Marjory Never Gave Up

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Though she left us a little over 20 years ago, on May 14, 1998; Marjory Stoneman Douglas remains a giant in our Nation’s, State’s and our community’s memory.

Of course, most of us remember her as the “Mother of the Everglades” for her activism and writings, which forced the end of the destructive draining of the Florida Everglades.  Because of her, this unique, life-supporting natural wonder has survived for all humanity to treasure and learn from.

Long before her landmark environmental achievement, she championed so many just and inspiring causes.  She was a leading suffragette and actually was first women from Florida to enlist in the Armed Services and actually served in the Red Cross during WWI.

After the War, she began writing for the Miami Herald (started by her father, Frank Stoneman).  She used her daily column (called “The Gallery”) to expose both social as well as environmental injustice.

She used her platform to focus on the need for running water and sewage treatment in the early days of what was then a burgeoning frontier outpost.  She called attention to the unequal treatment and inadequate services in what was then segregated sections our county.

She was a forceful opponent of “Slumlands” and highlighted the need for child nutrition as well.

In 1970, as a young lawyer, I met Marjory and asked her to be part of a team to get Gov. Rubin Askew and the Florida Cabinet to purchase the historic Arch Creek Natural Bridge and Hammock (135thStreet and Biscayne Blvd.) in order to save it from becoming a Chrysler Car Lot.  With Marjorie by my side, there was no way they could say no (Joni Mitchell even wrote a song about it).

On April 8, 1990, I had the humbling honor to serve as Master of Ceremonies at her 100th Birthday Celebration, rightly held at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Nature Center on Key Biscayne.

I introduced her as “a child of the 1890’s and role model for the 1990’s and beyond”.  She is exactly that –even in the wake of tragedy.

Marjorie passed in 1998 at the ever so sprite age of 108.  She had been presented with our Nation’s highest honor –the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1993.  Her incredible grit in always speaking truth to power lives on.

Her wonderful name now has become even more widely known; unfortunately, due to the unspeakable tragedy at the High School that bears her name on Valentine’s Day 2018.

She would be so proud of the student body for its outspoken idealism and persistence since that fateful day that took 17 (now 19)  young lives from us.

Her words live on. And how uncanny and relevant her words, written so long ago: “Be a nuisance when it counts. Do your part to inform and stimulate the public to join your actions. Be depressed, discouraged and disappointed at failure and the disheartening effects of ignorance, greed, corruption and bad politics – but never give up! “

Harvey Ruvin has been Clerk of the Courts in Miami Dade County since 1992.


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9 COMMENTS

  1. I am so glad that you wrote this… I too have been saddened by the knowledge that the incredible Marjory Stoneman Douglas has become known only by a tragedy which, by coincidence my granddaughter was part of having been in the lot down there. But remained quite safe at least physically. I took my daughter Eva Cuadrado Worden to see Marjorie Stoneman Douglas when she was and Coral Gables at the Wellesley yearly book for her that her alma mater had every year, knowing that hearing this incredible woman who was almost completely blind and almost completely deaf yet stood up and gave the most rousing and inspiring speech that anyone could hear. Eva was 14 and Marjory was in her 90s at the time, and signed the River of Grass book. Your article will help us remember her as the heroine that she was…

  2. Harvey Ruvin is leaving a legacy in his own right. He has, and continues, to serve with honor, decency and with a humble heart that has never changed. I, as many, share his love for MSD who endorsed my candidacy for Mayor of Dade County way back when. Her little home must be preserved and improved upon forever.

  3. Sorry, I had dictated and couldn’t swipe back to correct any errors so go ahead and do so and no need to publish this part of the comment
    Pepi Granat Cuadrado

  4. What a lovely tribute to someone be both admired and a chance to honor when she was still with us—you for her hundredth and I for her 95th I still miss her spunk and way with words.

  5. I remember Marjory Stoneman Douglas well. My family lived on Park Ave. in Coconut Grove, and Ms. Douglas lived down the street, off Douglas Road. My sister, Frances, used to go to her home and read to her. That was over 50 years ago.

  6. Thankyou so much Mr. Ruvin. You are an inspiration and we much appreciate your activism. Thanks for this great piece about Ms Douglas. She is a national treasure. The columns she wrote in the Miami Herald are worth reading along with her poetry which can be read in the book THE WIDE BRIM a very good look at her insight about the destruction we were doing to the Everglades and other social issues. She will always be one of my heroes. Never give up!

  7. Thank you, Harvey Rubin for this lovely tribute to a great woman! As a retired teacher from Avocado Elementary School in Homestead, right on the edge of the Everglades, it warms my heart to remember the book featuring our heroine, and the impact her work had on our students and on me as a transplant from Baltimore City. I agree that you have quite a legacy if your own to leave as force for social justice, and it is so wonderful to have lived in the same lifetime as you and Marjory Stoneman Douglass.

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