Margaret Thomas Murie, the grandmother of the modern conservation movement, died on Oct. 19. Cause of death was not released. She was 101.
Murie grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska, and became the first woman to graduate from the state university. She married Olaus Murie in 1924, enjoyed a dog sled honeymoon, then embarked on a life of travel and environmental conservation.
Olaus’s work exploring unmapped areas and studying wildlife led the couple through Alaska and deep into the mountains of Wyoming. There they bought a dude ranch and converted it into a conservation and wilderness center.
Murie and her husband were instrumental in the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, the greatest land preservation act in U.S. history. The bill banned development in millions of acres of national forests and parks, and eventually led to the creation of the 19-million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Olaus died in 1963, just months before the passage of the Wilderness Act, but Murie attended the signing in the Rose Garden of the White House in 1964.
Murie received numerous honors, including the Audubon Medal and the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award. In 1998, President Bill Clinton presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her life story was the focus of the book, “Two in the Far North,” and the documentary, “Arctic Dance: The Mardy Murie Story.”
NPR Profile of Mardy Murie