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Marjorie Spock 1904-2008

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  • DB
    There are several things in this biographical sketch I wasn t aware of - what an interesting life. Deborah ****************
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 27, 2008
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      There are several things in this biographical sketch I wasn't aware of - what an interesting life.


      Marjorie Spock died peacefully Jan. 23, 2008, at the age of 103, at
      her home in Sullivan. Marjorie Spock was born Sept. 8, 1904, in New
      Haven, Conn., the second child, and first daughter, of six children.

      The Spock family was prominent in New Haven, as her father was a
      corporate lawyer there and her older brother, Dr. Benjamin Spock, was
      later a world-renowned pediatrician, known through "The Baby Book,"
      which changed the way children were brought up and viewed, and known
      for his work against the Vietnam War. At 18, Marjorie went to
      Dornach, Switzerland, to meet and work with Rudolf Steiner, the
      founder of Anthroposophy. This had deep significance for her life,
      especially her study of the dynamics of human movement, through
      Eurythmy. After her final return to the U.S., she received her BA and
      MA degrees from Columbia University at the age of 38. During her
      studies, she began a prominent career as a teacher and the head of
      the Dalton Middle School and teacher at the Fieldston Lower School,
      both progressive schools in New York City. She also taught at The
      Rudolf Steiner School in New York City and The Waldorf School in
      Garden City, Long Island.

      With her deep understanding of nature and as an avid Bio-Dynamic
      gardener, Marjorie's work took on an added dimension when, in the
      area where she and her friend Polly Richards lived, on Long Island,
      N.Y., the government began aerial spraying of DDT against the
      perceived gypsy moth epidemic. She and Polly, who helped finance the
      legal action, brought a case with 10 other people against the United
      States government for the continued DDT spraying. Marjorie and Polly
      were formidable leaders for this commitment to the health of the
      earth. Organic, Bio-Dynamic food was a life-saving matter for Polly,
      who was in ill health. For Marjorie, the concern was for her friend's
      health, and the constitutional right as a property owner to keep her
      land, as she wanted it, free of government infringement. This team
      was brilliant, committed and erudite. According to Marjorie, the
      "government ran roughshod over anyone who got in the way of the new
      technology. They brushed us off like so many flies." The federal
      judge, appointed by President Eisenhower, threw out 72 uncontested
      admissions for the plaintiffs and denied their petitions. From the
      summer of 1957 to 1960, when the case reached the Supreme Court,
      Marjorie wrote a report to interested and influential friends of each
      day's progress in and out of court, each evening after work. Rachel
      Carson heard of this and soon got these daily briefings because she
      realized that the testimony from the experts that Marjorie had found,
      would be valuable for her own research. This case, along with a
      massive bird kill on Cape Cod, was the springboard for the writing of
      "Silent Spring." Although the trial took only 22 days, toward the
      end, Rachel Carson asked for the transcript. They became close
      collaborators and friends. Though the plaintiffs lost the case, they
      won the right to bring an injunction in court, so that prior to a
      destructive environmental event, a full and proper scientific a
      review had to be made. Marjorie always described it, saying, "We lost
      the battle but won the war." This became the germinal legal action
      for the environmental movement in the United States. There has been
      continuous interest in this case since that time. Recently, Marjorie
      was interviewed for a documentary on Rachel Carson.

      After the case, Marjorie moved to Chester, N.Y., where she farmed,
      bringing Bio-Dynamic produce to a larger public. She worked closely
      with Dr. Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, the renowned soil scientist, and
      compost and farm adviser for Bio-Dynamic movement. As a beloved
      destination since childhood, in 1965, Marjorie moved to Maine, where
      she lived and worked for the next 43 years as an inspiring teacher,
      eurythmist, author, Bio-Dynamic farmer, translator and mentor to the
      many people, young and old, who came to see her. Until last Thursday,
      she held a study group, which has been ongoing since 1965, and to
      which people came from all over the state. Visitors, from all over
      the world, and wonderful neighbors, were always heartily welcomed and
      experienced wide-ranging and deep conversations, wise counsel and

      Amongst Marjorie Spock's writings are "Teaching as a Lively Art," her
      master's thesis; "In Celebration of the Human Heart;" "Eurythmy;" "To
      Look on Earth With More Than Mortal Eyes" and "Fairy Worlds and
      Workers: A Natural History of Fairyland." The two pamphlets, "Group
      Moral Artistry I: Reflections on Community Building" and "Group Moral
      Artistry II: The Art of Goethean Conversation," have had a readership
      around the world. Her love and understanding of the mystery of
      language can be seen in her article, "A B C D E F G: The Secret Life
      of Letters."

      Surviving Marjorie Spock are several nephews, grand nieces and Mary
      Morgan, the wife of Dr. Benjamin Spock.

      In the 100th year of her life Marjorie produced, directed and
      choreographed a video about Eurythmy which was filmed at Hammond Hall
      in Winter Harbor, followed by two short training films at 101 and 102
      years of age.

      The last few years have been amongst the happiest and most
      productive, because of the loving help and care that Kim Smith gave
      Marjorie. Many around the world are grateful for this, as she was
      then able to work tirelessly for the understanding of the goodness of
      mankind and for the health of the earth.

      A funeral service was held Jan. 26, 2008, at Hammond Hall, Winter
      Harbor. On Saturday, Feb. 2, 2008, at 10:30, a Christian Community
      service, The Act of Consecration for Marjorie Spock, will be held at
      New Elm Farm, 27 Lambert Road, Freeport. (Tel: 865-4019). For those
      wishing to make donations, there are two possibilities: The
      Foundation for Human Movement Studies (supporting the mission of
      Spatial Dynamics), c/o Susan Harrington, 47 Spice Mill Road, Clifton
      Park, NY 12065, The Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association,
      25844 Butler Road, Junction City, OR 97448.
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