Marvin Bresler Durning

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June 21, 1929 ~ October 16, 2013

Marvin Bresler Durning passed away on October 16, 2013 after a long struggle with Parkinson's. He leaves his wife, Jean; children, Susan, Jonathan, and Alan; and eight grandchildren.

Born in New Orleans to a working-class family, he graduated as Dartmouth's valedictorian, won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, served the U.S. Navy as a gunnery and intelligence officer, and earned a law degree from Yale. At Yale, he met and fell in love with Jean Cressey, with whom he married in 1958. In 1959, they settled in Seattle, WA and started a family.

Committed to conservation and public service, Marvin practiced law and taught at UW. In 1965, President Johnson named him Conservationist of the Year for leading a citizens' drive for land conservation. In 1977, President Carter appointed him chief of enforcement at EPA.

He left a remarkable legacy. Today, thanks in part to his efforts, many places remain natural and open to the public, such as parts of the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. He helped keep billboards off interstate highways. His EPA leadership left millions of Americans breathing cleaner air and drinking purer water. His political and legal projects brought him often to Vancouver. As lawyer for local citizens, for example, he helped protect the free-flowing Columbia River from a massive airport expansion in Portland.

After his retirement, he wrote two books: World Turned Upside Down, a history of his Naval intelligence unit, and a memoir Beyond the Baths of All the Western Stars.

Friends are invited to celebrate Marvin's life at a memorial service on October 26 at 2 p.m. at Horizon House, 900 University St., Seattle, WA 98101.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may go to Sightline Institute or Group Health Foundation.
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Published in The Columbian on Oct. 22, 2013
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