Memorial for Mary Stoertz set for Saturday
ATHENS, Ohio (March 8, 2007) -- Mary Stoertz, 49, an associate professor of geological sciences at Ohio University who was passionate about cleaning area waterways, died Feb. 26 of a heart attack. Friends and family will honor Stoertz at a memorial 10 a.m. this Saturday (March 10) at First United Methodist Church on College Street.
The memorial is open to the public and will be followed by a pot luck lunch.
Stoertz's role as a teacher and scientist went far beyond the classroom and led her to southeast Ohio waterways polluted by coal mine runoff.
"She was passionate about this," said David Kidder, chair of the geology department. "She really loved what she did."
Stoertz worked on the remediation of Sunday and Monday Creeks, two local waterways that ran orange because of acid mine runoff. She worked to put measures in place to clean the creeks and enlisted her students to help, leading many of them to stay in the region after graduating.
"Her enthusiasm radiated to the students," Kidder said. "They were inspired to stay around and work on things she taught them to do."
Stoertz motivated one student well before college. Natalie Kruse, a neighbor of Stoertz, recalls the professor taking her to an abandoned mine as part of a kids' water education event when Kruse was 10 years old.
"I was overwhelmed that this huge issue was so close to home," said Kruse.
Now Kruse, who received a B.S. from Ohio University in 2004 and is a 2003 recipient of the Marshall Scholarship, is working on a doctorate in hydrogeochemical engineering at Newcastle University in England, where she studied abandoned coal mine remediation. But she plans to come home to Southeast Ohio and follow in Stoertz's footsteps.
"She's inspired me to bring my work back to this area and do my best to live up to her standards and do something that would make her proud," she said.
An instructor at Ohio University since 1992, Stoertz also worked with the Voinovich Center, advocating environmental issues. She helped the center's Appalachian Watershed Research Group earn an $869,000 grant from the EPA in 2004.
"She was in the field a lot, talking to politicians a lot and talking to mining officials a lot," Kidder said. "In many ways she helped to bring a lot of people together."
"She rallied a community around our environment and made it an issue that people are aware of," Kruse said.
Stoertz received her B.S. in 1980 from the University of Wisconsin, where she was a member of the crew team and conducted research on Mount St. Helens. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin.
Stoertz is survived by her husband, Doug Green, also an associate professor in geology at Ohio University, and her two children, Kevin and Duncan.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by the Hughes-Moquin Funeral Home in Athens. In lieu of flowers, Stoertz's family is encouraging contributions to a scholarship in her name, the Mary W. Stoertz Memorial Scholarship, through the Ohio University Foundation. Contributions are also suggested to Athens Youth Hockey Association, the Hocking River Commission, the Sunday Creek Watershed Group, the Monday Creek Restoration Project and Good Works.
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Written by Tom Bosco
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