The namesake of the Florida high school that was the site of the nation's most recent mass shooting was a Minneapolis native born on April 7, 1890.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas was a progressive activist and journalist best known as a crusader for conservation of the Florida Everglades late into her life. Her signature work, "The Everglades: River of Grass," was published in 1947 and is credited with changing public opinion of the land from a swamp to be drained to a preserve worthy of parklands protection.
At the time of her death, an obituary in the New York Times said her environmentalism was evident when at age 5 she cried when her father read her Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Song of Hiawatha," which was set on the shores of Lake Superior. She sobbed at the part where the young man commands a birch tree to give up its bark so he can build a canoe, the Times article said.
She was the only child of Frank Bryant Stoneman, an entrepreneur, and Lillian Trefethen, a concert violinist.
When she was 6, her parents separated and Stoneman Douglas moved to Massachusetts with her mother. She earned a B.A. in English from Wellesley College in 1912, the same year her mother died of cancer. After the end of her own marriage, Stoneman Douglas followed her father to south Florida, taking a position at the newspaper he published. It eventually became the Miami Herald.
Her life's work, celebrated and recognized by presidents and governors, is connected to south Florida and the Everglades with little evidence she maintained ties to Minnesota beyond her early childhood.
But her father grew up here.
In her biography of her father, Stoneman Douglas said he moved as a boy to St. Anthony with her grandfather, who had been a surgeon in the Civil War. The family found a community of Quaker friends in the small town, of which Stoneman Douglas wrote, "It may have been a 'frontier town,' but there was strict tradition to guide him, the tradition of 'Yea and nay,' the tradition of plain living and clear and independent thinking, and there were family stories to point up the stiff-backed breed. They may have been plain people but they were colorful."
She talked about her father enduring 40-below temperatures when he taught school, attended the University of Minnesota and Carleton College in Northfield where he was a classmate of economist Thorstein Veblen, his daughter wrote after his death.
Stoneman Douglas died in May 1998 in Miami at age 108.
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747