Alaska News

Louise Murie, last of original Alaska conservation family, has passed

According to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Louise Murie passed away in Jackson Hole, Wyo., on Tuesday at the age of 100.

In 2011, she disclosed her own secret for longevity to a close friend in Jackson Hole: "You should devote yourself to helping other people as much as you can. That's what we're here for, I think."

Louise "Weezy" Gillette Murie MacLeod, born in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1912 was the last living member of a family foursome whose cataloging of plants and animals in Denali National Park drew early attention to Alaska's wilderness.

The four members of the Murie family, Louise and her husband Adolph, Olaus and his wife Mardy (also Louise's half-sister), were arguably the most important figures in Alaska's early wilderness and conservation movement. In addition to scientific contributions that increased worldwide awareness of Alaska's natural world, the Muries were among the people most responsible for creating the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Adolph conducted pioneering studies of Denali's animals -- bears and wolves in particular -- for the National Park Service, basing his work on the idea that studying animals means studying whole ecosystems, not species in isolation. While Adolph studied Denali's wildlife, Louise, who had studied Botany at the University of Michigan, catalogued its plants and wildflowers.

With Adolph's help, she assembled an illustrated manuscript detailing 100 plants and flowers from Denali in the 1950s and 1960's, but it was never published. Efforts are under way to publish it posthumously.

Read much more from the News-Miner, here, from the Jackson Hole News & Guide, here.

Craig Medred

Craig Medred is a former writer for the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2015.