Joan Willetts, a commited socialist, has died suddenly from a heart attack.
Joan joined the SWP in her fiftieth year, just as Tony Blair’s government took office.
Unlike many of those who rejoiced at the humiliation of Portillo and Co, she was never seduced by the smoothness of New Labour’s image.
She said Socialist Worker was the first paper that had spoken her language and made sense of the world to her.
She immediately became involved with the Saturday sales and was a driving force on the collections in support of the Dudley hospital workers’ strike.
It was not long before she assumed responsibility for Socialist Worker, then the Review and effectively became organiser of all the party publications for the branch.
Joan was always a hands-on activist and, until frustrated by health problems, ever-present on Saturday sales.
Pugnacious and proud of our politics, she carried our placard on the Newcastle Unison jobs demo in spite of the attentions of the stewards and was a key player in building the 1,000 strong contingent from Dudley on the memorable Stop the War demo in February 2003.
It was a rare demo in the last thirteen years that didn’t count her in its numbers.
To list the local branch’s interventions is to list Joan’s activity over the last 13 years.
The anti-deportation campaign for the Ahmadi family, Stop the War, the Socialist Alliance and Respect all benefited from her involvement.
There are few campaigners in the Black Country who have not received a call from Joan explaining the importance of the next meeting.
She was the wife of Ken Willetts and mother of Andrew. Our condolences go to them.
Joan was well loved and will be sorely missed by Black Country comrades and by all who had the pleasure of fighting alongside her.
Funeral: Stourbridge Crematorium, South Road. DY8 3RQ. Friday 29 January, 10.20am. Donations to the British Heart Foundation.