Verna Mize Obituary
April 25, 1913 - January 1, 2013
Resided in Potomac, MD
Verna G. Mize, 99, passed away January 1, 2013 at Manor Care Potomac, Potomac, Maryland.
Born in Houghton, Michigan on April 25, 1913, she was the daughter of late John and Ann Ghena Grahek.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her loving husband, C.W.O. Alton McLeen Mize,
U.S.M.C., who passed away October 2, 1975 and brother, John M. Grahek.
She was a member of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church, Bethesda, Maryland.
Verna attended public and private schools and the College of St. Teresa, Winona, Minnesota.
Federal career included service in the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the Navy Bureau of
Aeronautics, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the
Coast and Geodetic Survey, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department
of Commerce, between 1935 and 1980.
Verna Mize was a pioneer in the environmental movement. In 1967, she initiated and for several years led a
successful national citizen effort to stop the pollution of Lake Superior by the Reserve Mining Company of
Silver Bay, Minnesota, which was totally owned by the Armco and Republic Steel Corporations. Her "Save
Lake Superior" campaign, as she called it, was a classic confrontation between citizens and powerful giants
of industry. It brought the Federal Government, the State of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and
environmental groups into law suit against Reserve. It was the longest, most costly, most bitterly fought
environmental case in history. As a result, Reserve was forced to end its discharge. In his book, "The Great
Pains States of America," Neal R. Peirce wrote of Mrs. Mize's campaign as "an amazing demonstration of
woman and citizen power."
In the course of her campaign, Verna Mize testified before the Subcommittee on the Environment of the
Senate Commerce Committee. She made numerous radio appeals and television appearances, including Ted
Koppel's "Nightline" on ABC.
She received the awards and honors: Verna Mize was given the title, "First Lady of Lake Superior," by
Michigan Governor William G. Milliken. She received an American Motors Corporation Conservation
Award in 1976 "In recognition of exceptional service in the cause of conservation. She also received a U. S.
Department of Commerce bronze medal award for "superior Federal service". The people of her home
town, Houghton, Michigan, honored her with a park dedicated in her name in 1981.
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Bethesda, MD US 20814-3501
Potomac, MD US 20854