Shared from the 5/13/2024 Connecticut Post eEdition

Roxbury’s Margaret Miner, longtime environmentalist, dies at 86

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Family of Margaret Miner

Margaret Miner, an environmentalist and former director of the Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, in Litchfield, died May 5 at the age of 86. She's pictured here with one of her grandchildren.

ROXBURY — A longtime environmentalist and writer was remembered by her colleagues and friends as a dedicated advocate with an “incredibly inquiring mind.”

Margaret Miner died May 5 at the age of 86. Miner had been the executive director of the Rivers Alliance of Connecticut for 18 years, working to protect the state’s environment and water resources.

Nanette Falkenberg, who served with Miner on the Zoning Board of Appeals in Roxbury, said her friend was tenacious and curious.

“She had an incredibly inquiring mind,” Falkenberg said of Miner. “As a member of the ZBA, she didn’t give up; she asked questions until she got the answer she was looking for.

“As a friend, she was very well read,” Falkenberg said. “She was always a pleasure to talk to; you would always learn something new from her. She and her (late) husband, Hugh, were activists on so many levels.”

Miner, who was born in New York City in 1938, grew up in The Dakota, according to her family. She was a graduate of The Brearley School and New York University. She was married to the author Hugh Rawson, who died in 2011.

A resident of Roxbury since moving from Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1984, Miner was an active member of the community and was involved in local and international causes, according to her family.

Stuart Daly, a co-founder of the therapeutic riding program, Little Britches, called Miner a dear friend.

“She was brilliant, compassionate,” Daly said. “I’m very sad. ... She was just so special. She could be fascinated by the ants around my swimming pool, wondering where they were going, what they were doing. She observed everything around her.”

Miner’s interests were also humanitarian; she was a co-founder of Our Towns for Sar-E-Pol, which helps women and children in Afghanistan, through Save the Children.

She wrote opinion pieces on such issues as affordable housing and was a member of the Roxbury Democratic Town Committee. In recent years, Miner also took up the defense of the late actor Fredric March, a friend whose legacy she said had been unjustly maligned.

Miner received the Environmental Protection Agency Lifetime Merit Award and the first Champion of Water Award from the Connecticut Water Policy Council, among others, and in 2019 was recognized as a Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame Honoree.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., had known Miner for many years. “I first met Margaret Miner the minute I graduated college. I was 22,” Murphy said. “I was working on a Congressional campaign, and one of the candidate’s good friends was Margaret. I learned about politics from her, about how to talk to people and express concerns about a vote or a bill. ... Then I knew Margaret as an advocate, lobbying for her passions: the environment and clean water.”

If Miner had to choose between her causes and a friendship, there was no question where she stood, he said. “I was once on the wrong side of an issue with her,” Murphy recalled. “It wasn’t comfortable to be on the other side of something she was fighting for.”

Murphy credited Miner and her husband as among”two of the first four or five people who believed in me when I began my Congressional campaign.”

“One of our first meetings was at their kitchen table. They were generous, kind, original people, always themselves,” he said. “They were truly unique.”

Miner’s work with the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, now Save the Sound, should not be forgotten, Murphy said. “Look at how much cleaner Long Island Sound is, compared to 20 years ago,” he said. “That’s the work of Margaret Miner. When you’re swimming in the clean water of the Sound, thank Margaret Miner.”

Until her death, Miner served as a consultant for the Rivers Alliance, as well as on the board of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters. She was an advocate for environmental legislation, writing several pieces of testimony in the 2024 legislative session on hydro-power and state land transfers, according to her family.

Lynn Werner, executive director of the Housatonic Valley Association in Cornwall, said she was still trying to process Miner’s death.

“This is the loss of a force of nature,” Werner said. “She has been a friend of rivers and the environment since I met her; she was a fierce advocate, and a fierce friend. The magnitude of her wit and knowledge, and her language skills, helped when she wanted to make a point, especially during testimony in the state legislature.”

Previously, Miner was the executive director of the Roxbury Land Trust and vice chair of the CT Water Planning Council Advisory Group.

Miner co-wrote five dictionaries of quotations with her husband and also wrote “Allergies: The Complete Guide to Diagnosis, Treatment, and Daily Management” for Consumer Reports Books. For many years, Miner was a reporter for the Voices newspaper, covering local issues, according to her family.

At the time of her death, Miner was still serving the local ZBA, attending two Spanish classes weekly and playing poker whenever possible.

Her daughter, Catherine Rawson, remembered Miner as a “remarkable and singular person and a remarkable and singular mom.”

“I got the best of her as a parent,” she said. “She astounded me with the examples she gave, of living a good life, in ways that were extraordinary to see.”

Her daughter said Miner’s expert testimony was widely respected and often brilliant and unique. In 2024, Miner wrote a poem about her opposition to the use of pesticides called neonicotinoids, which are toxic to bees and other pollinators. “I found that poem, a few days before she died,” Rawson said. “It was written for the next legislative session, and it was brave and creative; she had the confidence to say what she wanted to say with humor. It was really good.”

In addition to her daughter, Miner is survived by her two son Nathaniel Rawson; her son-in-law, Dominic Gillen; two grandchildren, Mary Margaret Gillen and Clayton Gillen; and her nieces, nephews and other extended family members. Her son is a scuba dive instructor in Cozumel, Mexico. Her daughter is the executive director of Northwest Connecticut Land Conservancy.

She was predeceased by her father, Worthington “Tony” Miner, a television director and producer; her mother, Francis Fuller, a stage and screen actress; and her sister, Mary Elizabeth Miner, an artist, and her brother, Peter Miner, a television director and teacher.

A memorial service will be announced at a later date. Her family asked that memorial donations be made to Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, P.O. Box 1797,

Litchfield, CT 06759 or to

Connecticut League of

Conservation Voters, 553

Farmington Ave, Hartford, CT 06105.

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