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Warrior spirit



Reaction was swift, intense, heart-rending and ultimately inspiring when word spread through Michigan’s environmental community that Ann Arbor activist Mary Beth Doyle is dead.

Doyle, 43, died Saturday following a car accident in Lenawee County.

She worked at the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor and served on the board of the Michigan Environmental Council, a coalition of environmental and health groups.

When notice of her death appeared on an online list-serve dedicated to Michigan environmental issues, reactions quickly flooded in.

“What terrible news this is,” writes Rita Jack, a water quality specialist with the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club. “The earth has lost a warrior.”

The Sierra Club’s Clair O’Leary recalled seeing Doyle in action a few years back during a symposium on genetically engineered foods held at the University of Michigan. Determined to provide balance to a program dominated by what O’Leary describes as “pro-biotech heavyweights,” Doyle held sway from the audience, directly addressing the gathering from the floor.

“She was so eloquent, so smart and so empathetic,” O’Leary says, noting that Doyle won over the audience with a “solid and convincing slam-dunk argument.”

“I was new to activism that day,” O’Leary writes. “Mary Beth showed me what kind of activist I want to be. It’s a nice goal to keep stretching toward.”

Judging from the reaction to her death, Doyle’s most important legacy won’t be the environmental victories she achieved, but the inspiration she provided others.

There can be no better testament to time well spent on this planet than that.

A memorial service was scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17, in the Ann Arbor Unitarian Church, 4001 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd. A wake will follow at Hathaway’s Hideaway, on Washington Street between Main and Ashley, in downtown Ann Arbor.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact this column at 313-202-8004 or

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