Dr. Theo Colborn
March 28, 1927–December 14, 2014
Theo Colborn, Founder and President Emeritus of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX), based in Paonia, Colorado, died on Sunday, December 14. She was 87.
A statement from the Staff and Board of Directors of TEDX at the website:
If you ever had the chance to meet her, even once, you knew Theo Colborn. She didn’t have a single hidden agenda. Her commitment to uncovering the truth was out there for the world to see.
For nearly 30 years she dedicated herself to revealing the dangers of endocrine disrupting chemicals to wildlife and humans. More recently she alerted us all to the threats posed by chemicals associated with oil and gas development. She wove the two together beautifully in her statement The Fossil Fuel Connection, which she worked on until the day she died.
Theo’s visionary leadership and passion shone most brilliantly when she made direct connections between new ideas, scientists whose work confirmed them, impacted individuals, and people in positions to change what needed changing. She will be remembered for many generations to come, generations that she worked tirelessly to protect.
Theo often feared that we had already passed the tipping point — that our intelligence and compassion had been so compromised by endocrine disruptors that we could no longer think our way out of the crises we had created.
As the living embodiment of her legacy, we at TEDX say, “No. It is not too late. There are people out there who ‘get it’ and who care — a lot of people — and we won’t let you down Theo.”
An article in The Daily Sentinel reported that TEDX executive director, Carol Kwiatkowski said Theo died at home surrounded by her family. “As with all great leaders, Theo’s inspiration lives on — in her published works, in the scientists she mentored and the activists she inspired, in the people she helped in so many ways, and in the love of her friends and family.”
Kwiatkowski added, “Theo’s immense courage was both intimidating and inspiring. Against all odds, she succeeded in getting the world to pay attention to an invisible threat. Yet there is much work still to be done.
“As TEDX’s executive director for the past six years I can assure you that we will continue with the same fierce commitment to ensuring that the science of endocrine disruption drives better laws to protect the health of all people.”
It was the late 1970s and Theo Colborn was, like pretty much everyone else in the ’70s, getting divorced. She was in her 50s and already retired from a career as a pharmacist.
She’d moved to a hobby farm that was close to the Rocky Mountain Biological Station Laboratory in Colorado and volunteered as a field researcher, sampling water and insects for signs that they were picking up toxins released by mining operations in the area. When she thought about what she should do next with her life, the answer that came to her was “become an expert in water sampling techniques.”
So Colborn went back to school. In 1985, at 58, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Ph.D. in zoology and minors in epidemiology, toxicology, and water chemistry. “I wanted to get the education,” she said, in a 1988 Frontline interview, “so that I could maybe undo some of the things that my generation basically foisted on society” …