Sunday, December 7, 2008

Marion Stoddard of Groton, MA

I'm starting this pretty late at night, so it will probably just be a first installment.
I first heard of Marion Stoddard when I was living in Groton, MA about 20 years ago. I'd just joined the Nashua River Watershed Association (NRWA) because I was fascinated by the turtles that crossed through my yard on the way to the swamp across the street. The NRWA was hosting a speaker on the types, habits, and lives of indigenous turtles.
Of course, it turns out that my memory of the life of Marion Stoddard, isn't especially accurate. I'll tell you my impressions before I tell you the actual facts of her accomplishments.
I heard that at one time, back in the sixties and seventies, the Nashua River was dead. It actually ran in different, blue, and green, depending on what dyes were being used in the factories upstream. There were no fish, no life, and the river stank so badly that there were actually signs warning motorists of the horrible smell along Route 119.
Marion Stoddard had just moved to Groton with her family and lived by the banks of the river.
Marion decided that, if it took her the rest of her life, she was going to bring that river back to life. She organized people, found grant money, and built the organization:
She also saw the river cleaned up. Today, aged 80, she still plays an active role in NWRA and enjoys kayaking in the Nashua's clean clear waters.

My impression was that she took up this cause in mid-life, after her children were grown. I understood that it became her "raison d'Etre," her legacy.
In fact, Marion Stoddard's children were still quite young when she began her quest forty-five years ago.
Well, it's getting late and my Internet connection seems to be getting slower. Here's the link: I think she was in her mid 30's when she began her campaign to save the river. Not nearly middle age by today's standards.
I'll write more about her tomorrow night. Good night!

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