We Remember Ortt as Recycling and Environmental Champion

We Remember Ortt as Recycling and Environmental Champion

Marilyn Ortt was an activist and environmentalist that sought to educate and improve conditions in Southeast Ohio. She passed away May 25, 2014 at age 78, but her work and legacy continues on in organizations, charities and projects such as Rural Action’s Sustainable Forestry Programs, Marietta Area Recycling Center, Friends of the Lower Muskingum River, Marietta Tree Commission, and Marietta Natural History Society, just to name a few.

“She came out of chemotherapy a few days before she died and the first thing she was concerned about was getting over to the recycling drop off to do her volunteer work helping to unload cars and manage the site,” said longtime friend and coworker Tom O’Grady, astronomy professor at Ohio University. “Over the years I’ve seen so many people that get involved in environmental causes for a while and then move on, but not Marilyn.”

Ortt taking part of a Community Earth Day Celebration by planting a red jewel crab apple tree.

Ortt taking part of a Community Earth Day Celebration by planting a red jewel crab apple tree.

O’Grady met Ortt more than 30 years ago while checking out the Marietta Area Recycling Center, a volunteer drop-off center co-founded by Ortt, where she spent 38 years volunteering. Not only could you see her dedication to helping the environment in the number of projects she was involved in, but also in the amount of time she devoted to her causes.

Her dedication was truly inspiring to us all here at Zero Waste with the foundation of the Marietta Area Recycling Center and her many years of service while there. Her concern for the beautification and conservation of Ohio made her a true champion.

During her time with Rural Action for over 10 years, Ortt helped with grant proposals, community plant education, environmental restoration, and workshops and started the Invasive Plants Program where she helped map and identify non-native and invasive populations around southeast Ohio.

Dear to her heart, was her work with Marietta’s Tree Commission, which seeks to plant and care for the urban trees for the City of Marietta.

Most impressive, is the fact that she did it all as a volunteer.

“She didn’t send in the troops to do the job. She led the troops into the battle – against pollution, for beautification and preservation and conservation,” O’Grady said. “And, she did it as a volunteer.”

Her work did not go unnoticed. She was twice awarded Ohio’s Hill Country Heritage Area Award for her work with the Marietta Area Recycling, and for her work with the Tree Commission.

Ortt was a hard-worker and a leader with unwavering beliefs.

Ortt gives speech at The Barbara A. Beiser Field Station dedication at Marietta College on Sept. 15, 2007.

Ortt gives speech at The Barbara A. Beiser Field Station dedication at Marietta College on Sept. 15, 2007.

“She could be counted on to stand up and be counted regarding an issue,” O’Grady said. “She didn’t shy away from weighing in on important concerns because it might alienate a politician or a potential funder, and she made sure that the facts were on the table and had to be dealt with.”

Ortt was a true friend of the environment and will be missed by many, but her accomplishments and projects will always carry her legacy.