Margaret Murie: First woman to graduate from Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines
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.
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:
"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."
Margaret Murie is also mentioned in this article:
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 outstanding contribution to the life and literature of the Northland.
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: (Olaus 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.