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Arnold Arboretum

Eugenie Beal remembered at Weld Hill Research Building on September 26

September 20, 2013

Genie Beal in Bussey Brook Meadow

Genie Beal in Bussey Brook Meadow at the Arnold Arboretum; photo by Peter Vanderwarker.

Eugenie (Genie) Beal, a major force in green space conservation efforts in Boston since the 1970s, passed away on August 28 at age 92. A dynamic and tireless advocate for preserving open space from development, Ms. Beal will be remembered at a memorial service at the Arnold Arboretum’s Weld Hill Research Building on Thursday, September 26 at 11am. The service is open to the public,and guests may park along the inner roads of the Arboretum’s Peters Hill, located on Bussey Street near its intersection with Walter Street at the southern (Roslindale) border of the Arboretum’s historical landscape (see directions to Peters Hill). A shuttle bus will be available to transport guests from the parking area on Peters Hill to the memorial service at the Weld Hill Research Building. Guests are advised to arrive early to allow for parking and shuttle service. The lot at Weld Hill will be reserved as handicap parking only (see directions to handicap parking).

At the Arnold Arboretum, Genie Beal is best remembered for leading efforts with husband John Blackwell to incorporate parcels of City- and Harvard-owned property known as Bussey Brook Meadow into the Arnold Arboretum indenture for public use, study, and enjoyment. Through funding by the Arboretum Park Conservancy (APC), a group she founded with husband John Blackwell, this “urban wild” also became accessible to visitors through the creation of the Blackwell Footpath traversing the meadow from Washington Street at Forest Hills to the Arboretum’s South Street Gate. Through the commitment of Genie and her associates at the APC, the non-profit advocacy group has remained dedicated to improving the site, erecting gateways at both ends of the footpath, conducting a botanical survey, and funding interpretive signage to educate visitors on the parcel’s wildlife and ecology.

Called “the mother of green space in the City of Boston” by Mayor Thomas Menino, Genie was a leading advocate for preserving open space throughout greater Boston for four decades. Working with equal comfort and effectiveness at both the official and grassroots levels, Genie’s achievements include serving as the first director of Boston’s Environment Department, co-founding with John Blackwell the Boston Natural Areas Network and serving as its chair, and helping to launch the Emerald Necklace Conservancy and the Boston Greenspace Alliance. She was honored for her trailblazing work as the inaugural recipient in 2005 of the Justine Mee Liff Spirit Award, presented by the Emerald Necklace Conservancy in honor of the late Boston Parks commissioner. She was also recognized by the Trustees of Reservations as recipient of the Charles Eliot Award, and by the American Society of Landscape Architects with the LaGasse Medal.

Read the Boston Globe obituary.

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