The following was written by Allen Pursell, Southern Indiana Program Director for The Nature Conservancy, and good friend of Mary Clashman.
There are certain characters we meet in our lifetimes that are most memorable. I want to introduce one to you who in 2002 gave an extraordinary natural area to The Nature Conservancy. Her name is Mary Clashman.
When you first meet Mary, it is possible you could be overwhelmed by her zest. Rooted in a lifetime of interesting experiences, Mary has formed many strong opinions and forged a charismatic charm to go along with them. Born the daughter of a biology professor and raised on a farm in Jefferson County, she was years ago the Treasurer of the employee credit union of the once-familiar Haag Drugstores in central Indiana. She spent several years working for the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, both in Indianapolis and in Washington, DC. Knowing numbers was a blessing when she suddenly was forced to take over her family’s farm as a young woman after her father’s untimely death. But succeed she did, and in addition to managing the farm, she purchased two credit bureaus in Madison, merging them into one entity.
Mary bought more forestland and learned to manage them wisely for timber production to support herself and her golden retrievers. She took a long-term view of her forest investment, caring for and culturing her woodlands. In return they paid her a handsome return.
Mary’s many-faceted life has included being a restaurant critic for the City of Madison’s webpage, and she was also one of the founding members of Save the Valley, an organization that opposed the never-completed Marble Hill Nuclear Power Facility. She also had several stories published in a gardening magazine as a free-lance writer.
Mary had no children of her own, but the nurturing instinct is strong and the forests became the object of her care. It probably began at a young age when at her father’s side, she learned to admire the trees in their forest. Perhaps her father knew that this was the finest way to teach his daughter the ways of the woods and not to be afraid of those creatures living therein. Those treasured times with her dad seemingly left a lifetime impression on her that the forest gives to us not only its wood but so much more. With Mary’s gift of her beloved Pennywort Cliffs to the Conservancy, she has shared that wisdom with us all.