Marjorie Arundel, 104; Conservationist Fought Illegal Bulb Harvesting

By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 22, 2006

Marjorie S. Arundel, 104, who became active in flora and fauna conservation efforts worldwide and was an effective advocate of ending an illegal harvesting of bulbs in Asia Minor, died Dec. 18 at her home in The Plains, a Fauquier County town near Warrenton. The cause of death was listed as inanition, or marked weakness.

Mrs. Arundel and her husband, a Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. executive, settled in the late 1940s on Wildcat Mountain Farm, a 600-acre property in The Plains. She cultivated gardens of roses; one featuring herbs popular in Medieval times; and another using plants mentioned in the Bible.

Mrs. Arundel, the daughter of professional gardeners, became an adviser to the Garden Club of America and the World Wildlife Fund, through which she championed larger conservation efforts.

In the early 1980s, she was particularly concerned with the illegal trade of bulbs such as cyclamens. "People were digging plants up on hillsides in Turkey and smuggled them into Holland and reexported them labeled as bulbs that had been cultivated in legitimate growers' places," said Kathryn S. Fuller, a former president of the World Wildlife Fund.

Mrs. Arundel worked to bring government and industry oversight to the bulb trade, traveling several times to the Netherlands and lobbying growers and Dutch federal officials. "Through her effort, all major growers took on their responsibilities very seriously," said Fuller, board chairman of the Ford Foundation.

Mrs. Arundel received the Order of the Golden Ark, established by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and among the highest honors in international conservation.

The daughter of English immigrants, Marjorie Sale Arundel was born in Mason City, Iowa, and grew up next door to Meredith Willson, composer of musicals including "The Music Man."

After attending Grinnell College in Iowa, she was briefly a reporter in Chicago and met her husband, Russell M. Arundel, who was then a journalist. She settled in the Washington area in the mid-1930s.

In the 1960s, she and her husband donated much of their property to the Nature Conservancy. He died in 1978.

Survivors include two children, community newspaper publisher Arthur "Nick" Arundel of The Plains, and Jocelyn A. Sladen of Warrenton; eight grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

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