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Frances Archbold Hufty, October 17th, 1912 - November 19th, 2010

Frances Archbold Hufty, naturalist, civic leader, and conservationist, died Friday November 19th, 2010, in Palm Beach, Florida, surrounded by family and friends. Frances, 98, served as the Chairman of the Board of Archbold Expeditions, parent organization of Archbold Biological Station and the MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center, in Lake Placid, Florida, from 1976 until her death. Hers was a life well-lived, dedicated to her family, her community, and the natural world.

Born on October 17th, 1912 at the Ritz in New York City, Frances was the youngest child of May Barron Archbold and John Foster Archbold. She spent much of her childhood at Chinquapin Plantation, near Thomasville, Georgia, where she found her love of nature and the out-of-doors.  She was born into a family known for great philanthropic support of science, conservation, and community; her father founded the Archbold Hospital in Thomasville, Georgia and supported the Cooperative Quail Investigation (1924-1929), helping to pave the way for the establishment of the Tall Timbers Research Station in Tallahassee, Florida. Her aunt, Anne Mills Archbold, was a supporter of botanical exploration and research in the Pacific Ocean including the cruise of the Cheng Ho (1940) led by David Fairchild, tropical botanist explorer.  Frances accompanied Annie Archbold to the Chichen Itza excavations in 1930. Her brother, Richard Archbold, explorer, patron of science, and naturalist, founded Archbold Expeditions in 1936, and established the Archbold Biological Station in Lake Placid, Florida, in 1941.

Frances Hufty served continuously on the Board of Archbold Expeditions from 1974. After Richard Archbold’s death in 1976 she assumed leadership of Archbold Expeditions, devoting the next 34 years as Chairman of the Board.  Four Executive Directors served her – Dr. James N. Layne (1976-1985), Dr. James L. Wolfe (1985-1987), Dr. John W. Fitzpatrick (1988-1995) and Dr. Hilary M. Swain (1995-present). Frances successfully navigated the organization through many watershed events: reorganization of Archbold Expeditions following Richard Archbold’s death in 1976; independence of Archbold Expeditions from the American Museum of Natural History in 1981; purchase of Lake Annie and surrounding lands in 1983; establishment of the MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center  in conjunction with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 1988; her generous gift that funded the purchase of the 3,648-acre Archbold Reserve in 2002;  and the conceptual design and construction of the Adrian Archbold Center, named in honor of her brother Adrian. This Center, to be completed in 2011, will transform environmental education at the Station and regionally.

Under her foresight and leadership Archbold Biological Station doubled in size to 8,841-acres, increasing vital protection for the globally threatened Florida scrub and its many rare plants and animals. Archbold science grew in international stature, generating fundamental data for guiding protection of the scrub, agro-ecology research to enable ecologically and economically sustainable working farms and ranches in the Northern Everglades, and restoration ecology studies to restore the Archbold Reserve and other degraded lands. At Frances’s instigation Archbold’s education activities expanded to include extensive programs for 3-5th grade, and exciting summer camps for 7-12 year-olds. She rarely missed her weekly Thursday visits to the Station and the Ranch, happy to be out in the woods, the pastures, and the scrub, proudly wearing her favorite Archbold T-shirts featuring ants, flowers, cattle, lizards, spiders, or snakes.

Frances understood intuitively exactly what Archbold Expeditions is all about; sharing her brother’s love of science with abundant concern for conservation and education. She epitomized the term biophilia, demonstrating a deep understanding of the links that bind humans to the natural, living world. She had the incisive, questioning mind of a scientist, the love of learning of a scholar regularly attending scientific seminars, the curiosity of a field biologist, a genuine interest in agriculture, and an intuitive sense of the importance of place and stewardship. The Board benefitted immensely from her organization, sense of decorum, and good head for finances. She looked to the Board’s future, working closely with her husband Page Hufty and embracing her children and grandchildren as members of the Board; she instilled love, loyalty, and legacy to ensure a vibrant and enduring organization.  

Frances was an active gardener and life-time member of the Garden Club of America of Palm Beach; she was awarded the Garden Club of America Conservation Committee Award, Zone VIII, and their national Conservation Achievement Award. She and her fellow garden club members were directly engaged in research projects on rare scrub plants at Carter Creek and Flamingo Villas in Highlands County.  As well as her dedication to Archbold Expeditions, her legacy includes the Palm Beach Rehabilitation Center for Children and Adults and the Pine Jog Environmental Education Center in West Palm Beach, whose boards she chaired for many years. She was the first female board member of the Palm Beach Community Chest, Civic Committee, and United Way, and was active from the 1960s on the Board of Easter Seal.  In Palm Beach County she was recipient of the Alexis de Tocqueville Award for Civic Excellence in 1991, and the Pine Jog Environmental Education Center Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

Frances and her beloved husband of 67 years, Page Hufty (1907-2001), raised five children and became pillars of the Palm Beach community. She is survived by her children - John Archbold Hufty, Alexandra Page Hufty Anlyan, Frances Archbold Hufty Leidy, Page Lee Hufty Bell, Mary Page Hufty, 11 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.  Her last words were “I believe in the future”. Those of us in science, conservation, environmental education, or living in Highlands County certainly owe this wonderful, elegant, modest, and charming woman a great deal for her most generous devotion to our future.  

Condolences may be sent c/o Archbold Biological Station and, if desired, please consider a donation in her memory for the Archbold Lodge and Learning Center, payable to Archbold Biological Station.  

Hilary M. Swain (Executive Director) and Mary Hufty (President)  
Archbold Expeditions, November 29, 2010.