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Erica Bouza never expected to become a celebrity in April 1983 when she and 138 other anti-nuclear protesters sat down in front of the Minneapolis headquarters of Honeywell Corp., at that time the nation's 16th-largest defense contractor.

But when Minneapolis police moved in, under the direction of her husband, Police Chief Tony Bouza, and arrested the demonstrators, she became a front-page story in the city — and across the nation.

"I'm so nervous that I'm shaking," Erica Bouza, then 51, told a local reporter when she was discovered among the activists staging the peaceful sit-in. "I'm here because I have to save your children and mine. Not because I want to, but because I felt I had to."

Bouza died Thursday at age 92 at the Amira Choice Bloomington memory care center, said her son, Dominick Bouza. She suffered from advanced Alzheimer's and had recently fallen and broken her hip.

Tony Bouza, who served as police chief for eight years beginning in 1980, died at the same facility in June at age 94. He did not have Alzheimer's but wanted to be with his wife as her illness progressed.

"She was a lady of so much dignity," said Mary Lou Ott of Edina, a fellow peace activist who noted that Bouza, who was born in England, retained her British accent throughout her life.

Her husband "was very proud of her," Ott said. "She was such a strong woman. She was going to do what she was going to do."

Bouza was one of 577 anti-nuclear activists who were arrested in a second nonviolent sit-in outside Honeywell in October 1983, this time sentenced to 10 days in the Hennepin County workhouse — and later featured in an article in People Magazine.

The 1984 story included an interview with her police chief husband, often a jokester, who was asked if he had any parting words for his wife before her incarceration.

"I told her rehabilitation was possible," he replied. "I said she should rethink her misdeeds and life of crime, and find a different path in life."

On her second day in the workhouse, Bouza was abruptly transferred to a 6-by-10-foot solitary confinement cell after two anonymous telephone threats were made against her life.

"There were times I thought I would go crazy," she said of her three days in solitary. "I wouldn't do that to an animal."

Bouza was born in 1931 to Isidor and Dorothy Blume. He was a businessman, and the family was affluent, Dominick Bouza said. The Jewish family moved to the countryside during Nazi Germany's bombing raids on London.

Bouza's mother died when she was 15. She attended finishing school, and her father remarried and moved to Florida. Bouza preferred big-city life, and in the early 1950s she moved to New York, where she worked as a secretary.

At a party in 1955, a mutual friend introduced her to Tony Bouza, then a New York police officer. Dominick Bouza said his mother saw her future husband from across the room and said, "This is the man I'm going to marry." Two years later, they did. A son, Anthony, was born in 1960 in Brooklyn; Dominick was born in 1964 after the family moved to Scarsdale, an affluent New York suburb.

Her husband rose to the leadership ranks of the New York Police Department, but in 1980, they moved to Minneapolis when DFL Mayor Don Fraser, seeking a reform-minded police chief, chose him to shake up the department.

Erica Bouza soon became friends with Moira Moga and Karen Hanson, local peace activists who introduced her to Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), a newly formed antiwar organization that remains active today. Bouza and Hanson frequently volunteered at a homeless shelter at St. Stephen's Catholic Church in Minneapolis, staying overnight when needed, said Hanson's daughter, Mia Hanson.

Though she did not consider herself a spokeswoman for the peace movement, Bouza became one by default. "She was a very good speaker and accepted any invitation to speak," WAMM board member Sarah Martin said.

Bouza also ran, at various times, a jewelry store in Linden Hills, featuring jewelry she had designed, and then a second shop at Calhoun Square mall. She later opened Erica's Gallery of Wearable Art in Edina, where artisans sold their creations on consignment, and had a jewelry booth at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, where she and her husband would dress in costume.

Besides her sons, Dominick of Minneapolis and Anthony of Santa Monica, Calif., Bouza is survived by four grandchildren. Plans for a public memorial were pending.

A few weeks after Bouza's first arrest, she told the Star Tribune: "I guess one of the things about me and all the other people is that we're ordinary. We're just average middle-class housewives, grandmothers, parents, wanting to do something about peace."

"Look," she added, "I'm married to a policeman. I don't think it's really right to break the law. But sometimes, under certain circumstances, you have to. And whatever the consequences are, I'm willing to accept."

Staff librarian John Wareham did research for this article.