wordsmith and human being
February 12, 1951
April 6, 2017
A New Mexico-based writer, editor, publisher, media consultant, and photographer whose work is distributed via books, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, radio, and the Internet. His publishing website is Relham.com.
In his own words, written in June 2015:
“If you're reading this, Richard Mark Mahler is dead. Yes, really and truly deceased. He shed his worn out shell of a body on Friday, April 8th at the age of 66. His spirit is now happily exploring the universe and delighting in this brand-new adventure.
A resident of planet earth, Richard resided almost entirely in northern California until age 24, departing in 1975 before the state got too damn crowded. After that he called Wisconsin and New Mexico home. Sirens of love drew him back to coastal California briefly, but in 2007 New Mexico—its landscape and its people—again captured his heart for good.
Parented by teachers and arts advocates Mary Curnutte and Don Mahler, Richard took human form on February 12, 1951, in San Antonio, Texas. He had one sister, Claire Lyon, and three brothers: Bruce, Bob, and Darrell. Richard credited the short life of Darrell—who died of complications related to cerebral palsy at 15—for an early commitment to a life well and fully lived. His late wife, Stacey Austin, reinforced this (and the virtue of compassion) when she died of brain cancer in 2011 at 48. They had lived together less than five years, during half of which Richard was Stacey’s caregiver.
A Baby Boomer child of the turbulent Sixties and psychedelic Seventies, Richard earned a B.A. in Liberal Studies from the experimental Hutchins School at Sonoma State University (a.k.a. Granola U). He later obtained an M.A. in Journalism & Mass Communications from the straight-laced University of Wisconsin in Madison. Armed with these degrees, Richard taught college courses in media at schools in Wisconsin, California, and New Mexico. He applied to become a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War and supported nonviolent solutions to problems too often addressed by violence.
As a clever, shy, nearsighted, and unathletic kid, Richard found solace in reading, writing, radio, and exploring the natural world. In his teen years he used a garage printing press to print an underground newspaper, operated a ham radio station, became a rock-n-roll deejay, read hundreds of books, and spent many happy hours hiking, backpacking, climbing mountains, body-surfing, and messing around in creeks.
No surprise, then, that as an grownup Richard wrote books, wandered the world, was a radio news guy, and had particular affection for wild critters. Other than brief stints as a fulltime journalist, he was a self-employed freelancer all of his life. “For me,” he told friends, “having a job is like being in prison.” He interviewed hundreds of people, wrote thousands of stories (many for NPR and CBS), and found pure pleasure in satisfying his insatiable curiosity. After age 60, for example, he took up the baritone ukulele, became a book publisher, learned to build websites, and began monitoring backcountry wildlife with remote-control cameras.
After helping found the nation’s first bilingual public radio station in 1973, Richard learned Spanish and, more importantly, the joys of Latin culture, music, and dance. He traveled and danced throughout Latin America over the years, including a salsa tour of Cuba that, he claimed, “was like going to heaven.” Back home, he invariably joined the local “dance tribe” and for years on end he attended Zumba classes.
Richard’s spiritual beliefs were drawn heavily from Buddhism, Taoism, and Sufism. He was a vipassana meditator and yoga practitioner for much of his life and was a certified teacher of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.
As part of living well and fully, Richard nurtured relationships with many extraordinary friends, family members, and lovers. He tried to accept them for whatever they were, and to keep an authentic heart and open mind in dealing with them.”
Richard's life was enriched by love as he made a wonderful connection with Pamela Morgan, a longtime friend of both Richard and Stacey before her death. This friendship blossomed into romance. Richard and Pamela decided to move in together last year and planned an August wedding with loving joy.
Everyone who remembers him is encouraged to celebrate Richard’s life in his or her own way. Raising a glass of an adult beverage or donating something of value to a worthy cause or person would be entirely appropriate. Instead of flowers, Richard hoped that you would perform an unexpected and unsolicited act of kindness in his name.
Following cremation, Richard’s ashes will be scattered, as he requested, in the Pacific Ocean, New Mexico mountains, and his backyard compost pile.
His Silver City Celebration of Life and memorial was on May 15 at 11am at Gomez Peak group picnic area on Little Walnut Rd.
All of Richard's family and friends are welcome to come to a Celebration of Richard's life to be held in Santa Fe on June 25th from 1-6pm at Hyde Park Lodge in Hyde Memorial State Park. Please contact Annie Muriel at 979-292-5910 for more information.
Richard Mark Mahler 2/12/51-4/9/17
See the latest photos from Richard's ongoing surveys of New Mexico flora and fauna by scrolling through the Wildlife tab under the Images page. Recognizing his work in faithfully monitoring backcountry cameras, Richard was named Volunteer of the Year for 2014 by the Wildlife Land Trust of the Humane Society of the United States. He also conducts photo surveys of wildlife for the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, and private landowners. For a closer look at more of his "trail cam" imagery, click to Mahler's newmexicowildlifephotos.com website.
If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be . . .The people cannot be safe without information. Where the press is free and every man [and woman] able to read, all is safe.
Recent Journalism Projects
Saving El Morro's Inscriptions, broadcast during 2016 as part of the ongoing Earth Notes public radio series. Learn about how experts are trying to save threatened historic inscriptions on the massive sandstone cliff near Zuni, New Mexico. Read or listen here. For over 14 years Richard has contributed dozens of environment-oriented stories to Earth Notes, which airs on KNAU Flagstaff and KUNM Albuquerque, among other stations...Read Cats Along the Border, Richard's article describing bi-national efforts to save native Southwest jaguars along the U.S.-Mexico border, published May 30, 2016, in High Country News magazine (print and on-line). A longer iteration of this article appeared in the fall 2016 issue of Earth Island Journal. Read it here.
Recent Publishing Projects
Cloak and Jaguar: Following a Cat from Desert to Courtroom, written by Janay Brun, with editing and interior design by Richard, was published in October 2015 by his Relham LLC. This gripping 386-page memoir by whistleblower Brun describes the botched, illegal snaring of the only wild jaguar in the US—and how government conservation agencies were let off the hook by investigative authorities in the subsequent tragic death of Macho B. Buy a copy or read more here. New titles in 2016 from Relham include David MacPhail's Diamonds of Time; Caryl Say's God of Magic, Child of Light; and Hypnotizing Chickens: My Memories of Mogollon, by Jan Sherman in collaboration with Charlie McKee.
Get A GRIP is the quarterly 8-page newsletter of the Gila Resources Information Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving, nurturing, and protecting human communities and natural resources (including the threatened yet still undammed Gila River) in southwestern New Mexico. Edited, designed, and partially written by Richard; read the Fall 2016 issue here.
Recent Fiction Book
How I Found the Best Sex Ever: A Sara Strong Mystery, published by Relham. Read a synopsis and reviews of this 251-page paperback on the Books page, or purchase a copy here. This bawdy tale of a celebrity gone missing and a female love potion found begins in Los Angeles, but soon shifts to the desert Southwest and jungles of Guatemala.
Recent Non-Fiction Book
The Jaguar's Shadow: Searching for a Mythic Cat, published by Yale University Press. Read reviews, a synopsis, and an excerpt, or buy a copy here. Learn about Richard's quixotic quest to see a jaguar in the wild as he explores the wildest places between Arizona and South America. This is the definitive description of the jaguar's natural and human-related history for the lay reader.
© Content copyright 2017 by Richard Mahler. All rights reserved.