Robyn du Pre` Has Passed On

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Thu, Mar 12, 2015, 1:06 pm  //  John Servais

Robyn du Pre speaking at Orcas Island in February, 2014. Screen video grab. See link at end of article.

Robyn du Pre` was the real thing.  I remember one of the countless port public meetings on the waterfront where she just plain called bullshit on the port for making a charade of the public process.  They wanted to divide us into little groups and Robyn was having none of it.  She could speak strongly to their faces in a public meeting and not back down - and yet leave everyone feeling positive. She had a velvet hammer.  I envied that.  But much more, I admired this person who refused to be co-opted by the powers that be.  She put our local environment way above her own personal career.  She was the real thing. 

We all knew she had cancer but it still caught me and others I've talked to this morning by surprise.  As one said, he thought she was too tough to die young.   One person whom Robyn mentored suggested that instead of finding someone to write a comprehensive tribute or memorial to her, that I provide a starter and perhaps others will provide more.  So please add personal thoughts or stories about Robyn that you think others would enjoy or that you think we all should know.  Personal stories are always most appreciated.  

If you are not registered for commenting, I will respond as fast as possible to enabling your posting if you apply.  Perhaps someone can email a photo of her with permission for use here.  Actually, we can post several if they are sent.  

Related Links:

-> Video of Robyn presenting a report on abandoned net removals in the Salish Sea for the SeaDoc Society in February 2014.
-> Tribute to Robyn with photo of her recently - in Olympic Peninsula Environmental News.

Tip Johnson  //  Thu, Mar 12, 2015, 1:21 pm

What a stark reminder of the fragility of our time here. 

Just a week or two ago I ran into Robyn on the bus.  She didn’t recognize me for a minute because I’ve been growing my hair out and she was remembering me with a beard.  I missed her for a minute because she was wearing knit cap on her way home from chemo.  It was almost a joint senior moment as we sat across from one another and slowly realized who we were.  We chatted briefly.  I asked her how it was going and she said, “It’s going”, with a roll of her eyes that signified it was going, but not easy. But, in classic Robyn style, she did not complain.

I will always remember her because of her hard work, her unwavering commitment to community and environment, and her sly sense of humor.  I’ll remember her whizzing around the city on her bike.  I’ll remember her courage and wisdom in the public affairs she engaged.

Her passing is a great loss to us all.  She will be missed.


George Dyson  //  Thu, Mar 12, 2015, 2:52 pm

A sad loss of a true ally to all, not only her friends but also her adversaries, though they might not have known it at the time. I will always remember the very first words she wrote to me: “I am not a believer in letting mercury lie in the bay. I think that it should be removed.”


John Lesow  //  Thu, Mar 12, 2015, 3:56 pm

I did not know Robyn well, but I always admired her confident public speaking style and her advocacy for causes she believed in.  Her positive effect on others was palpable, at a forum, at a party or just out in the world.  She was also an excellent writer.  Whenever I saw an article by Robyn in the Whatcom Watch, I always knew it would be well-crafted and worth reading from start to finish. 

I recall Robyn speaking before a Bellingham City Council meeting a few years ago on Council’s handling of a water quality issue.  She wanted to get her point across without it sounding like criticism of the Councilmembers.  She prefaced her remarks by saying,  “Please don’t take this the wrong way, because I love you all…”  It was such an honest and classy moment, because every Councilmember knew that Robyn indeed loved them.  And they loved her. 

It is a rare person that can engage a forum in such an elegant and effective way. 

Robyn was that person.


Vince Biciunas  //  Thu, Mar 12, 2015, 8:17 pm

Robyn was a role model for us all, on how to get things done, with love.

She was our Baykeeper, head of Re-Sources, and advocate for the waterfront clean up when we all needed a heads up and education. And most recently, she spearheaded the initiative process to keep all 82 acres of Chuckanut Community Forest in public hands, by helping create the CCF Park District.

She will be sorely missed.


David MacLeod  //  Fri, Mar 13, 2015, 4:59 pm

Yes, Robyn will be greatly missed. She was a wise, caring, and very committed person. When I was in a leadership position with Sustainable Bellingham, I always enjoyed collaborating with Robyn at RE Sources; she was always supportive of our smaller, more grassroots non-profit. When we started Transition Whatcom, she was also supportive, and as well gave us some straight forward and extremely wise advice about fitting in to the ecology of sustainability groups in Whatcom County.

Others have mentioned her very excellent communication skills - that rare ability to be totally honest in sharing her feelings about an issue without personal blame or attack. I remember having a miscommunication with Robyn once that was totally my fault. Rather than ignoring it and carrying a grudge, she called me to share her feelings and to hear my side of the story. We cleared it up, and by the time the call ended I was thankful for the critique and the way it was delivered, and came away with an even greater level of respect for this woman.


Kris Berger Wilcox  //  Sat, Mar 14, 2015, 1:57 pm

She did indeed have a gift for respectful public engagement and an inner compass that kept her true to what mattered, without giving up an ounce of passion.  Robyn was a rare leader, and one of Bellingham’s best.  This hits hard. 
When you live in a small town like Bellingham, over the years you see life’s events as a slow parade—the unions, the births, the coming together and the breaking apart; colors fade, the lines and the gray strands slip in; people come and go, and some of them leave, like Robyn—and it just break your heart.  What I wouldn’t give to run into her one more time on a quiet, Bellingham afternoon.  It was always a pleasure.  Often I noticed her pearl earrings and couldn’t help thinking how they were some kind of reflection of her inner glow.  Robyn was a pearl in Bellingham’s oyster…
I hope the community can come together and find a way to honor her leadership and the person she was.  It would be nice to do it with a place, because clearly, Robyn had a sense of place.


Barbara Perry  //  Sun, Mar 15, 2015, 11:10 am

I like the idea to name Chuckanut Ridge after Robin.  She not only initiated the ridge but she also helped spark the leaving of Georgia Pacific Company, a company reputed to be the probable cancer culprit of many and now the nightmare clean up mess.  We need more like her to come up with the best ideas for clean up of all t he toxins that company left behind.

I worked with Robin years ago at Tony’s Coffee Shop before she became pregnant with Amanda.  My daughter remembers Robin helping Amanda and my daughter’s class bring salmon to Connelly Creek.  I remember Robin working with Huxley students to make Bellingham residents aware that Georgia Pacific, the greatest polluter in Bellingham, was getting water for a ridiculously small amount.  That group spear headed getting rid of GP and making it possible for residents and tourists to appreciate more of Bellingham’s waterway.  Hopefully more people will figure out ways to clean up this beautiful bay,
I saw Robin a week ago at the B Coop and she was looking so good I thought she would for sure fight the horrible fight so it is hard to accept she is gone.


Michael Chiavario  //  Mon, Mar 16, 2015, 2:35 pm

Robyn had a great mind, a great passion for her work, and most importantly great compassion. That is one reason that she had the respect of so many people of diverse interests in our community. Robyn tried to remain conscious of the need to act with respect and compassion toward others. I suspect that this came fairly easy to her, because she was at her core a kind human being.
Robyn was my next door neighbor and backyard chicken partner. I recall one day years ago when we met in the alley and she asked how I was doing. “Not very well”, I said. I was despairing over the general state of environmental degradation and the immediate struggle over Chuckanut Ridge. She gave me a big hug and a knowing look and a smile of understanding -she understood very well what I was experiencing. Later that day she loaned a book of Mary Oliver poetry to me - a perfect soothing gift.


Barbara Perry  //  Sun, Mar 22, 2015, 10:27 pm

Check out the Whatcom Watch April 2015 issue that lists the many WW articles she wrote over the years and also presents a fine one to live by.


Robyn du Pre` Has Passed On

Thu, Mar 12, 2015, 1:06 pm  //  John Servais

Add your thoughts and remembrances. Robyn du Pre` was a stalwart and true environmental advocate for Bellingham and Whatcom County. She died this week.

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