Lois Garlick was our hero

Lois Garlick has died. For many decades, she and George served as environmental stewards and leaders in preserving wildlife and nature.

Lois Garlick has died. For many decades, she and George served as environmental stewards and leaders in preserving wildlife and nature.

• Topics: Environment, People,

Lois Garlick died peacefully in her sleep on June 28 at age 95.  She and her husband George, who died several years ago, were awarded the first Environmental Heros award by Re-Sources.  It was obvious and symbolic.  Their environmental stewardship predated by decades the beginning of the modern enviro movement in the early 1970s.  They were called conservationists in the old days - but their efforts served as a model for many of today's environmental leaders.  They were steadfast and action oriented.  They were also very effective.  They helped save Chuckanut Island from development and they acted as the legal stewards of the island for decades, protecting in practice what had been protected legally.  Their accomplishments were many - and most of their efforts are still serving our enviromental needs today.  

A memorial for Lois will be held on Friday, July 10, 11 am, at the Broadway Hall on the corner of West Holly (Eldridge Ave) and Broadway - named for decades as the Aftermath Club.  Lois attended many community gatherings at this fine meeting hall.

Here are a couple tributes from those who knew Lois.  We invite more from readers as comments.

From Tim Paxton:

Lois Garlick passed away last week after a long and active career as a leader in Whatcom County environmentalism.   Her resume of care and concern for protecting water, ecosystems, animals and birds in our corner of the country is extensive and unmatched.

Lois was active in rescuing injured raptors (hawks/eagles) and re-habilitating wild ones for release. Lois and husband George were long time stewards of Chuckanut Island, helping keep it safe for birds.

In 2007 at age 87, Lois surprised many by filing at the last minute for the office for County Executive vs Pete Kremen.  She gained credible number of votes County wide and campaigned with vigor to keep the pressure on the incumbent.

A few years previous, Lois was also active in running the Clean Water Alliance and its multi year law suit to halt the creation of the incorporated City of Sudden Valley in the reservoir amongst many other actions to protect our drinking water.

Lois Garlick was born in 1920 in Seattle Washington to Myron and Hazel Buckman. She grew up in the Queen Anne neighborhood and later obtained a degree in Biology at the University of Washington.

Husband George and Lois often worked together. They shared a mutual love of science, the environment and boating and married in 1972. They were involved with the early development of Shoreline Management Act and later the Bellingham based Clean Water  Alliance.

Together they also helped begin the North Cascades Audubon Society chapter in the 1970s and worked to protect birds and wildlife in the area.  Long time board member and editor of the Avalanche was also an artist and provided drawings for Al Hanner’s Whatcom birding book.  Lois also operated Raptor Roost, a bird rehabilitation care center, for many years and, with her husband George, volunteered as a steward of the Chuckanut Island Preserve. They were active in public education as well.

From Sherilyn Wells:

From the first moment I saw Lois Garlick in action, decades ago, so calm, 
intelligent, honest, deeply caring, and courageous, standing up for the 
environment and its inhabitants - the birds and animals that she was 
frequently called upon to care for - I knew that I was in the presence of 
quiet greatness. She was always civil, always respectful, always interested 
in sound information, but firmly stood her ground when she felt that her 
stand on an issue was correct.

In some ways, she reminded me of leaders like Gandhi, who inhabit a moral 
high ground that the rest of us aspire to reach, yet which she expressed so 
naturally, so instinctually, because it arose simply out of who she was.

It was my privilege to call her a friend, a mentor, and a partner in various 
endeavors. Her contributions are too enormous to attempt to set down on 
paper, in part because she imbued so many of those efforts with a humble 
beauty of spirit that inspired the rest of us, that set a high bar - which 
remains to this day - regarding how to be a "peaceful warrior" in defense of 
what matters, to put what calls to your heart first and foremost in your 
life as you reach crossroads and choose paths.

Thanks to Tim Paxton and Sherilyn for their words and the photos.  I would welcome a few more photos of Lois from readers. 

Correction: an earlier version gave a wrong attribution above.  

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About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Ellen Murphy

Jul 09, 2015

Some say they want to be taken up in the rapture. Lois wouldn’t say that, but she may well be lifted on her way by the raptor. Maybe one whose life she saved. Maybe thousands of them, along with other birds, accompany her on her last journey.

Somehow I ended up becoming Lois’s campaign manager when, at 87, she said, “Well, I went in at the last minute to see who was running, and no one was, so I signed up.” But it was a joy ride in the truest sense.

I wonder if Lois is survived, besides by her great family, by her pet chicken, “Speck,” who wandered happily around her house. Lois is the perfect model for a true and effective activist:  no interfering ego, but a quiet and simple determination, based in knowledge of the highest order, and a grasp of the language of the living earth and sky.


Gloria Treviño Newman

Jul 10, 2015

Our precious friend, Lois Garlick, has died and we will miss her very much.  I knew her as a sprite and a charmer who could never say No to a good cause. In addition to best friend, she was a mechanic, an artist, a musician, a biologist, a bird lady, and a highly intelligent, educated woman, way ahead of her time.

She and George embodied Whatcom County culture and wove into it for long lifetimes their lives and boundless gifts.

I was honored to help them create and establish The George Garlick and Lois Buckman Garlick Collections at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies at WWU. Their life stories and papers are stored there forever for anyone to research and see. In this way, they will continue to share their history, their knowledge and love.

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