Date: 8/3/17 1:45 pm From: 'Derek and Jeannette Lovitch' via Maine birds <maine-birds...> Subject: [Maine-birds] Stella Walsh
As you now know, Stella Walsh passed away early in themorning on Saturday, July 29, 2017. After a long battle with cancer, Stella’ssudden passing was both expected and incredibly unexpected. It’s taken me thislong to know what to say, and honestly, I still don’t know what to say.
Frankly, we never thought we’d see the day that cancer wouldwin. Perhaps hardened by years on the football sidelines with her legendarycoaching father, Stella was tougher than nails. And stubborn as a mule. Shenever gave up, and she never stopped fighting. Recently, she was even makingplans for a new treatment regime to help her through another fall of banding atRiverpoint Preserve.
We’ll leave it to others for a more formal obituary, and anypublic service or memorial arrangements will follow, but we wanted to take amoment today to share what Stella has meant to us, and the entire Maine birding community.Since her retirement from the Division of Health and Human Services, alwaysfighting to get people the care they needed, Stella’s energy went into her loveof birds and birding. She was an uber-volunteer, and seemed to never tire aboutgiving back and helping out. From answering phones at Maine Audubon to enteringdecades of other people’s data into eBird. From editing the newsletter ofMerrymeeting Audubon to doing, well, almost anything Merrymeeting ever neededher to do. From countless hours of “fondling” birds at banding projects aroundthe state to shuttling young birders to their next life bird
In the last couple of years, it was other birders,especially Becky Marvil, that did the shuttling for her. Chases were few, butoutings were always welcomed. She found renewed joy in bird-feeding, relishingthe variety of birds that were finally coming to her new window feeders in her Yarmouth condo. Jeannetteand I saw her regularly once again, always with a story of new, site-unexpectedspecies visiting the insect suet cake.
Stella was one of the first people who welcomed us into the Maine birding communitywhen we moved here 14 years ago. Among countless other jobs, paid and unpaid,that Stella performed after retirement was a couple of years working for us atour old store in Yarmouth.But she was the first to admit that she’d rather be birding than talking to thebirding public about squirrel-proofing!
She had become a fixture at Sandy Pointin the fall, Stella would work the two corners of the parking lot from her carwindow – cigarette and cup of lousy coffee always nearby. If I was still on thebridge when she left, she would block traffic as long as she needed in order tochat, and complain about how few birds she was seeing that day. Someincarnation of “I guess I probably could look up though, some day?” would oftenbe how she left off. I know it is going to hit me hard this fall, when, afterthe first big flight at “my office,” I don’t see her black SUV in the corner. It’llfeel empty; I think only then will this loss really hit me. It’s even her photoof me there that was used in my first book.
I could share countless stories and accolades, but instead,I will offer one anecdote (Stella wouldn’t want us to get mushy anyway). Stellajoined a group of us at our store for a meeting several years ago which turnedout to be with the producers of a thank-heavens-never-developed birding realityshow. They were looking for “Mainebirding characters” (Stella would have her photo next to that entry in thedictionary). Stella stood their quietly, listening, and then at one point, says“F*** this!” and tells the associate producer what a terrible idea this was,and basically insinuated that this was the downfall of modern society. Ofcourse, she was right on both accounts.
Stella storms out the door, and the producer,unsurprisingly, had fallen in love and she says to me, “What do we need to doto get her back?” My answer was “It’s Stella, she ain’t coming back.”“Seriously, but if we…” “Nope, it is not going to happen, she’s not changingher mind.”
It’s taken me the week to pull my thoughts together aboutthis, especially after talking to people she was mucch closer to. Even if you’venever had the pleasure of meeting Stella, she’s meant more to you, as a memberof the Mainebirding community, than you’ll ever know. While a little gruff on the outside,her heart was as big as anyone you’ll ever meet. It’s often cliché to say thatsomeone was an inspiration, but sometimes it’s simply correct. She did so much- even as she fought so hard – for almost everyone else. “Relax” was really notsomething in her vernacular.
So thank you for reading, and hopefully this was a goodstart to honoring and remembering the great Stella Walsh.
Sincerely, and truly,Jeannette and Derek Lovitch
***************************************** Derek and Jeannette Lovitch Freeport Wild Bird Supply 541 Route One, Suite 10 Freeport, ME 04032 207-865-6000 www.freeportwildbirdsupply.com ****************************************