Richard Erskine Frere Leakey, born to the famous paleoanthropologists Mary and Louis Leakey, passed away shortly after the start of the new year on January 2nd, in Kenya. Per the family’s wishes, we send our thoughts and well wishes to the Leakey family, and respect their request for distance, and time for mourning. We send them our most sincere condolences for the loss of such a grand gentleman who has changed the world over, and for the better.
You can read the statement put out by Samira, Richard’s youngest daughter, on behalf of the Leakey family here,
“On Sunday 2 January, we lost a true warrior, an individual so large in presence that he left a void that can never be filled. He has been described as iconic, and a force of nature, but to us he was Richard, Dad, and Babu.
As a family, we are enormously grateful for the outpouring of warmth and support that we have received from so many friends here in Kenya and across the world. It brings us great comfort to know how much his life meant to so many.
As we struggle to come to terms with our loss, we are respectfully asking for a few moments of privacy so that we can mourn as a family before we celebrate his extraordinary life as a son of Kenya. We are also conscious of the Covid19 protocol rules that have been advised by our national health authorities and so at this time, given the vulnerability of Richard’s widow Meave, we will not be allowing any visits to the home. The family also requests no flowers.
Arrangements have been made to have a condolence book at the offices of the National Museum and the KWS, where anyone wishing to express their condolences can visit. Tributes commemorating Richard can also be left online, using the following link to the ForeverMissed memorial site – https://www.forevermissed.com/richard-leakey/tributes
In keeping with Richard’s wishes, we, this afternoon, interred his body at a place of his choosing, on his favorite ridge overlooking the majestic Rift Valley that he so loved.
We will share our plans for celebration of his life in the coming days.
On behalf of the Leakey Family”
Richard lived a long, challenging, but very fruitful life that has been felt around the world, from his astonishing work in human origins, leading the teams that discovered such famous fossils as the nearly complete 1.6 million-year-old Homo erectus skeleton dubbed “Turkana Boy” KNM-WT 15000, as well as the “Black Skull” of Paranthropus aethiopithecus or KNM WT-17000 and the sapiens, remains at Omo Kibish, as well as stone tools finds at Lomekwi dating to 3.3 million years ago, making them the oldest stone tools yet found. His teams are also responsible for many finds at Koobi fora,
Aside from his paleoanthropological career, Dr. Leakey was known for his political and conservation know-how. Starting as a Safari guide, and finally becoming, and creating the Kenyan Wildlife Service in 1990, Richard was not only at the forefront of battling poachers and other challenges and dangers to the beauties of the Kenyan landscape, also fighting for the rights of the land, and the animals that inhabited it all over the continent. Fighting for elephants’ and rhinos’ existence in particular.
Almost meeting an early death on more than his fair share of occasions, Dr. Leakey passed away yesterday at the comfortable age of 77, survived by his wife Maeve, and daughters Anna, Louise, and Samira.
Per Dr. Lesley’s request, he has been laid to rest on a ridge overlooking possibly one of his most beloved places, a place made famous by his parents, and known now by the world as the birthplace of our species.
Rest In Peace Dr. Leakey