June 6th, 2013 — Northern Jaguar Project remembers Peter Warshall. This is a great read about his work with my aunt and Jaguars.
June 9th, 2013 — Central Coast Bioneers remembers Peter Warshall.
My uncle, Peter Warshall was a great naturalist and a wonderful uncle. He was a beautiful, unassuming man who worked his entire life to make this world a better place. As a small child, I saw him as a silly man with fun magic tricks, great jokes and someone who always had time for little ones at family gatherings. As a teen, I saw him as an interesting adult who ‘got’ me and remembered what it was like to be a teenager. As an adult, I saw him as brilliant, compassionate with many wise and fascinating stories. Peter had this wonderful ability to meet you where you were. I never felt “talked down to” and I always felt that he valued my opinion and thoughts. He was always kind, compassionate, honest, clear, and authentic. Whether he was telling a story about an animal or the draft board, I was interested in what he had to say.
Our last conversation came on a day when Peter was at the end of a round of treatment. He was not feeling well, the chemo was really intense. We talked about death and dying. He shared with me that he felt that the pain was teaching him about disconnecting from his body. That this experience was an opportunity to be glad for death. I feel honored to have been on the receiving end of those thoughts. Peter apologized once for being so morbid and gloomy, but when I told him I was fine with it and it was okay to share it with me, he went deeper.
Like a true yogi, in his last days, he “went in.” He became unresponsive. I choose to believe that he went deep into meditation to prepare for his last great work in this body: his passing. Peter was laid to rest in Paradise Cemetery outside of Portal, Arizona. His grave is flanked by two juniper trees. He was lowered into the earth on a beautiful afternoon, Sunday April 28, 2013. His coffin was made of cardboard, decorated by the children that he loved and that loved him back, the children placed pine cones, feathers, juniper branches around him, my father gave him money for the boatman, and of course a bottle of bacanora (tequila from Sonora) was placed inside.
Peter has worked for more than 40 years on conservation, biodiversity protection, and community development projects in Africa, Latin America, and North America for the United Nations, USAID, various conservation groups and businesses, and Native American governments. Peter’s multi-faceted areas of expertise include natural history, natural resource management, environmental impact analysis, and conflict resolution and consensus building among divergent interest groups. He is an expert on the Madrean Sky Island archipelago as well as the endangered Mt. Graham red squirrel. He has worked for the Point Reyes Bird Observatory on migratory bird habitat conservation, and as an elected official, Peter pioneered the conversion of sewerage plant effluent into a bird sanctuary. He has served on the board of directors of the All Species Foundation, Sky Island Alliance, Scientists for the Preservation of Mt. Graham, RES (anthropology), Tallberg Foundation (Sweden, sustainability), World Innovation Foundation, and is a member of the Global Business Network. Peter received a B.A. in Biology and a Ph.D. in Biology and Anthropology from Harvard University. He received a Fulbright scholarship for studies in mammalogy (Ecole de Medicín) and Anthropology (Sorbonne). He edited the environmental sections of the Whole Earth Catalog and its magazines from 1973 to 1996. He has also been instrumental as co-director of Bioneers’ Dreaming New Mexico initiative.