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G. Lindsay Mattison '63

Surrounded by loving family, Gorman Lindsay Mattison died peacefully on Saturday, February 25, 2017, in Fort Washington, MD from complications arising from pneumonia. He was 77 and suffered from dementia. He lived an extraordinary life, devoted to world peace, environmental defense and social, economic and political justice.


Born July 6, 1939, in Worcester, MA to Gorman Exxus Mattison ‘28 and Dorothy Boyd Mattison ‘29, Lindsay, as he was known to all, grew up in Black Mountain, NC, where his father worked in the Black Mountain College administration and his mother was a journalist.

Upon graduation from Antioch, he went to work for scientist and activist Barry Commoner at Washington University in St. Louis, where he worked on the dangers of nuclear fallout and participated in the famous baby tooth survey report that showed greatly elevated levels of strontium -90 in baby teeth as a result of atmospheric nuclear testing. With Linda Robinson ’61, he co-wrote the Politics of Escalation in Vietnam, issued in 1966 nationwide as a White Paper addressed to the president about the false premises underlying the escalating war in Vietnam. In 1967 he helped start Business Executives Move for Vietnam Peace. In 1971 he founded the Center for Defense Information, led by retired senior military officers, to provide alternative analysis of U.S. defense budgets.


Lindsay was a visionary and institution builder, albeit with an anarchist streak, who helped to fundraise for and build many other groups. In 1977 in Washington, DC, he founded the International Center for Development Policy, later known as the International Center, where he remained for the next 30 years. Despite a modest public profile, the Center played historic roles in world events. He authored several reports on the perils of nuclear power and nuclear waste, including the danger of locating nuclear power plants in the quake and tsunami prone Pacific region. Under the Center’s auspices, with Ambassador Bob White, he founded the Commission on US-Latin American Relations and did groundbreaking investigations in El Salvador and Nicaragua on what would be known as the Iran-Contra scandal. He visited Cuba several times looking to further bilateral relations. Beginning in 1989, the Center's US-Vietnam Trade Council, led by Ambassador Bill Sullivan and Virginia B. Foote, was instrumental in normalizing relations between the US and Vietnam.


Lindsay embraced people and causes others shunned. When in exile, future South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, the future Philippine foreign minister Raul Manglapus, South African apartheid exiles and Taiwanese opposition leaders all found homes and organizational support at the Center. With particular passion, Lindsay facilitated negotiations between the Soviet Union and the Mujahedeen on Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and worked with officials at the highest levels of Mikhail Gorbachev’s government, hoping to help build the infrastructure for settling proxy wars and regional conflicts. In 2005 he founded International Action, which has provided life-saving, environmentally sustainable clean water systems to hundreds of thousands of Haitian citizens.
Lindsay was a world-class conversationalist: brilliant and funny, sarcastic, curious and probing about everything, a great listener as well as storyteller. But he also treasured solitude. A voracious reader and a birder since his boyhood in Black Mountain, he was most at peace in the natural world he fought so hard to protect.


He is survived by three daughters: Elizabeth Mattison, Jeanne Mattison and Laura Foote Clark; granddaughters Yasmina Mattison Sudan and Liliana Heimbauer; sons-in-law Matt Heimbauer and Alan Clark; and by former spouses Linda B. Robinson, Jeanne V. Gayler and Virginia B. Foote.