It's “ironic” that Richard Lakin, 76, was killed in a terror attack perpetrated by Arab terrorists in Jerusalem, friends and relatives said, for he had been an ultimate symbol of the importance of coexistence between all peoples and religion.
“It's difficult for us to accept, but in a way we are comforted that he is now in a better place,” said close friend Terry Handin, who knew Lakin for over three decades.
“This was a special man who pursued peace, who had good relations with his neighbors. He taught both Arab and Jewish children, and it wasn't easy. We will continue on Richard's path, the path of patience and dialogue, in order to end the hatred between the two sides,” she said.
Formerly the principal of a Connecticut school, Lakin devoted his life to creating understand between Arabs and Jews after he came to Israel some 20 years ago.
Just hours after his father passed away on Tuesday, Micah Avni Lakin told Arutz Sheva how proud he was of of his father's incredible achievements, noting how the tragic loss had highlighted the countless lives touched by the gentle but idealistic educator and peacemaker.
"He had students and friends from all over the world who were writing to us, calling us. Literally thousands of people. Hundreds of churches and synagogues who were praying for him."
"He dedicated his entire life to educating children and to coexistence. My father marched with Rev. Martin Luther King Junior in the 60s, took part in sit-ins and freedom rides, and when he moved to Israel he was equally active in Jewish-Arab coexistence.
"He was a believer that people can work together in peaceful ways, and on a personal level I think he was right."
Handlin noted that Lakin was critically injured in the attack. “We were friends for over 30 years. Richard was a unique figure. We sat with the family in the hospital but we did not have a chance to see him because he was sedated. We understood that the situation was grave.”
Lakin was one of nearly two dozen people injured in the brutal knife and gun attack on a Jerusalem bus earlier this month. Two other Israelis - Haim Habib, 78, and 51-year-old Alon Guvberg - were also killed in the attack.