Background image of Jack Vaughn and Ecotrust founder, Spencer Beebe standing in front of flowers


Jack Vaughn: U.S. Ambassador, Ecotrust cornerstone

Ambassador Jack Hood Vaughn, our founding Chair, a friend, and an inspiration 1920-2012

Today is a sad day at Ecotrust.  Ambassador Jack Hood Vaughn, our founding Chair, friend, and inspiration for so much we dream to do, died at home yesterday in Tucson, Arizona, with his devoted wife Leftie and son Jackson at his side. He was 92.

Jack Vaughn
Jack Vaughn

Jack chaired Ecotrust’s board for our first ten years.  He joined The Nature Conservancy’s board in 1982 to help develop the Conservancy’s International Program.  In 1987, he joined the founding board of Conservation International, then our staff, and helped create Ecotrust in 1991 as our founding Chair.

He was, among many, many things, the much-beloved Director of the Peace Corps in its heyday in the 1960’s, then U.S. Ambassador in Colombia and Panama. He was Acting Director of U.S. Agency for International Development and Under Secretary of State for Latin America among innumerable senior government and foreign affairs jobs in Washington and abroad.

He grew up in Montana, received a graduate degree in agricultural development from Michigan while developing a 17-year career in prize fighting.  His early boxing success during the Depression was a distraction from school and earned him so much money that his father said, “The three happiest years of his life were junior year in high school.”

Vaughn and Jane Jacobs
Vaughn and Jane Jacobs

Jack served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific theater in WW II, taught hand-to-hand combat, and was shot three times, “each time in the rear,” he said.  “You could tell which way I was running,” which, of course, was characteristically the humble opposite of the truth.

Jack was always leading the charge, including our own, getting Ecotrust off the ground.  He was a man of many, many distinguished and almost unknowable lives; ones lived with extraordinary courage, good humor and devotion to the human spirit, and to peace and security and environmental wellbeing worldwide.

Update 11/3: See the New York Times obituary on Vaughn.