Environmental Writer Barbara J. Tufty, 84
Tuesday, September 2, 2008; B06
Barbara J. Tufty, 84, an author, environmentalist and science journalist who in books and countless articles sought to give voice to nature, died after a heart attack July 30 at Sibley Memorial Hospital. She was a Washington resident.
The author of five books, including a guide to local wildflowers, Mrs. Tufty had a decades-long association with the Science Newsletter, a Scripps Howard News Service publication that supplied science stories to daily newspapers nationwide. For more than a decade, she also was conservation editor for the Audubon Naturalist Society and an editor and writer with the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences.
For 20 years, Mrs. Tufty, who had lived with her family in the District's Chevy Chase neighborhood since the early 1960s, owned a cabin on the Cacapon River in West Virginia with her husband. In the early 1990s, she helped form the conservation group Friends of the Cacapon River to protect the waterway, which is threatened by mining and development.
"Although I have traveled and lived in many places in the world -- France, England, India, Africa -- I feel most at home along the Cacapon River," she wrote. "I fell in love with it the first time I saw it, and I never tire of looking at it in all its changing moods."
At the time of her death, she was studying the environmental impact of proposed oil shale mining operations near the river and helping to complete a University of West Virginia survey of local residents and their views on conservation. She was also writing "A Book of All Seasons: The Cacapon River Book," about plants and wildlife.
Barbara Jean Taeusch was born Dec. 28, 1923, in Iowa City. She came to Washington with her family in 1937 and graduated in 1941 from Sidwell Friends School.
After attending Vassar College, she transferred to Duke University, where she completed her studies in 1945. Her travels began soon after, beginning with stints in New York and Paris. Her soon-to-be husband talked his way onto a pilot boat in New York so that he could surprise her on her return from Paris aboard the Mauretania. They married and began a life of travel that took them to France, Africa and India. While in Bombay, she organized the 2,500 books of the Bombay Natural History Society.
Mrs. Tufty was a member of Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda.
She is survived by her husband of 60 years, Hal Tufty of Washington; three children, Christopher Tufty of Los Angeles, Steven Tufty of Portland, Ore., and Karen Tufty Wisniewski of Alfred, N.Y.; and four grandchildren.
-- Patricia Sullivan
Barbara Tufty worked to protect West Virginia's Cacapon River from mining and development. (Family Photo)