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News Room

Volume 34, Issue 1, Winter 2015

Remembering BCI’s First Lady

On Oct. 21, 2014, Marion Chester Read, longtime friend of Bat Conservation International, passed away—and we choose to imagine she has resumed the adventurous journey she shared with her husband, Verne, who passed away in November of 2012.

Every conservation group needs friends like Verne and Marion Read, but few are fortunate enough to have such indispensable supporters. It is hard to imagine BCI’s 32 years of success without the Reads. “They listened when no one else heard,” says BCI’s Founder Merlin Tuttle.

For BCI and bats, Marion Read earned something of a “first lady” status.

She sent BCI its first donation, ever. When Verne served as Chairman of the Board for BCI, she was at his side, working to build our conservation organization on a global scale. Marion even joined the team that traveled to American Samoa on a mission to address the decline of flying foxes—an effort that resulted in the creation of the National Park of American Samoa in 1988.

“Marion passionately pursued perfection in all she did. Never personally extravagant, she invested generously in her friends and in the causes she believed in, from girl scouts to bats,” Tuttle adds. “She and her husband, Verne, were vital partners in the founding of BCI, enthusiastically providing hands-on participation in gaining a national park and in protecting countless millions of bats worldwide.”

From Wisconsin to Thailand, Central America to the South Pacific, Marion was a leader in bat conservation. The staff and board of BCI join Marion’s four children, twelve grandchildren and one great-grandchild in celebrating the passing of a great matriarch.


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