OBITUARIES

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1995:

Edward Lowe, 75, inventor of
Kitty Litter, died October 4 in Sarasota,
Florida, from complications of surgery to
relieve pressure from a cerebral hemorrhage.
In January 1947, Lowe, a 27-year-old Navy
veteran, was working at his father’s sawdust
business in Cassopolis, Michigan. Their
customers were mostly factories and garages
that used sawdust to sop up oil and grease
spills. As oil-soaked sawdust could become a
fire hazard, they had also begun to sell kilndried
granulated clay as a more costly alternative.


One day cat-loving neighbor Kaye
Draper asked to buy some sawdust because
her sand box had frozen. Lowe suggested
that she try the clay granules instead. When
she returned a few days later to get more,
Lowe filled 10 sacks with five pounds of clay
granules apiece, wrote “Kitty Litter” on the
sides, and tried to get a local store to sell the
sacks for 65¢ apiece. Since sand went for a
penny a pound, the store declined. Lowe
insisted that the sacks be given away as free
samples. Customers came back asking for
“Kitty Litter” by name, so Lowe filled his
car with hand-filled bags and hit the pet store
and cat show circuits. Cat ownership soon
skyrocketed, more than tripling from 1960 to
the present (while dog ownership didn’t even
double). Credited with making the growing
interest in cats possible, the litter business
boomed to the point that when Lowe sold
Kitty Litter to Ralston Purina in 1990, he
walked away with $200 million plus shares
of stock. Kitty Litter, subsidiaries, and rival
makers of clay-based litters together have
sales of as much as $700 million a year.

Glenn Grodin, 34, animal rights
activist, died abruptly of apparent natural
causes on October 12 at his home in
Beechview, Pennsylvania. At deadline, the
death was still unexplained: a strict vegetarian,
Grodin neither smoke nor drank, and
exercised regularly. A student of civil disobedience
whose first activist cause was
opposition to war, Grodin met Kathy
Merletti, of Squirrel Hill, Pennsylvania, at
the 1990 March for the Animals in
Washington, D.C., and cofounded the group
Animal Passion with her in 1993 because, as
his longtime friend and roommate Bill
Frizlen said, “Animals are the only group
that doesn’t have a voice.” Said associates
Matt Ball, Anne Green, and Jack Norris in a
joint statement to ANIMAL PEOPLE,
“Glenn touched the hearts of all area activists
with his positive outlook and sense of humor
in the face of suffering and injustice.” Added
his uncle, actor and talk show host Charles
Grodin, “He was dedicated to his causes and
put his life out there for what he believed.”
Memorials may be sent to Animal Passion,
POB 2242, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

Helen Nearing, 91, author and
vegetarian activist, died September 17 in a
single-car crash near her home in Harborside,
Maine. Born in Ridgewood, New Jersey,
she married New York City professor of economics
Scott Nearing, 21 years her elder,
just as he was blacklisted for his Marxist
views. “We wanted to control our own
source of livelihood,” they wrote together in
The Maple Sugar Book (1950), their first
commercial success among more than 50
titles they produced. “The community left us
no choice in the matter, by denying the chief
wage earner of our family the opportunity to
practice his profession.” For 20 years they
farmed in Vermont, then moved to their
famed Forest Farm in Maine in 1952––now
to be kept as a retreat center by the Bostonbased
Trust for Public Land. By then the
Nearings were leaders of the back-to-the-land
movement, running counter to urbanization,
that peaked in the late 1970s and early 1980s
when the exodus into rural areas briefly
exceeded the influx into cities for the only
time in this century. The Nearings worked
each day from dawn to noon at “bread labor,”
producing their own food and other necessities,
and then from noon to dark on intellectual
effort. Though the Nearings kept a car
and a pickup truck, they otherwise allowed
only animal-or-human-powered equipment
on their farm. Only after Scott’s death did
Helen even install a telephone. They formed
the Social Science Institute in 1953 to publish
their political and economic tracts; issued
their most famous book, Living The Good
Life, in 1954; and had other hits extolling
vegetarianism and simple living with
Continuing The Good Life (1970), and
Building and Using Our Sun-Heated
Greenhouse (1971), which popularized solar
construction. After Scott’s death at age 100
in 1983, Helen produced two more pro-vegetarian
hits by herself, Wise Words on the
Good Life and Simple Food For The Good
Life, both of which appeared that same year.

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