Clinton environmental activist passes

Activist poet Theresa Marie Gandhi, a strong voice on environmental causes for many years on Whidbey Island and beyond, died late Sunday, Jan. 3, friends of the family reported Monday. She was 63.

Gandhi, a Clinton resident, was born in Washington and attended the University of Washington and, later, the Evergreen State College.

In 1983, she married a relative of Mahatma Gandhi, the spiritual and political leader of India during the country’s independence movement, and the family name opened many doors to the great-grand niece-in-law of the famed Indian pacifist. She met with Pres. Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office and also frequently spoke with other national political leaders.

A primary focus for her activism was centered on the earth and the environment. Gandhi campaigned against Gov. Dixie Lee Ray after the Democratic governor gave support to the proposed installation of a Northern Tier Oil pipeline in Puget Sound.

Gandhi was also a central figure in the “no spray” efforts to limit the use of harmful herbicides on state highways and county roads a decade ago. The county stopped its spraying program.

“Teresa was the spark plug behind the campaign to end the spraying of toxic chemicals along island roads,” said close friend Marianne Edain. Memorial arrangements are pending.

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