Elliott Mackle and George Mende came to support the Conservancy via two different roads.
Elliott’s father was a successful Florida developer – “I saw him sell 100 homes in one weekend,” he says. As a teen, Elliot liked going beyond the Miami subdivisions to cruise the Everglades in a Jeep ... “Just me and my best friend and the sawgrass,” he reflects.
In contrast, George Mende grew up in South Carolina, where there were plenty of natural areas and ways to enjoy them – collecting plants with classmates in the Francis Marion National Forest, riding horses with a friend into a local pine forest.
As the years went by, George became concerned about how fast landscapes were disappearing; and joining the Conservancy was a logical step. “It was the international aspect that brought them to my attention – they were protecting contiguous blocks of land,” he says.
For Elliott, a three-year Air Force stint in California showed him the value of conservation. “I camped out in Yosemite and Big Sur ... it knocked my socks off,” he said. “And I realized that on the West Coast, you couldn’t put up a hotel just anywhere.”
On overseas assignments and as he built his career in Atlanta – novelist, journalist, food critic, university instructor – Elliott grew to appreciate the unspoiled areas he encountered. Pairing up in 1972, he and George had discovered a shared interest in preservation as well as an enthusiasm for travel.
Today they integrate both. In addition to touring around the world, they visit Conservancy projects they’ve supported. George tells of visiting the Lost Cove project in Tennessee: “On the canyon rim, it was like standing on the edge of a cloud, looking down on a green sea.” Elliott enjoyed seeing restoration work in the Everglades.
Elliott also likes supporting areas close to home: “I was at a farmer’s market in DeKalb, wearing a Conservancy hat. A guy in camo and boots came up to me and said, ‘I just want to thank you for what you’re doing. You can’t hunt and fish in a subdivision.’”
George, a retired senior vice president of Wachovia’s trust division, emphasizes the importance of “spelling out where you want your money to go.” Last year he and Elliott named the Conservancy in living trusts as well as in their wills. Elliott notes that the trust advisor affirmed their choice: “He said the Conservancy would keep their promises.”
George likes knowing his legacy gift allows him to support conservation for future generations, worldwide. As for Elliott, he gets satisfaction from helping ensure a future for the wild area he remembers so well.
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You can protect prairies and other natural places by making a planned gift with The Nature Conservancy. Contact us today.March 11, 2013