BEACON, NY — Toshi Seeger, Clearwater matriarch and wife and partner to Clearwater founder Pete Seeger for almost seventy years, passed away Tuesday night at home. Toshi Seeger’s efforts and influence were key to the founding of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater over 45 years ago, and also to its continued evolution as an environmental organization serving the Hudson River Valley today.
Toshi-Aline Ohta Seeger co-founded Hudson River Sloop Clearwater with husband, musician and activist, Pete Seeger in 1966. Toshi was involved with Clearwater in multiple ways from the organization’s beginnings and helped to steer the various folk concerts and events, including Pumpkin Sail and the early incarnations of the Clearwater Festival. She was active in the development of what has been known as the Great Hudson River Revival for 35 years, a music and environmental festival that welcomes over 20,000 visitors to Croton Point Park in Westchester County, NY each year.
Toshi attended many of Clearwater’s earliest board meetings and helped the organization develop its mission and methods. With a fine analytical mind, she was cognizant and vocal about how Clearwater’s work fit into the larger picture and sought to involve the local communities including as many different kinds of people and points of view. Toshi was important to setting the tone of the festivals, from establishing a great deal of the booking to starting the “litter pickers” program that evolved into the Clearwater Festival’s award-winning Zero Waste program.
Many Clearwater members recall that she “fed the world” and brought the Stone Soup tradition to every type of Clearwater event. When the sloop Clearwater was launched in South Bristol, she headed up the effort to feed over 2000 people. “We of little faith could not believe we could do that, but Toshi showed us how, said Debbie Cohen. She always helped us do more than we thought we could (and I still have her in my head).”
Clearwater founding member Hal Cohen shared that, “All of us were enriched by her, and our lives are better because of her.”
Toshi was truly a selfless soul — the unsung force behind so many of our dreams for a just world,” said Travis Jeffrey, longtime family friend. “She not only fed our bodies with her remarkable culinary concoctions, but she fed our spirits to keep us all going. She was as good, as honest, and as candidly straightforward a person as I have ever known. I will not attempt to count her accomplishments; I’m just proud to have counted her as a friend.”
Toshi’s contributions to Clearwater over the past four decades are countless and she will be missed by all. Clearwater extends its deepest condolences to Pete Seeger and to the Seeger Family.