronesia wrote: "Our ancestors, who made their homes on these islands, displaced no other people. We wish no other home than this. Having known war, we hope for peace. Having been divided, we wish unity. Having been ruled, we seek freedom."
Mrs. Lee collected the quotations and messages and used them in packets of information sent to schools for educational programs on cross-cultural understanding. In the packets, she outlined ways teachers could encourage students to think about world peace, from making bumper stickers, posters and mobiles with world peace as the theme to holding panel discussions on prejudice.
She formed the predecessor of the nonprofit organization Worldwide Peace Foundation in 1964 and adopted its current name in 1982. She continued to work through the foundation until her health began to fail in 1991.
Her motivation was simple. "Since history's beginning," she once wrote in a press release, "youth has been trained for war. Let us train our young people for PEACE NOW."
She was born in Westernport, Md., and raised in Washington, where she attended Cardozo High School. As a young woman, she worked as an executive secretary at the Department of State.
She was an accomplished folk dancer and teacher.
Her marriages to Reginald E. Napper and Ralph C. Lee ended in divorce.
Survivors include a son, David Napper of Rowayton, Conn.; and two grandchildren.