Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Mary Beth Doyle Obituary

16. November 2004 • MarkDilley
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via Mlive


Doyle, Mary Beth Ann Arbor, MI Age 43, died in a tragic car accident on November 13, 2004. Mary Beth was a leading environmentalist; a beloved sister, daughter, friend, and colleague; and a joyous presence on the dance floor, in a music hall, and at environmental demonstrations.

Mary Beth was widely recognized as one of Michigan’s most prominent environmental advocates. Her professional career included positions with the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, where she directed a canvass office, and the Ecology Center, where she worked for the past 12 years, most recently as its Environmental Health Campaign Director.

She worked with dozens of local communities throughout Michigan to help them address toxic pollution problems. Among the most notable in stances, she was a leader of a successful campaign to shut the Henry Ford Hospital incinerat or in Detroit, a source of air toxics to the community. She worked with residents in Hamtramck to shut a troubled, dirty and polluting commercial incinerator. In Romulus, she helped the local residents fight establishment of a toxic waste injection well. And she was a leader of the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, a Detroit-based organization which campaigns for environmental justice. Mary Beth was a leading voice for stronger environmental health protections in Michigan.

Most recently, she had been working to enact legislation to ban brominated flame retardants neurotoxins found in common consumer products, now discovered to be building up in the environment and our bodies that just last Wednesday passed the full Senate and is expected to be passed by the House and signed by the Governor. She was instrumental in the state environmental community’s develop ment of the Don’t Trash Michigan campaign, which earlier this year won passage of legislation to regulate out-of- state waste. In 1995, Mary Beth helped organize one of the country’s first conferences about endocrine disrupting chemicals. In 1999, she persuaded the first retailer in the country to agree to stop selling children’s chew toys made from toxic poly vinyl chloride. She worked with health-impacted groups, including the Endometriosis Association, the Learning Disabilities Association, the Breast Cancer Fund, and others on the environmental causes of disability and illness. She was a leader in national and international coalitions including Health Care Without Harm, Be Safe Coalition, Coming Clean Coalition, Stop Dioxin Campaign, and several others designed to protect people from toxic substances. She worked on campaigns across the country with communities fighting polluting incinerators, and on a nationwide campaign to develop uniform standards for alternative treat ment technologies.

Finally, she was a major figure in environmental issues in her adopted home town of Ann Arbor. In 1999, she led the grassroots portion of the successful People for Parks campaign to pass a citizen-initiated millage proposal for parkland acquisition the program which was later expanded into the City’s Parks and Greenbelt Program. She helped pass a ban on mercury thermometers in Ann Arbor at the time, the third in the country – and then the successful statewide ban, which has prevented mercury from contaminating Great Lakes fish, and the environment. Mary Beth served as a member of the Ann Arbor Environmental Commission, the Board of Directors of the Michigan Environmental Council, two international work groups, and many other bodies. She held a Masters of Public Health Degree from the University of Michigan. She is widely known and respected by policy makers and regulators in Michigan, as well as activists and community leaders throughout the country. At the same time, she never took anything or any one too seriously, and occasionally performed as a giant rain drop in skits done in area schools to teach kids about water quality and conservation.

Mary Beth is equally famous in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area because of her contagious, positive, dynamic personality. Among her circle of friends are musicians, artisans, professionals, and regular folks of every persuasion who have all enjoyed the best conversations and dancing of their lives be cause they shared them with Mary Beth. Her personal hobbies were also numerous, and included kayaking, cross coun try skiing, swing, tap, and rock- and-roll dancing, cribbage, and gardening. Whatever she devoted herself to, she shared with the rest of us in such a way to make us happier people. Her jokes were better because no one got hurt. While we grieve our tremendous loss, we are grateful for her joy and light, and for her work to make the world better.

A memorial service will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 4001 Ann Arbor Saline Road, 1:00 PM Wednesday, November 17. A reception will follow. She is survived by her brothers Michael and John of New Jersey and Virginia; respectively, her sister Marnie of New Jersey; and her beloved David Keeney of Manchester, MI. The family requests that donations intended to memorialize and continue Mary Beth’s work be sent to the Ecology Center at 117 N. Division, Ann Arbor, MI 48104.

>Arbor Update: Memorial Service and Fund
>Arbor Update: Mary Beth Doyle was passionate about the environment
>Arbor Update: Tragic News



  1. I added the whole obituary here because of the formatting issues at Mlive.
       —Mark    Nov. 16 '04 - 03:20PM    #