It is with my deepest regret to mention that my long-time friend and CCF Board of Director’s member, Margery Nicolson, passed away on April 15, 2020. This has been a harsh addition to CCF’s other friends passing away in 2020 and even more difficult that I am not able to travel to the US to attend the memorial services honoring my dear friends this year.
I met Margery on her first trip to Namibia in 2006 when she visited CCF with Dr. Hue Berry, one of CCF’s Scientific Advisors. As a scientists herself, she was fascinated with the work that CCF was involved in from genetics and over-all health, to the human wildlife conflict aspect and our landscape approach to cheetah conservation. I met with her again in the Los Angeles area where she lived, on my next trip to the United States. We became fast friends from her trip to Namibia and I asked her to join our CCF US Board of Directors.
For the next years, Margery was a truly dedicated board member, attending our meetings, and heading up one of our Development Committees. Her focus was on the long-term sustainability of CCF’s future. Margery also always participated in our CCF fundraisers and became a major supporter, regular challenger and contributor to CCF to help save the cheetah. Over the years, she visited CCF several more times sharing CCF with several of her other wildlife friends during her many trips to Africa.
Margery had a long career in science. She had a B.A. in Biology, a M.S. in Chemistry from Stanford University, and following a one-year fellowship in London at the Chester Beatty Institute, she got her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Baylor University School of Medicine. She did three years of post-doctoral research at California Institute of Technology, followed by 15 years as a faculty member of the University of Southern California School of Medicine, involved in both research (retroviruses) and teaching biochemistry to medical students, as well as graduate courses in virology. A second career with a biotechnology company led to 18 years working as a senior research scientist with AMGEN, helping it grow from 40 employees to 12,000, when she retired.
Besides a board member for Cheetah Conservation Fund for many years, Margery and her late husband, Iain, were committed environmentalists, supporting many environmental causes and organizations, including The Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, The Wilderness Society, The Environmental Defense Fund and The Audubon Society. Margery was a former member of the National Audubon Board of Directors and a current member of the boards of California and Alaska Audubon. One of their special interests was Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary in Nebraska, where Margery was instrumental in helping develop and fund a major Audubon Center at the Sanctuary on the Platte River in honor of her late husband Iain. She spent many weeks each March at the Center during Sandhill Crane migration, acting as a guide and general volunteer for the thousands of visitors who come to see and learn about that amazing event.
Margery Nicolson was a brave, kind, passionate champion of the wild. She was a treasured member of the CCF, and personally, she was a respected, beloved friend. We are deeply saddened by the loss and mourn her passing as a giant in the conservation world. Whether it was cheetahs, cranes or her own feline friends, Margery lovingly and without reserve cared for and protected animals that had no voice. Margery will be deeply missed, and forever remembered, with love, gratitude and hope, for the wild.