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John Topping, 77, dies; Early advocate for climate action

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In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore.

John Carruthers Topping Jr. was born April 18, 1943 in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, to John and Barbara Anne (Murray) Topping. His father was in the Air Force and he had a traveling childhood that took the family to Scotland, Colorado, Germany, Maine, Japan and Massachusetts.

He graduated from Dartmouth in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in international relations and received a law degree from Yale University in 1967.

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After serving in the Air Force as a Legal Officer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, he entered the Federal Government, working to promote minority-owned businesses on the Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprises and at the Office of Minority Business Enterprises, which is part of the ministry. of Commerce, chaired by Richard M. Nixon.

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Mr. Topping would later join the Reagan Administration, first in the Presidential Staff Office and then in the Environmental Protection Agency, where he served from 1982 to 1986, including two years as Director of Personnel of the Office of Air and Radiation. While at the agency, he embarked on efforts such as removing lead from gasoline and setting standards for particulate air pollution, as well as studying the risks of second-hand smoke. .

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He married Linda Thompson in 1974. They divorced in 2000. In addition to his daughter Elizabeth, he is survived by a brother, Dr. Trexler Topping; one son, John C. Topping III; another daughter, Alexandra Van Beek; and six grandchildren.

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“He saw solutions where other people saw only a problem,” said his ex-wife, Linda Thompson Gonzalez, who ran for the Florida House of Representatives last year, in an interview. She recalled that over the years, Mr. Topping was “clueless” about the lack of progress on climate change “when the solutions are there, right in front of you, and you are not doing the right thing.” But when he faced these frustrations, he “pulled out his yellow pillow,” she said. “He expressed his frustration in trying to come up with a solution and a convincing answer.”

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