Eve Malo, a well-known social activist and professor emerita at the University of Montana Western in Dillon, died on March 5 in San Luis Obispo, Calif., after a long battle with cancer.
Malo left behind a legacy of good work, a loving family, and a plethora of former students and colleagues who said she inspired them by a life well lived.
Among her many accomplishments, Malo, 84, published a book, “Dynamite Women: The Ten Women Nobel Peace Laureates of the 20th Century,” and she was a fierce advocate of ending the death penalty. She also served as Montana’s coordinator for Amnesty International.
At the age of 71, she traveled Montana in a pick-up truck with a friend drumming up support to abolish the death penalty. For this work, she and her friend, Claire Sinclair, were awarded the 2001 ACLU Jeannette Rankin Civil Liberties Award and the Jeannette Rankin Peace Award from Rocky Mountain College Institute for Peace Studies.
Professor Julie Bullard, Malo’s colleague and friend at Montana Western, knew Malo for over 30 years.
“One of the things that made Eve so special is she lived her beliefs,” Bullard said.
Bullard first met Malo at Montana State University-Northern, Havre, where Malo taught before coming to UMW, and where Bullard was doing her graduate work. Bullard said she was inspired by the example and support of Malo.
“I admired that she had a lot of tenacity,” Bullard said. “She finished her doctorate as a single parent of nine children. I figured if she could do it with nine, I could do it with four.”
Bullard also valued Malo’s friendship.
“She was a really good friend,” Bullard said. “She totally accepted you. You could tell her anything and she wouldn’t judge you.
Bullard and Malo co-wrote a book titled, “Montana Kindergarten Handbook: Self Concept Through Developmentally Appropriate Practices.”
Malo began working at Montana Western in 1987, teaching literacy and early-childhood education classes. She also helped develop the study of restorative justice in the history, philosophy, and social sciences department.
“She was a strong spokesperson for women, minorities, the poor — anyone that was socially oppressed,” Montana Western Provost Karl Ulrich said. “She was an intense, caring, and energetic person. Not everyone always agreed with her, but everyone respected her.”
Bullard said Malo’s interest in social justice stemmed from a core belief of fairness.
“She believed in a simple lifestyle,” Bullard said. “She didn’t believe that some people should have a lot, while others not have very much.”
Though she lived for many years in Montana, Malo also traveled a great deal. She taught for a year in Nicaragua and China. And as a child in the 1930s, she lived with her mother in Europe, where she was schooled and learned three languages.
She received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Stanford, a master’s in cultural studies from Adams State College in Colorado, and a doctorate in education from the University of New Mexico.
Malo also journeyed around the world to interview the 20th century women who had won the Nobel Peace Prize. Lisa Bullard, the daughter of Julie, said Malo was a huge presence in her childhood and throughout her life.
“It’s very sad news,” Lisa Bullard said. “Eve had a major influence on me. For every birthday she bought me a book. It was always the perfect book for what stage of life I was in. Our relationship evolved, and as I grew older she was always encouraging me and pushing me to do my best.”
Lisa Bullard said she helped Malo with her book about Nobel Prize winners, and that once when she had trouble tracking down and interviewing one of the award winners — Jody Williams, in Vermont — that she was motivated by Malo’s tenacity.
“I just knew I had to do it for Eve,” Lisa Bullard said. “She never gave up.”
— Reporter Francis Davis can be reached at email@example.com