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Thread: Remembering Sylvia McLaughlin

  1. #1
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    Remembering Sylvia McLaughlin



    IF you enjoy wide opens spaces, clean water and sailing on San Francisco Bay, You owe a debt of gratitude to Sylvia McLaughlin, the leader of a trio of unassuming ladies from the Berkeley Hills who were determined not to sit back and watch the San Francisco Bay be landfilled into non existence and started the modern environmental movement. If you have not seen the Public Television broadcast of the Herculean effort to reverse the course of destruction that was en route, you can watch it in segments Here

    Sylvia McLaughlin, an environmental trailblazer and longtime leader of the Bay Area’s environmental community who co-founded Save the Bay and served on the boards of the National Audubon Society, East Bay Conservation Corps, Save the Redwoods League, Citizens for East Shore Parks, Trust for Public Land, and Greenbelt Alliance, died Tuesday at her Berkeley home. She was 99.

    “Words are hardly adequate to convey [McLaughlin’s] profound influence on protecting the environment, restraining runaway development around the bay, and providing a powerful role model for those whose power is based not on wealth or inside political connections but on determination and a just cause,” said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates in a statement. “If there were a Mount Rushmore of Bay Area environmentalists, Sylvia should be there.”

    In 1961, McLaughlin, along with her two friends, Kay Kerr and Esther Gulick, founded Save the Bay, an influential environmental organization that helped ensure San Francisco Bay would not be filled in by development. Save the Bay also pushed for the creation of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, a public agency that manages the bay and coastal zones.

    McLaughlin’s tireless environmental advocacy also was pivotal in the creation of shoreline parks around the bay, including McLaughlin Eastshore State Park, named in her honor.

    A memorial service is planned for Tuesday, February 2 at 4 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley.

    Save The Bay is inviting people to share memories and condolences on its website: SaveSFbay.org/rememberingSylvia.

    The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, gifts in honor of Sylvia McLaughlin be made to Save The Bay (SaveSFbay.org/sylvia) or Citizens for Eastshore Parks (EastshorePark.org).
    East Bay Express


    BERKELEY -- Sylvia McLaughlin feared in the early 1960s that San Francisco Bay might become little more than a river to the Golden Gate.

    Developers were filling it for land to make condos, offices and garbage dumps, and those landfills often glowed orange at night with trash fires.

    Spurred to act, McLaughlin and two East Bay friends launched a pioneering environmental movement that would protect the Bay, provide public access to the shoreline, and help awaken conservation movements across urban America.

    McLaughlin, the last living founder of Save the Bay, died Tuesday at her Berkeley home. She was 99.

    "We have a cleaner, healthier and more vibrant Bay because of Sylvia's efforts," said David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay.


    "This is a national treasure, and yet we're losing it," she told this newspaper in 2005.

    More recently, state and federal government have invested hundreds of millions of dollars restoring Bay wetlands important to protecting water quality and providing habitat for fish and wildlife.

    But it was an uphill -- if not unlikely -- campaign for McLaughlin and her friends Kay Kerr and Esther Gulick from the time when the shoreline and shallow water areas were considered low-lying swamps worthy of dumping trash. Environmental groups were focused on protecting places like the Grand Canyon and the California redwoods.



    "Before Sylvia and Kay and Esther, the environmental movement was all about protecting wilderness," said Will Travis, the former executive director for the Bay Conservation and Development Commission. "This was the first regional initiative in an urban area. They brought the environmental ethic into people's backyards."

    McLaughlin, the wife of a mining company executive on the UC Board of Regents, used her charm, passion and determination -- and tea parties -- to make her case to protect the Bay.

    "She had this power of conviction but she expressed it in such a gracious way that you felt you would disappoint her if you didn't do what she wanted," Travis recalled.

    He said she once had tea with a with millionaire developer and influenced him not to chop down part of San Bruno Mountain to fill part of the Bay.

    In January 2007 when she was in her late 80s, McLaughlin climbed a tree in a UC Berkeley oak grove to join tree sitters in an effort to save three dozen trees.

    McLaughlin had many environmental causes. She served on the boards of the National Audubon Society, Citizens for East Shore Parks, Save the Redwoods League, the Trust for Public Lands, Greenbelt Alliance and East Bay Conservation Corps. The McLaughlin Eastshore State Park was named after her by the East Bay Regional Park District.

    McLaughlin as born Dec. 24, 1916, in Denver. Her father, George Cranmer, was the city official responsible for creating the Red Rocks Theatre, a venue for popular music and cultural events. Her mother, Jean Cranmer, was a violinist.

    After graduating from Vassar College in 1939, she married Donald McLaughlin, president of the Homestake Mining Co. and moved with him to Berkeley in 1948. He was later to become a member of the UC Board of Regents.

    A memorial for McLaughlin will be held 4 p.m. Feb. 2 at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way in Berkeley.


    Mercury News


    Save The Bay is deeply saddened at the news that the organization’s last living founder, Sylvia McLaughlin, passed away at her home in Berkeley on Tuesday January 19, 2016 at the age of 99. Sylvia McLaughlin’s commitment to saving the San Francisco Bay created a lasting legacy for the region and the environmental movement.

    “Sylvia and her friends just wanted to stop the Bay from being destroyed. They were so successful they launched the modern grassroots environmental movement in the Bay Area,” said Save The Bay Executive Director David Lewis. “We have a cleaner, healthier and more vibrant Bay because of Sylvia’s efforts. Her drive, determination and spark will remain an inspiration to us all.”

    “Words are hardly adequate to convey Sylvia’s profound influence on protecting the environment, restraining runaway development around the Bay and providing a powerful role model for those who whose power is based not on wealth or inside political connections but on determination and a just cause,” said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates.

    A long, full life

    Sylvia McLaughlin was born December 24, 1916 in Denver, Colorado, the third of four children and the only daughter of George E. Cranmer and Jean Chappell Cranmer. Her father was the city official responsible for creating Red Rocks Theater and Winter Park, her mother a trained violinist and patron of classical music. Their house was surrounded by open prairie and commanded a view of the Rockies. She enjoyed horseback riding, skiing, and mountain climbing wtih her brothers. After her graduation from Vassar College in 1939, she returned to Denver and the family home.

    Sylvia married Donald H. McLaughlin, President of Homestake Mining Company, in 1948 and moved in with him and his mother in Berkeley, California. Don had two grown sons from his first marriage, and Sylvia’s first step-grandchild arrived before her own two children. In the early years of her marriage she was active in civic and charitable activities alongside her supportive role as the wife of a mining executive and UC Regent.

    Sylvia forms Save The Bay, shapes Bay Area environmental movement

    Save The Bay FoundersIn 1961, Sylvia and her two friends, Kay Kerr and Esther Gulick, formed Save San Francisco Bay Association (now Save The Bay), spurred into action by the City of Berkeley’s plan to fill in 2,000 acres of San Francisco Bay and the fear that the Bay could become a river-like shipping channel if all the region’s bay fill plans moved ahead. Appalled that the filling of their beautiful natural treasure was considered “progress” and that there was very little public access to the Bay, the three women quickly mobilized their communities.

    Establishing BCDC With Save The Bay, Sylvia helped build and lead a massive citizens’ movement that won a moratorium on landfill in the Bay and then a permanent state agency to regulate filling and shoreline development, the Bay Conservation & Development Commission (BCDC). BCDC was the first agency of its kind, and is the model for coastal zone management world-wide. Sylvia helped ring the Bay with a necklace of shoreline parks, including McLaughlin Eastshore State Park on the very shoreline that she stopped Berkeley from filling, which was renamed in her honor in 2012. Public access to the Bay – one of the many causes she championed – has grown from only six miles in 1960 to hundreds of miles today.

    A lifetime of conservation

    Over the course of her career, Sylvia occupied several appointed positions – including seats on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors Advisory Planning Commission and on the Berkeley City Council Waterfront Advisory Committee. She sat on Save The Bay’s board of directors for almost 40 years, and on the board of directors for the National Audubon Society, East Bay Conservation Corps, Save the Redwoods League, Citizens for East Shore Parks, Trust for Public Land, Greenbelt Alliance, and many others.

    In addition to Save The Bay, she co-founded Urban Care, a Berkeley group, and Citizens for East Shore Parks.

    Even in her nineties, Sylvia refused to retire, remaining an active and articulate advocate for the Bay and open recreational spaces – with a busy schedule of speaking engagements, board of director duties, and community meetings. At 93, she captivated an audience of Bay scientists, stewards and supporters at a premier screening of Saving the Bay – a documentary film chronicling the history of San Francisco Bay and the unprecedented work Sylvia did to save it. In 2012, the East Bay Regional Parks officially named McLaughlin Eastshore State Park in honor of Sylvia’s work to preserve the Berkeley shoreline.

    Sylvia is survived by her children, Jeanie Shaterian and George C. McLaughlin; her stepson, Donald H. McLaughlin, Jr.; four grandchildren and six step-grandchildren.

    “Her work and achievements are unparalleled and serve as inspiration to every individual or group working to protect and conserve the natural beauty and resources in the region and beyond,” Lewis said.

    San Francisco Bay would not be what it is today without the work of Sylvia McLaughlin and we are humbled to carry on the legacy of her commitment to San Francisco Bay. May her drive, determination and spark remain an inspiration to us all to improve our region for future generations.

    A public memorial service will be held Tuesday, February 2, 4:00 pm, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley. We also will host a special event in honor of Sylvia’s life in the coming months, and will share more information as the details come together.
    Save The Bay
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  2. #2
    A champion among champions. A true giant slayer.

    If Sylvia, Kay and Ester could stop developers from filling in San Francisco Bay, stopping one greedy developer from destroying an East Bay institution should be easily doable.

  3. #3
    Thank you Sylvia

  4. #4
    A giant.... proof that with guts and determination, money is NOT the only thing that matters. Bless you, Sylvia.

  5. #5
    Little Women spank big boys!

    Gotta love it!

  6. #6
    J/92 Ragtime!
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    THIS is what you do with Alameda Point and Treasure Island (both city-owned). Return them to the Bay.

    A couple jackhammers and about 1,000 years ought to do it . . .

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