News - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

About Marty Malin - from his family

| May 04, 2020

Marty Malin with his wife Hilary Rappaport and their sons Jacob and Nathan at the Fontana di Trevi in Rome.

Marty Malin with his wife Hilary Rappaport and their sons Jacob and Nathan at the Fontana di Trevi in Rome.

Letter from Hilary Rappaport, Jacob, and Nathan Malin

We are sad to announce that Martin Malin, beloved husband of Hilary Rappaport and father of Jacob and Nathan Malin, passed away on April 19 after a year and a half long battle with bile duct cancer.

 Marty grew up in San Diego, California, a place he returned to again and again. He loved his hometown for its excellent surf and Mexican food, and most importantly, because it served as a gathering place for his lifelong friends and his family: his siblings Aaron, Maxine, Jeri, and Zeena, along with their families, as well as his mother Ruth and his late father Harry and late brother Robert.

From a young age Marty was passionate about issues of global peace and justice. A graduate of UC Santa Cruz, where he may have logged almost as much surfing as studying time, he earned a degree in Middle East Studies. Marty went on to get a Masters of International Affairs (serving as editor-in-chief of the Journal of International Affairs) and a PhD in Political Science from Columbia University. Upon graduating, he taught International Relations, American Foreign Policy, and Middle East Politics at Columbia, Barnard, and Rutgers. It was also while at Columbia that he met Hilary, and they started a family while living near Morningside Park.

When Marty took a position at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, the family moved to Massachusetts. While there, he directed the Program on Science and Global Security, working closely with Carl Kaysen and John Steinbruner. As excellent a writer as he was a teacher, Marty was a co-author on the paper, “War with Iraq—Costs, Consequences and Alternatives” and he co-edited the American Academy Studies in Global Security book series (MIT Press).

In 2007, Marty began working as Executive Director of the Project on Managing the Atom at the Belfer Center at Harvard University, where he was proud to work with John Holdren, Matthew Bunn, and Steve Miller, among others.  Over the 13 years in which he wrote, organized conferences and outreach initiatives, and mentored scholars there, he helped to more than double the scale of the project.  He cared deeply about the fellows and staff in the program and played a key role in building community. He co-authored several reports on preventing nuclear terrorism, co-edited the 2018 book Preventing Black Market Trade in Nuclear Technology, and wrote frequently in venues ranging from newspapers to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Marty was passionate about his work and felt privileged to work with so many talented people trying to make the world a better place. He focused on issues of arms control and non-proliferation, from nuclear security to control of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

Marty put 150% into his work, even, in the last months of his life, from hospital beds in Massachusetts General and the MD Anderson Hospital in Houston. Yet nothing brought him more joy and pride or was more important to him than nurturing his family, whether it was Jacob’s passion for science and language or Nathan’s for the arts. Marty encouraged Hilary’s endeavors including founding a non-profit to support the local branch library and dramaturgy work at nearby theaters.  The whole family attended theater and arts events frequently and friends and colleagues enjoyed hearing Marty share his opinions about the many performances the family saw in Boston and New York. He was also a loving son-in-law, helping Hilary care for her aging mother, Yvonne, in their Arlington home for ten years until he became sick.

Marty heading into the surf.

Marty heading into the surf.

There are so many aspects of life Marty enjoyed to the fullest. He was an enthusiastic world traveler for his entire life, visiting East Asia and living in the Middle East during his college years.  In his professional career he traveled throughout the Middle East, Russia, China, and Europe, and with his family he went to the National Parks, cities across the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Switzerland, England, Spain, the Netherlands, and Italy. He was the self-appointed family chef and loved cooking for others. He also kept surfing his whole life, not just when he visited the West Coast but also on Cape Ann and in New Hampshire, eagerly seeking waves in his wetsuit even on the most frigid winter days. Music was important to him for his entire life.  He played the drums and the guitar from a young age, and was an avid concertgoer and record collector, with a wide range of interests from folk and Americana to rock and jazz. He almost always had music playing whether at home or traveling.  He delighted in sharing music with others and continued to sing and play with several groups of friends in the community, always creating beautiful harmonies up until the end.

Throughout his professional and personal life, Marty was passionate about building community, whether through local volunteer and political organizing, or the sharing of complex ideas, delicious food, great music, the beauty of nature, or simply a good time.

Many of you know how bravely Marty endured the various treatments for both his cancer and the ensuing complications and that he and his family were hoping he would get a liver transplant in Houston, where they had gone to live from the beginning of the year. He was courageous until the end, when he died peacefully, without pain or suffering.

Marty’s family would like to thank our dear friends and family who made meals for us, ran errands, checked in on us, wrote Marty loving emails, called, sent music playlists, and provided unwavering support, encouragement, and love.  We also wish to express our deep gratitude to the many doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers who provided excellent care.  Because we are living through a pandemic and cannot currently gather to celebrate Marty’s life, we hope that any of you who would like to say some words about Marty will send them in an email to Hilary, and, hopefully, in better days we can celebrate the man we loved, a true mensch who was modest to a fault.

Hilary, Jacob, and Nathan

Donations may be made in Marty’s memory to the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation or the Environmental Defense Fund.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:About Marty Malin - from his family.” News, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, May 4, 2020.