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Conservationist Rieth Leaves " Invaluable Legacy"

Mary Jane George Rieth, 92, a longtime Indiana conservationist and philanthropist, died Wednesday at her home in Goshen.

The Goshen College announcement said she and her husband, Lee, co-founded the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center near Wolf Lake in 1964.

The privately owned environmental education site in Noble County includes forest, prairie and wetland ecosystems.

“I join many others at Goshen College in grieving Mary Jane Rieth’s passing from this Earth and praying with her family,” Goshen College President James Brenneman said in a written statement.

He said the couple “left an invaluable legacy through their vision of creating a natural land sanctuary for the plants and animals of northern Indiana and helping provide environmental education for future generations.”

Visitation is 2 p.m. Sunday at the Meetinghouse at Greencroft, followed at 3 p.m. by a memorial service.

Memorials can be given to the Merry Lea Center of Goshen College.

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Comment by Jennifer Schrock on January 4, 2009 at 2:40pm
I have met Mary Jane only briefly in her later years, but as an employee of Merry Lea, I have benefited from her visionary generosity. Whenever we host an educational program or begin a research project, whenever we see an unusual bird or plant we weren't expecting at Merry Lea, Mary Jane Rieth had a hand in it. We have photographs of Merry Lea taken from the air. Up there, our 1,189 acres are a shaggy green splotch hemmed in by a sea of neat agricultural squares. What looks large on the ground is actually a remnant: one that could no longer be preserved if the Rieths had not had the foresight to do it.

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