Dr. Frank J. Ostrowski, 79: Psychologist, peace activist

The roots of his pacifism might stem from time spent at Cretin-Derham High, a Catholic military high school in St. Paul, Minn. It was during World War II. School officials would read aloud the names of alumni who'd died while serving.

The young Ostrowski understood that war, at least this one, was necessary. He only wished there were alternatives to violence.

"Every since a young age, he felt that war was such a waste," said Sarah Lopez, his wife of 42 years. "He certainly has been a pacifist all his life."

He acted on it, too.

He co-founded Alternatives to Violent Acts, an Atlanta nonprofit that addressed male batterers. He served as an officer for Psychologists for Social Responsibility. He volunteered for Habitat for Humanity.

And he wrote and self-published a book: "Beyond Systems: Achieving Peace Through Our Shared Humanity." The book dealt with how people are raised in systems that shape their beliefs and way of thinking. In return, they are prepared to defend, even kill, in defense of that system.

Dr. Ostrowski proposed that individuals look beyond the system for a "shared humanity."

Atlanta psychologist John R. Paddock wrote a review of the book.

"I thought it was great," said Dr. Paddock, who called his decades-long friend a "pragmatic idealist."

In 2005, Dr. Ostrowski was diagnosed with thymus cancer. He underwent surgery to have the organ removed, but the cancer returned in 2007.

On Monday, Dr. Frank J. Ostrowski died from complications of cancer at his home. He was 79. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Central Congregational United Church of Christ. Premier Crematory, LLC is in charge of arrangements.

In 1956, Dr. Ostrowski was ordained as a Catholic priest in Louvain, Belgium. He served a parish in South St. Paul for several years, then studied theology in Rome, where he met his future wife.

In the mid-1960s, he returned to St. Paul, where he continued to serve as a priest. He also taught briefly at St. Thomas College. He eventually left the priesthood and enrolled at the University of Florida, where he earned a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

In 1967, Mrs. Lopez was working on her PhD at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. He flew up for a visit and they married shortly thereafter.

In the early 1970s, Dr. Ostrowski interned at the Georgia Mental Health Institute. A year later, he accepted a job with the Brevard Mental Health Center in Rockledge, Fla.

In 1974, the couple returned to Atlanta so Mrs. Lopez could complete her PhD at Georgia State University. Here, the couple founded Phoenix Psychological Associates, which they were a part of until the mid-1990s.

"The first thing that we did was work dealing with abusive parents," his wife said, "then the issues of domestic violence. A lot of his later practice involved doing evaluations, assessments and consultations to determine if people were eligible for disability."

Dr. Ostrowski was a representative for the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR), an organization that opposes wars, at the United Nations. IFOR paid tribute to the psychologist on its Web site.

"He was somebody who really walked the talk when it came to doing really deep thinking about peace," said Dr. Paddock, his friend. "He was about making a mindful choice to care about people and treat people with equality in mind. Everybody who knew Frank knew this was what he was all about."

Additional survivors include two sons, Jim Ostrowski of South Pasadena, Calif. and Mike Ostrowski of Marina Del Rey, Calif.; and two granddaughters.

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