SCA Statement on the Death of Dr. Lee Talbot

Thursday, May 13, 2021

SCA mourns the passing of Lee Talbot, Ph.D., husband of SCA Co-Founder Martha “Marty” Hayne Talbot and one of the most distinguished ecologists the world has ever known.

A professor of Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University in Virginia, Dr. Talbot’s remarkable life path seemed predestined. His grandfather founded what would later become the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. His parents tutored him in the outdoors through numerous hiking and camping excursions. Following a stint in the Marine Corps, he studied endangered species with the National Academy of Sciences and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources and later authored the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and many other landmark legislative measures.

As Marty told SCA in a 2015 profile, “I met Lee in Washington, DC at the North American Wildlife Conference when we were recruiting for the Student Conservation Program [as SCA was originally known],” she said. “We were married in May of 1959 and went off to Africa. I was Lee’s assistant, working on the ecology of the plains in the Serengeti. We worked there for a couple of years, came back to the States and wrote it up.” 

The couple would go on to write hundreds of books, reports, and papers, and Lee Talbot would advise U.S. presidents, the United Nations, and the World Bank on environmental policy, while conducting research in 134 countries around the globe.

In addition to his work as a renowned ecologist, Dr. Talbot was an award-winning auto racer, driving professionally for more than six decades.

Dr. Talbot was 90 years of age. In addition to his wife, Marty, he is survived by their sons, Lawrence and Rusty, the latter an SCA alumnus.