A Legacy of Civic Involvement
Remembering Lois Garlick
by Sally Hewitt
Sally Hewitt, former longtime editor of Whatcom Watch, visited Lois weekly to help with Raptor Roost and to enjoy lunch and friendship with Lois and George. Sally’s mother graduated from Seattle’s Queen Anne High School with Lois, thus the familial connection.
Lois Garlick passed away on June 28 but left a lasting legacy. Her civic involvement ran the gamut, from creating the North Cascades Audubon Society Chapter in 1970 to working on the Shoreline Management Act. She also led the Clean Water Alliance and worked to preserve Bellingham’s Scudder Pond and rehabilitate wildlife. The list goes on and on.
Lois avidly supported Whatcom Watch through donations, assisting the staff, and loaning her environmental information files and expertise. Her shoes will not easily and may never be filled.
Lois’ late husband, George, assisted her in many of these efforts but preferred to stay out of the limelight. Lois tirelessly assisted George in his stewardship of Chuckanut Island, a short boat ride from their home on Chuckanut Point Road. They walked down the many wooden steps to their dock and boated over to check out Chuckanut Island, a preserve protected by The Nature Conservancy. Both avid birders, they reveled in the birdlife and beauty of the island and bay.
Their home sat high above the rocky coastline with a gazebo to the south that faced Pleasant Bay. Behind the gazebo to the east stood Lois’ bird rehabilitation pens, constructed lovingly by George.
While Lois tended to wounded birds, ranging from songbirds to pigeons to barred owls to hawks, George worked in their garage, building nest boxes for the North Cascades Audubon western bluebird project. (Volunteers nailed the boxes to conifers up in the Mt. Baker area until bluebirds stopped nesting in the region.)
A tribute to Lois, some of the birds she rehabilitated stayed near their home. “Pidge” was a frequent visitor, flying in when Lois called the pigeon. Pidge loved to sit atop Lois’ head as she rowed over to Chuckanut Island.
Visitors could watch Lois in action as she tended to her wounded patients by feeding them with an eyedropper or splinting a broken leg with a popsicle stick in her gazebo workshop. She was the original “wildlife whisperer.”
When not working with her wounded cohorts, Lois could be found drawing or painting in the gazebo or helping George on a project. She also played the violin and joined a local quartet which included Helen Brandt, a former Whatcom Watch editor.
Or Lois might be in attendance at a city or county council meeting testifying about environmental issues, all the while keeping in touch with her adult children and grandchildren.
She saved newspaper articles about issues of interest to her: namely Lake Whatcom water quality and the Shoreline Management Act. Her files overflowed.Whatcom Watch writers sometimes looked through her papers for information pertinent to upcoming articles.
Back in the days when Lois worked in the biology department at WWU, she created and managed the North Cascades Audubon newsletter mailing list on the school computer, updating the list with new members and deleting members who did not re-subscribe. This was a major undertaking in pre-database days.
Lois was instrumental in forming the North Cascades Audubon Chapter in 1970 along with Seattle Audubon icon Hazel Wolf, George Garlick, Terry Wahl, Paul Tholfsen and a few others (thanks to Paul Woodcock for the information). Lois’ first NCAS undertaking was the newsletter.
About this same time she began pioneering in wildlife rescue and rehab, which she did through NCAS for about 20 years. She named her business Raptor Roost and obtained an easy phone number for people to remember, 676-9111.
Lois continued her bird rehab work even when she and George moved into town to be closer to medical facilities. Her cages lined their patio on Lynn Street, and she often brought the birds inside during cold weather. Their garage served as her workshop and winter bird refuge.
After George passed on, Lois adopted a black and white speckled bantam chicken, appropriately named Speck. Speck and her dog Ginger had the run of the house and Lois beamed while watching them cavort.
Thinking of future generations, Lois and George donated their family papers to the Goltz-Murray State Archives, housed in the building across from WWU on the corner of Bill McDonald Parkway and 25th Street.
The following website contains a wealth of bibliographical information about Lois and George Garlick: http://west.wwu.edu/cpnws/findingaids/cpnws/Garlick/garlickbio.htm.
Postscript, vintage Lois: In Decem- ber 2003, Lois wrote an article for Whatcom Watch: “Should Cats Be Required to Have a License?” Did her continuing efforts inspire the Bellingham City Council to consider the topic when they voted in June 2015 to develop a proposal for a cat licensing program?