Our Founder

Susan Luckie Reilly, 1916 - 2017

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Susan Luckie Reilly was born in 1916, the same year the National Park Service was founded.  In 1965, Susan donned the green and grey of the NPS and worked as a seasonal, ranger-naturalist for what was then, Joshua Tree National Monument. 

Susan was the daughter of Dr. James B. Luckie, a Pasadena physician who recommended the healthy, dry, desert climate to WWI veterans suffering from the effects of mustard gas.  The Luckie family spent time at the family home in Twentynine Palms when not in Pasadena.  It was during these family visits that Susan developed a life long love and passion for the desert environment.  A graduate of Stanford University, Ms. Reilly and others founded the Morongo Basin Conservation Association which successfully fought off an initiative by the utility company to run a massive power transmission corridor straight through the heart of the Morongo Basin.

Susan was the first recipient of the Minerva Hoyt Award in 2004.  She also received a Woman of Distinction Award given by Congressman Paul Cook in 2013 and has been a driving force for preservation and protection of the Southern California desert.

Susan lived until she turned 101 years old on June 22, 2017. Her final legacy was the gift of her home and acreage to Joshua Tree National Park for research use and is now named the Dr. Luckie Study Center. Luckie Park in 29 Palms is also named in honor of Dr. James B. Luckie at its dedication on July 4, 1965.

Not only was Susan a conservationist she was also a poet. We hope you enjoy her words below:

Spirit of the Desert Night
by Susan Luckie Reilly

The rosy glow of the setting sun
Casts dark shadows afar,
A lone coyote, with an eerie note,
Sings to the evening star.

His call is wild and free—
Voice of the desert domain;
The softly soughing wind
Echoes back the refrain.

Is it just the wind? Or is it the brush
Of a moccasined foot on the sand?
Can the muffled tread of a tribe long dead
Be heard in this timeless land?

With the first pale tint of coming day
The night murmurs fade away;
The coyote’s howl and the hoot of an owl
Again hold their lonely sway.

Not only was Susan a conservationist she was also a poet. We hope you enjoy her words below:

Spirit of the Desert Night
by Susan Luckie Reilly
The rosy glow of the setting sun
Casts dark shadows afar,
A lone coyote, with an eerie note,
Sings to the evening star.

His call is wild and free—
Voice of the desert domain;
The softly soughing wind
Echoes back the refrain.

Is it just the wind? Or is it the brush
Of a moccasined foot on the sand?
Can the muffled tread of a tribe long dead
Be heard in this timeless land?

With the first pale tint of coming day
The night murmurs fade away;
The coyote’s howl and the hoot of an owl
Again hold their lonely sway.

(Thanks to Joshua Tree National Park News Release of June 8, 2016, for some of this information.

Ruth Rieman's Comments at Susan's Celebration of Life

As a long-time MBCA Board member and former President of MBCA, Ruth had a long acquaintance with Susan and presented a wonderful array of stories about Susan's contributions to our communities at the Celebration of Life on July 8, 2017. 

Susan's Poetry

At the Celebration of Life for Susan, several poems she had written at various times in her life were displayed. Here are six of them.

Learn more about Susan and the history about the MBCA here.

 

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