UA Journey

Margaret Murie

Graduation from the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines in 1924. Photo: Murie Collection

This article appeared in the Jan. 1, 1983 issue of The Oregonian. Story by Tad Bartimus of the Associated Press

MOOSE, Wyo.—In a mellow log cabin, beside the rippling waters of the Snake River, in the shadow of the majestic Teton Mountains, behind a curtain of quaking aspens, lives one of America's national treasures.

She is a woman governed by curiosity, a mother of this nation's conservation movement, a scholar and a cookie baker, a confidante of congressmen and a connoisseur of swimming holes, a magnet for youth and an example of aging grace.

Mardy Murie is 80 years old. She has outlived her famous biologist husband, Olaus Murie, by two decades. She says she misses her companion of 36 years every waking moment and often in her dreams.

Since his death in 1963, she has joined in battles to save America's dwindling wilderness. Often she has stood alone.

"To live a full life, you must have something beyond your household, beyond your family, to broaden your existence," says Margaret E. Murie, widow, mother of three, grandmother of 10, great grandmother of two.
 

Olaus, Margaret and Martin Murie visit with Jess Rust, an old family friend. Photo: UAF Rasmuson Library, Otto Geist Collection

A simple cabinet in her dining room provides testimony to her involvement in worldly affairs far removed from her warm, inviting home. There's her honorary Ranger certificate from the National Park Service. Two National Audubon Society medals grace the case, one for her and one for Olaus. There's a copy of the Alaska Lands Bill, autographed by President Carter. An Izaak Walton Award and John Muir Award offer further evidence of the Muries' dedication to preservation of the environment.

Her books and articles have been read by three generations, and through her support of the Tetons Science School, she is working to influence another generation to respect and care for the outdoors. She also serves on the council of the Wilderness Society, which her husband led first as director and later as its president. Throughout his 17-year affiliation with the society, Mrs. Murie served him as secretary.

Now she spends more than half her time giving speeches on behalf of conservation causes. The demand for her presence continually surprises her. In a talk to a group of National Park Superintendents, she told them:

Mardy Murie in traditional Alaska Native clothing holding fish. Photo: Murie Collection

"I was a little shocked when I looked on your program and saw that I had suddenly become a philosopher...I think most of my philosophy could be expressed in a very few words that were found on an old tombstone in Cumberland, England. Olaus put them on a plaque . . . hanging over our mantlepiece:

"'The wonder of the world, the beauty and the power, the shapes of things, their colours, lights and shades—these I saw. Look ye also while life lasts.'"

Uncomfortable with fuss and fanfare, Murie says that for years "all that mattered for me was that Olaus knew what I contributed. I managed the money, I bought most of his clothes. In our work it was I who remembered the names of people. Olaus remembered the names of the birds and mammals."


Part 2

Margaret Murie is also mentioned in this article:

Class of 2005 - following in the footsteps of John S. Shanly

Links:

The Murie Center

Margaret Murie died in her home October 19, 2003. She was 101 years old. Margaret Murie's obituary

1998 Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to Margaret Murie

1998 Robert Marshall Award Winner

2000 Wyoming Citizen on the Century

The Wilderness Society, an article about Mardy Murie.

Recipient of the State of Washington Governor's Writers' Day Award for Island Between

Received Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Alaska for her oustanding contribution to the life and literature of the Northland.

Books/Video:

Murie, Margaret. Two in the Far North. 1962. Reissued by Don Schackleford 1997. Alaska Northwest Books, AK. ISBN: 088240489X

Bryant, Jennifer & Castro, Antonio. Margaret Murie: A Wilderness Life. Twentyfirst Century Books, NY. 1993. ISBN: 0805022201

Arctic Dance - The Mardy Murie Story. Arctic Dance is a documentary film, narrated by Harrison Ford, and a non-fiction book by Bonnie Kreps, written Charles Craighead which celebrates the life and times of Margaret E. Murie, the mother of the American conservation movement.

UAF Scholarships: (Olas Murie Caribou Fellowship) Dr. David Klein established this scholarship to recognize academically excellent graduate students at UAF whose thesis projects have their major focus on the biology, ecology or management of caribou.

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