Remembering Maxine McCloskey: Our Earth Is a Better Place for Her Having Worked So Tirelessly

By Palmer, Mark J. | Earth Island Journal, Autumn 2006 | Go to article overview

Remembering Maxine McCloskey: Our Earth Is a Better Place for Her Having Worked So Tirelessly


Palmer, Mark J., Earth Island Journal


Maxine McCloskey, a long-time whale advocate and environmental leader, has died in Portland, OR. Married to Michael McCloskey, former executive director and later chairman of the Sierra Club, Maxine worked on a tremendous variety of environmental issues for many years, mostly as an unpaid volunteer, including editing some of the Sierra Club's proceedings from the Wilderness Conferences held in the 1960s.

Maxine was active very early on whale issues, helping Joan McIntyre set up Project Jonah. Maxine later joined with Ronn Storo-Patterson, Tom Johnson, and others to establish the Whale Center in Oakland, California, which she ran for many years in a former candy shop on Piedmont Avenue. Much of the Whale Center's legacy is still with us--the Whalebus was started by the Whale Center to bring an educational program to schools in the Bay Area. It is still going strong now as a project of the Marine Mammal Center in Marin County. Maxine and the Whale Center made an active presence at International Whaling Commission meetings, helping establish the international moratorium on commercial whaling approved in 1982. Maxine also helped establish the then-named Point Reyes-Farallones National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of San Francisco, talking directly with Secretary of Interior Cecil Andrus at the end of the Carter administration. Andrus saw that the sanctuary was established shortly before the Reagan administration took control of the White House in 1980. I am forever grateful to Maxine for asking me to head the Whale Center, which I did for five years in the 1980s.

As a volunteer, Maxine represented the Sierra Club on numerous whale issues, through the Sierra Club's National Coastal Committee. …

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