Remembering Lynette Shanley, Tammy Sue Kirkpatrick, Coby Siegenthaler, and Lorraine Blake Roth
Lynette Shanley, Tammy Sue Kirkpatrick, Coby Siegenthaler, and Lorraine Blake Roth, widely separated in geography, ages, life experience, and focus in activism, likely never met, nor even heard of each other, yet––like tens of thousands of other relatively anonymous women––lent strength to the ever-growing worldwide movement on behalf of animals for much of their lives.
Each died almost unnoticed, except by family and friends, word of their deaths only reaching ANIMALS 24-7 long afterward, yet each could have claimed noteworthy accomplishments had it been their way to do so.
From biomedical researcher to advocate for lab animals
Lorraine Blake Roth, 93, died on August 20, 2017 at her home in Brookline, Massachusetts. Born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of a firefighter, she earned a bachelor’s degree in science.
“During World War II she worked at Merck laboratories, testing doses of the newly-developed wonder drug penicillin, for use by the troops abroad,” recalled the Jamaica Plain Gazette.
After World War II she took a job at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York City.
Visiting the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in connection with her work, she met and married Woods Hole animal researcher Jay S. Roth in 1951.
Left career to raise her children
“Lorraine soon became pregnant, leaving her promising career just as she was first published as an author of a scientific paper,” the Jamaica Plain Gazette added.
Raising three children, “She maintained her interest in science, particularly genetics and evolutionary biology, throughout her life, avidly corresponding with leading scientists on her theories,” the Jamaica Plain Gazette said.
“Divorced in 1972, Lorraine returned to work in laboratories and hospitals in Boston’s medical area,” the Jamaica Plain Gazette continued. “In 1979, alarmed by the treatment of lab animals where she had worked, Lorraine became a founding member of Citizens to End Animal Suffering in Experiments (CEASE), a Boston animal-rights organization that later changed its name to the Coalition to End Animal Suffering and Exploitation.”
Initiatives for farmed animals
Highlights of her work for CEASE included organizing a 1980 World Day for Animals rally on the Boston Common, and collecting enough signatures in 1988 to put an initiative on behalf of farmed animals on the Massachusetts state ballot.
“While it failed due to a vigorous opposition ad campaign,” the Jamaica Plain Gazette finished, “Lorraine lived to see her early vision pave the way for the 2016 successful ballot initiative requiring humane farm standards for meat and eggs produced and sold in Massachusetts.”
CEASE continues campaigns against factory farming, wearing fur, and the use of animals in entertainment.
Hans & Coby Siegenthaler hid Jews from Nazis
Coby Siegenthaler, 92, died on January 12, 2018. Born in the Netherlands, Coby and her late husband Hans, who died in 2003, helped to hide Jewish refugees during World War II. Hans Siegenthaler in February 2002 accepted a “righteous among nations” award from Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, on behalf of his parents, Hugo and Wijbrigje Siegenthaler.
Emigrating to the U.S. in 1955, Hans and Coby Siegenthaler, already vegetarians, soon became involved in animal advocacy, going fully vegan in the mid-1970s.
“The Siegenthalers were well known in Southern California because for many years their home was the location of monthly vegan potlucks, as well as a meeting place for Green Party members,” recalled the online periodical VegParadise.
Friends remembered Coby Siegenthaler participating in animal advocacy demonstrations from her wheelchair only weeks before her death.
No Kill Conference organizer
Tammy Sue Kirkpatrick, 58, died on January 14, 2018 in Alvarado, Texas, “due to a blood clot and uterine cancer,” longtime friend Gwyn Foro told ANIMALS 24-7.
Born in Wichita, Kansas, raised in Oklahoma, Kirkpatrick was at home among cowboy culture and singing in rural Baptist church choirs, but made her way to the North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, New York, to pursue her career on behalf of animals, initially cleaning cages, working her way up to an executive position as assistant to the late Lynda Foro, 1999-2002, at the subsidiary Pet Savers Foundation.
(See No Kill Conference & No-Kill Directory founder Lynda Foro, 74.)
In that capacity Kirkpatrick helped to organize four editions of the original No Kill Conference series, which was unrelated to the series begun in 2007 by No Kill Advocacy Center founder Nathan Winograd.
Relocating to be closer to home and family, Kirkpatrick later served in various capacities with the SPCA of Texas and North Texas Animal Shelter, helping to organize the 2009 Texas Unites! animal advocacy conference.
Seeking less stress in her life, but remaining active in animal rescue as president of her own project, Angel Paws Consulting, Kirkpatrick spent her last years working in retail merchandising.
Shanley: “lovely, funny, brilliant”
ANIMALS 24-7 learned of Shanley’s death only minutes after International Primate Protection League founder Shirley McGreal posted to Facebook, “It’s a sad day. Today I learned that Lynette Shanley, who came twice as a speaker to IPPL conferences and arranged for me to give a lecture tour in Australia, lost her 18-year battle with cancer in July 2017. She was a lovely, funny, and brilliant woman and the founder of Primates for Primates. Rest in peace, dear Lynette!”
Shanley, 67, of Portland, Australia, as a university student pursued degrees in ancient history and archaeology at university, and remained interested in both throughout her life, but her focus in life took a different turn when in 1982 she became involved in dog and cat rescue.
From ducks to marmosets to wild cats
Shanley’s first advocacy campaign ended the use of live ducks to teach “parenting” skills to primary school children.
That success led to much more.
Recalled Shanley in Speaking Up for Animals: An Anthology of Women’s Voices, assembled by Lisa Kemmerer in 2012, “One morning in October 1990, I opened the newspaper to find that William McBride, the doctor who discovered the effects of thalidomide, was going to euthanize 240 marmosets. In desperation I phoned Shirley McGreal. I never thought I would actually talk to her, but she answered the phone. She gave me a few good ideas, and a few weeks later suggested that I focus on helping primates in Australia. Australia’s first primate welfare organization, Primates for Primates, was born.”
Shanley later founded an Australian branch of the International Society for Endangered Cats, now called Wild Cats Plus, “with the help,” Shanley remembered, “of Pat Bumstead of Canada.”
Stopped monkey imports
Shanley listed first among her major accomplishments winning a 2004 amendment to the legal classification of monkeys in Australia that excluded keeping nonhuman primates as pets, with an exemption for pet monkeys already in homes and receiving appropriate care.
Most significantly, Shanley believed, the amendment stopped the import of monkeys into Australia, the use of monkeys in Australian biomedical research having already been stopped.
Fearing that the Australian researchers might still be using monkeys at Southeast Asian laboratories with little or no oversight, Shanley monitored scientific publications throughout the rest of her life to try to document cruelty and misuse.
“I have also been instrumental in closing down two zoos, and have successfully urged the federal government to adopt a national code that will improve conditions for captive animals throughout Australia,” Shanley recalled in Speaking Up for Animals.
Did not see wild monkeys until after they saw her
“Though I have worked on primate issues since 1990,” Shanley continued, “it was not until 2005 that I actually saw a primate in the wild, in his or her own habitat.”
On that memorable first occasion, while unpacking her bags at a hotel in Jaipur, India, Shanley discovered a troupe of langurs observing her from a tree outside her room.
“I will go to my death able to say, ‘I did what I could when I could.’ I will have no regrets,” Shanley finished in Speaking Up for Animals. “My life is wonderful even now,” she wrote, despite her suffering from cancer. “It is made wonderful because of the work I do, because of my own cats, and because I know my purpose.”
Shanley was a 2004 recipient of the World League for Protection of Animals
Advice about presenting a “united face”
Amid frequent clamoring by other activists that animal advocates should suppress differences of opinion and philosophy in the name of “movement unity,” Shanley posted to the Asian Animal Protection Network in 2007, “We are very much like the rest of society. Church groups do not get along and do not present a united face. Your local parent and citizens’ clubs do not get along and do not present a united face.
“Environmental movement leaders often disagree within themselves and do not present a united face. Staff of organizations and corporate concerns do not present a united face.
“Take any section of society and look to see if they present a united face. They do not, and to expect us to present a united face is putting a further burden on us, when most of us are suffering from compassion burnout.
“Accept that we will disagree over many things”
“How can we present a united face? We are people with different ideas and aims. We believe in different ways of going about things and believe in different approaches to a problem.
“Let us be reasonable. We are different. Do not expect anyone to present a united face. If you do, you are expecting an impossibility to happen, and you will be disappointed.
“Accept that we are like all humans and will disagree over many things.
“On some things we will agree,” Shanley finished, “and we should make the most of that when it happens.”
This thought appears to have been one with which Kirkpatrick, Siegenthaler, and Roth would have agreed.
Karen Davis says
Thank you for your informative memorial tributes to these four animal activists. I knew Coby personally as a result of her support for United Poultry Concerns for many years. I did not know she had died early this year. She attended the Animal Rights National Conference up until the end of her life, seemingly, for she always stopped by our exhibit table to talk to me. She was a very vibrant person totally dedicated to animals and animal rights. I recall her husband, too. They were honored at the AR National Conference before he passed away several years ago.
The perspective on “movement unity” by Lynette Shanley is well stated and accurate. How often has the lament “why can’t we all just get along”? been expressed by frustrated activists? It isn’t only personal conflicts and animosities that can disrupt unity. Differences on matters of principle, ethics, strategy and goals cannot be set aside or airbrushed into a cosmetically pleasing façade. Nor should they be.
For example, when many groups jumped on Whole Foods’ “Compassionate Standards” bandwagon in the mid-2000s, I refused to participate. No way would United Poultry Concerns be associated with this betrayal of animals and degradation of the word “compassion.” No way would we succumb to the false logic that this would be a way to fight, or eliminate, “factory farms.” Oh, god, what a bunch of crap.
Yet, as a movement, we can and we do work together for animals, in the manner of other organizations and causes, which is not to say we can’t do better.
Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns http://www.upc-online.org
Dr. Will Tuttle says
Beautiful article! I only knew Coby well, but knowing of these others deepens my appreciation for not just their lives and efforts but for the countless people working tirelessly to raise awareness – thanks guys for shedding light into our world!
Jamaka Petzak says
RIP these four advocates. And echoing Dr. Davis’ thoughts on “unity” and the fact that we can do better. Very wise words from the late Ms. Shanley.
First class research as always.
susan rudnicki says
I SO enjoyed this remembrance piece on the women and their work. The observations on presenting issues with a unified vision are also very helpful. We just don’t hear these things often enough, yet it sits there right in the middle of every group, a menacing presence. Shanley’s remarks on it are so practical and articulate. What we can agree on is the desire to end suffering—which has an unmistakable look.
I saw the movie about Jane Goodall recently, too, and was so moved by her observations and care for each of her ape family.