Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Remembering Helen Engle


Helen Engle (2015) United Methodist Women
Remembering Helen Engle
February 18, 1926 - March 11, 2019
A mighty oak has fallen.’ Helen Engle, a giant of conservation, has died Craig Sailor reports. (News Tribune of Tacoma)

We remember activist and friend Helen Engle and welcome others who wish to share their memories. Please email to msato@salishseacom.com to have your memories added.

 "Helen was such a vital, positive inspiration and mentor to all of us working to preserve and protect our natural world. A great cedar – long lasting and beautiful." --Marcy Golde

"Margaret Mead said 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.' Helen Engle proved that true, along with many of the friends offering tributes here. A few years ago, Helen hosted a fundraiser for The Whale Trail. My favorite part was walking through her yard as she told the story of every bird, bush and tree. A place well-tended, as were we. I will always be inspired by her fearlessness and the example she set of a life well-lived." --Donna Sandstrom

"What a life well lived. I first met her when serving on the Wildlife Diversity Advisory Committee for WDFW some years back. I was immediately blown away at this feisty older woman who was so sharp and so committed. Finding out she was Bill Engle’s mom was just icing on the cake! Helen seemed to have never lost her passion for taking care of this amazing place. I hope I can be so lucky and have such an impact." --Joe Gaydos

"Helen was a most valuable supporter of the preservation of one of the last prairies in Thurston County. She attended one of the “field-trips’ I had organized to introduce the site and encourage the preservation.  Her supporting letter to the County Commissioner, Les Eldridge is attached. Helen’s letter was the most personal of all.  It must have made an important impression." --Hans A. Littooy

[The letter says, in part, "...Today we revisited the Black River trough from Black Lake to near the confluence of the Black with the Chehalis. This is my home turf and I love it -- the land forms, the watery places, the plant material, all of it. I especially love it in winter, for some obscure reason sensed only by natives of the wet side of Washington..."]

"Some people leave ripples, Helen Engle left a wake behind her that will inspire generations to come." --Stephanie Buffum

“She was such a wonderful person! So well read and articulate.”--Ellen Gray

"Helen Engle is a legend in her own time, an incomparable leader who compelled you to action simply by being in her presence.  Since our days together at People for Puget Sound, she continued to be my friend and mentor.  When I emailed her for guidance, her response was instant and informed.  When we met for casual lunches, she would arrive with a handwritten scrap of paper containing all of the environmental issues she wanted to cover – “lunches” would last several hours!  She has left this world a better place for all of us." --Melissa Mager

“What an amazing, positive, forceful, indomitable, wonderful human being. Helen was a force of nature. From saving the Nisqually Delta from a superport to its remarkable restoration, helping to spark Commencement Bay cleanup, chairing People For Puget Sound, and many more, Helen gave so much of herself to the Salish Sea — not to mention her local, state and national work with Audubon and her mentoring and inspiration to young and old.” -- Ken Weiner

"It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without Helen Engle, whose 93 years were all too short. I met her when I was a child and she was a young member of a group of women water color artists that included my grandmother. Little did I know then that she would become my hero, my mentor, and best of all, my friend. A true leader who fought the good fight while always staying positive, Helen was everything the world needed, and still does. RIP." --Kathy Fletcher

“A heroic force in focusing the public's responsibility for conserving, restoring and sustaining our diverse Pacific Northwest environments.  It is now very interesting for me to consider and recognize how consistently significant women were and are in the environmental movement here and elsewhere.  Heroic and certainly under appreciated.   Like Polly Dyer, Hazel Wolf and Vim Wright, (and others) Helen was something of a pioneer in the environmental movement in Washington. If I attended a hearing, conference or planning session on an environmental issue in Western Washington, Helen was there raising questions, posing arguments and networking on behalf of our natural heritage. Rather heroic to say the least.

As a Supervisor of Environmental Education for Washington State for nearly 35 years, I counted on Helen's leadership for our Environmental Education Council.  Her bright intellect and energy went a long way in seeing that our goals and guidelines and statutes, related to our field, were enacted by the legislature in Olympia and adopted by school districts-- not an easy task then or now.  The balanced and inclusive nature of our curriculum content was likewise influenced by her recommendations and insights.

I have enormous gratitude and admiration for Helen's enduring persistence and generous work on behalf of the lands and waters that we call home.  Her understanding and support of environmental education has been key to establishing a citizenry that can make informed and wise decisions regarding the stewardship of our natural resources.” --Tony Angell, Artist/Naturalist

“It is hard to imagine this world without Helen. She brought joy and fun to everything she did, no matter how serious (like saving Puget Sound). For all her remarkable work and remarkable nature, she was humble and always more interested in hearing about you rather than talking about herself. I got to know her almost 30 years ago as one of the progenitors of People For Puget Sound, in fact the very first Board President. During my hiatus from PFPS, I worked for Audubon as Director of the National Wetlands Campaign. Helen was on the Board of National Audubon those years, and I was at many a meeting and many a fun weekend with Helen, and she always carried the day. Seeing Helen and Hazel Wolf at work together on some urgent conservation threat was a thing of beauty. Like I said, it's hard to imagine the world without Helen.” --Naki Stevens

“I treasure the times we spent together and her periodic responses and comments to the Salish Sea News clips, our days at the founding and growth of People For Puget Sound, those years at Citizen Lobby Days in the tar pits of Olympia. Her enthusiasm and positive attitude were both instructive and infectious.  She was born in ‘26, was an early adopter of email and one of the earliest subscribers to and supporter of the Salish Sea News blog. I thought she was immortal. Vim Wright, Joan Thomas, Polly Dyer, Hazel Wolf-- and now Helen. I have learned and worked in the company of giants.” –Mike Sato





3 comments:

  1. We have lost a true force of nature. Helen was a model we could all aspire to. Her example not only lives on in the work she accomplished on behalf of the environment but in her own family tree through her children and grandchildren as well. I have vivid memories of gatherings in her lush oasis of a backyard, scheming with colleagues that resulted in precedential oil spill legislation that continues to protect the Salish Sea. I hope that her life serves to inspire retirees in particular to recognize the legacy they can leave. Having observed the ravages of climate change firsthand you have unique standing to call for more urgent action having born witness to our failure to respond to the magnitude of the challenge before of us and especially to those who follow. Thank you Helen for sharing your indominable spirit with us all. Fred Felleman

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  2. I had no idea of the extent of Helen's influence. I knew her from the Yakima Audubon camp outs at the Wenas Creek every Memorial Day weekend. She would contact me to make sure my friend Tom Holz and I would provide the music and leadership for the sing alongs around the campfire. Her joy and enthusiasm were always a gracious contribution to those gatherings. Susan Anderson

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  3. I lost a very dear, long-time friend and colleague with the passing of Helen Engle. A towering conservationist, her voice for the wild will be missed. No one can count the many selfless hours she gave to save the natural world that she so loved. Helen Engle my dear friend, you leave a huge hole that cannot be filled, but we will try to do so, in your honor. Audubon in Washington will never be the same! I was so very fortunate to have amazing women mentors in my life, and you were at the top of the class. RIP, good friend.

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