Mary Leakey, born Mary Douglas Nicol in London on Feb. 6, 1913, was the daughter of landscape painter, Erskine Nicol, and Cecilia Frere. She was one of the world's most renowned hunters of early human fossils and married her colleague, Louis Leakey. Together and separately they stunned the scientific world with their finds. Mary Leakey died in Nairobi, Dec. 9, 1996, at the age of 83. She smoked stogies and enjoyed seeing her favorite dog “chomp” people who didn’t like anthropologists, according to Scientific American. She is science’s version of Katherine Hepburn, except Leakey was a mom.
Most reporters will tell you that the crowning triumphs of her career were the 1972 discovery (with her husband) of 1.75-million-year-old remains from Homo habilis at Olduvai Gorge and the 1978 discovery of 3.6-million-year-old footprints at Laetoli, both in Tanzania.
However, as the mother of four boys, I think she pretty much wrote the book on how to best raise boys to be remarkable men. Philip Leakey says he was glad to have the rare opportunity to talk about his mother as a mother and not a scientist.
Mary Leakey’s appears to be a parenting technique that worked wonders for all three of her sons. Philip’s eldest brother Jonathan is a businessman and former palaeoanthropologist who runs Jonathan Leakey Ltd., which supplies East African snake venoms and plants for antivenom manufacturers. Richard Leakey became a politician, paleoanthropologist, and conservationist after entering the family business of paleoanthropology not only in field research and discoveries, but also as the director of the National Museums of Kenya (NMK). He is now a member of the department of anthropology faculty at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.