Marti Kheel, activist, dies at 63


Former Riverdalian Marti Kheel died on Nov. 19 in Greenwich, Conn. of acute myeloid leukemia, according to a notice released by her family. She was 63 years old. 

Ms. Kheel’s passionate involvement and unique perspective on such seemingly unrelated topics as threats to the environment, animal rights and feminism led her to found Feminists for Animal Rights and to write regularly about all three subjects.

The titles of her published articles, including “The Liberation of Nature: A Circular Affair,” “From Heroic to Holistic Ethics: The Ecofeminist Challenge” and “From Healing Herbs to Deadly Drugs: Western Medicine’s War Against the Natural World,” were an indication of the breadth and depth of her interests and scholarship.

In 2007, she published a book Nature Ethics: An Ecofeminist Perspective, a philosophical treatise that won high praise from reviewers, including from Carol J. Adams, who wrote, “‘Nature Ethics’ is a major contribution to ecofeminist philosophy, animal liberation, and environmental ethics. Marti Kheel provides an invaluable critique of the ecological position that accepts violence toward individual beings while professing love and respect for the larger natural world.”

Ms. Kheel graduated from the Ethical Culture Fieldston School and earned her bachelor’s degree in history at the University of Wisconsin. She held a master’s degree in sociology from McGill University and a Ph.D. in religious studies from the Graduate Theological Union.

Most recently, she was a visiting scholar in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at the University of California, Berkeley.

She was predeceased by her parents, Theodore W. Kheel and Ann Sunstein Kheel. She is survived by her sisters, Ellen, Connie, Jane and Kate; her brother, Bob; brother-in-law, Arnie; and 11 nieces and nephews.

Her family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations in Ms. Kheel’s memory be made to Feminists for Animal Rights, Animal People, Food Empowerment Project, EMF-Safety Network, or International Fund for Africa.