A legacy of peaceful protesting
Peaceful protest has long been a way of life in the Willcox family.
Willcox's 91-year old father, Roger, campaigned against discrimination against Jewish students while studying at Harvard University. In 1949, the senior Willcox founded an interracial housing cooperative in Norwalk, aimed at creating a community with "no discrimination because of race, color, creed or politics."
The younger Willcox was only 12 when his father brought him from Connecticut to the Deep South to participate in civil rights marches.
Peter "often said that if he wasn't arrested by the time he was 21, he'd be a great disappointment to his family," recalled Maggy Willcox.
By the time he was a teenager, Willcox was working as a crew member aboard the Clearwater, a sailing ship from which the folk singer Pete Seeger campaigned against pollution on the Hudson River.
"The logical next move was Greenpeace," Roger Willcox said.
In 1985, Peter was the captain of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior when two explosions ripped through its hull while it was anchored in the port of Auckland in New Zealand.
The ship sank, killing one passenger on board, Dutch photographer Fernando Pereira.
A subsequent investigation by New Zealand authorities revealed French intelligence agents planted bombs on the ship. The deadly act of sabotage was apparently aimed at preventing Greenpeace from protesting against French nuclear tests in French Polynesia.
Natasha Willcox said her father believed "there's a lot of people out there that kind of need to be woken up and given a little push ... 'Hey, this is what's really happening and this is what we need to do to slow it down.' "
But his wife said Willcox showed some uncharacteristic reluctance before departing for the latest Greenpeace mission in the Arctic.
By the time he was in the region, however, that hesitation appeared to have faded.
The last postcard he sent to Maggy Willcox during a short stopover in Norway included an ominous final sentence: "It will be a pretty cool action if the Russians have a sence [sic] of humor. Love you tons, P."