David Marrack, a long-time environmental activist and medical
doctor, recently passed away. I met David in the late 1970’s when he
was active with the Houston Audubon Society (HAS). David came from
England and as a medical doctor was very concerned about the health
effects that air pollution had on people. David developed air as a
specialty in the late 1980’s and 1990’s and in particular studied and
became an “expert” on incineration and small particulate air pollution.
David became such a self-taught expert that he wrote and presented
papers at annual Air and Waste Management Association meetings.
But David was a lot more than an expert in air pollution. When I met
David, he and Kitty Orr, formed the bulwark of the conservation team at
the HAS. I remember going to many evening meetings and discussing what
HAS and Sierra Club should say about various conservation issues. David
also participated in the campaign to save Armand Bayou, national forest
protection, coastal and marine protection, and many other causes.
David was also a dam good birder and enjoyed nothing more than
getting out into Nature and taking a measure of himself while enjoying
the critters that he loved. David, with help from others, planted Live
Oaks on Galveston Island in an attempt to get a new motte growing so
birds would have some place to rest after they flew across the Gulf of
Mexico. David was a long-term thinker, a hard worker, and loved to
exhort others to do the same.
The thing I admired and respected David most for was his righteous
anger and outrage against those who despoiled the environment and
endangered people. It was classic David to point his finger at industry
representatives and bureaucrats and admonish them to “do the right
thing.” At his heart, even though David knew Nature was taking hits, he
was an optimist who never gave up.
David never stopped learning and had a thirst for knowledge that was
a hundred miles wide. He called me on many occasions and asked
questions that unfortunately I often did not know. His humor could be
wicked and it was just plain fun to ride with him anywhere.
We can never replace an environmental "warrior" like David. However,
we can remember him and pass down his "never give-up" attitude to
others. David, give them hell in heaven. They need it and you are the
guy to do it!