Ellen Straus

February 21, 1927 - November 30, 2002



The Environmental Forum of Marin
In Memorium by Polly Smith (Class 1)

Forum members are greatly saddened by the death of Ellen Straus, who died of cancer on November 30. Everyone who has taken the EFM Training, including Class XXX on October 1st this year, vividly remembers Agriculture Day where the class went on a tour of the Straus Dairy Ranch for one of the best experiences of the whole program.

Ellen is as near as it comes to being irreplaceable. She was the matriarch of a pioneering organic dairy family in West Marin, and with Phyllis Faber - another Forum stalwart - a co-founder of MALT (Marin Agriculture Land Trust) to preserve farmland in West Marin. Few have done more to preserve West Marin as we know it today. Ellen received several awards for her tireless service and accomplishments. She was admitted to the Marin Hall of Fame in 1996; presented the Steward of the Land Award in 1998 by the American Farmland Trust in Washington, D.C.; and was a "Point of Light" winner, in 2001, from the White House in honor of her volunteer activities.

For her many Forum friends who mourn her passing, Ellen will be remembered for her gracious hospitality, her common sense idealism and fortitude. In her own words, she once said..."The task of planning for the future is formidable. We need to use all our collective wisdom to achieve our goals. We need to form alliances with each other to move forward and work together; government, environmental, rural and urban communities, farmers, ranchers, businesses, entrepreneurs, artists, everyone..." We hear you, Ellen.