This is a lovely tribute, Derek and Jeannette. Thank you.
Sent from my iPad
> On Aug 3, 2017, at 4:45 PM, 'Derek and Jeannette Lovitch' via Maine birds <maine-birds...> wrote:
> As you now know, Stella Walsh passed away early in the morning on Saturday, July 29, 2017. After a long battle with cancer, Stella’s sudden passing was both expected and incredibly unexpected. It’s taken me this long 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 would win. Perhaps hardened by years on the football sidelines with her legendary coaching father, Stella was tougher than nails. And stubborn as a mule. She never gave up, and she never stopped fighting. Recently, she was even making plans for a new treatment regime to help her through another fall of banding at Riverpoint Preserve.
> We’ll leave it to others for a more formal obituary, and any public service or memorial arrangements will follow, but we wanted to take a moment 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, always fighting to get people the care they needed, Stella’s energy went into her love of birds and birding. She was an uber-volunteer, and seemed to never tire about giving back and helping out. From answering phones at Maine Audubon to entering decades of other people’s data into eBird. From editing the newsletter of Merrymeeting Audubon to doing, well, almost anything Merrymeeting ever needed her to do. From countless hours of “fondling” birds at banding projects around the 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, but outings were always welcomed. She found renewed joy in bird-feeding, relishing the variety of birds that were finally coming to her new window feeders in her Yarmouth condo. Jeannette and I saw her regularly once again, always with a story of new, site-unexpected species visiting the insect suet cake.
> Stella was one of the first people who welcomed us into the Maine birding community when 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 at our old store in Yarmouth. But she was the first to admit that she’d rather be birding than talking to the birding public about squirrel-proofing!
> She had become a fixture at Sandy Point in the fall, Stella would work the two corners of the parking lot from her car window – cigarette and cup of lousy coffee always nearby. If I was still on the bridge when she left, she would block traffic as long as she needed in order to chat, and complain about how few birds she was seeing that day. Some incarnation of “I guess I probably could look up though, some day?” would often be how she left off. I know it is going to hit me hard this fall, when, after the first big flight at “my office,” I don’t see her black SUV in the corner. It’ll feel empty; I think only then will this loss really hit me. It’s even her photo of 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). Stella joined a group of us at our store for a meeting several years ago which turned out to be with the producers of a thank-heavens-never-developed birding reality show. They were looking for “Maine birding characters” (Stella would have her photo next to that entry in the dictionary). 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. Of course, 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 do to 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 changing her mind.”
> It’s taken me the week to pull my thoughts together about this, especially after talking to people she was mucch closer to. Even if you’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Stella, she’s meant more to you, as a member of the Maine birding 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 that someone 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 not something in her vernacular.
> So thank you for reading, and hopefully this was a good start 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
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