Eileen A. Katz, 1934 - 2007


January 20, 1934 - December 8, 2007

Washington Crossing Audubon has lost a cherished long-time friend and colleague. Trustee and former chapter president Eileen Katz died December 8th after a long and very courageous battle with cancer. Nearly to the end, and through intractable pain, Eileen maintained her connection with Audubon and with all it stands for. We miss her profoundly and we offer our deepest condolences to her four daughters and their families.

When Eileen joined our board of trustees she had already been a devoted leader in the Trenton Naturalists Club. It's as if one nature club was not enough to contain her abundant skill, dedication, enthusiasm and energy. One of our board members captured the essence of Eileen's devotion to the natural world: "Her love of nature and her dedication to doing good were manifested in the hundreds of programs and field trips she helped organize, her constant awareness of the human relationship to nature, and her friendly and helpful attitude."

Eileen was a champion for cultivation of nature appreciation in our own backyards. She knew all the local bird hangouts and had a knack for finding a Noah's Ark in an abandoned lot. Where others might see just a fallow field, she saw an ecosystem. She bubbled up at every find and rejoiced as much at sighting a mother wolf spider stumbling along with her load of babies on her back as she did at catching a glimpse of a pileated woodpecker careening through the woods. Her un-jaded eye for the wonders of nature reached hundreds of people over the years. She was especially committed to opening the eyes of young people and, for sure, part of her legacy is the inspiration she planted in their hearts.

Eileen loved to prepare bird study skins with Hannah Suthers' Princeton Skinners group, and to share with her family interesting tales of those long evenings of patient labor. After a disconcerting ring of fallen feathers around her first attempt in 1993 - a baby crow - she became quite skilled with the big birds. For ten seasons (1996-2005) Eileen was a breath of fresh air and renewed energy walking into the Featherbed Lane Banding Station at the peak of the weekly activity to record data and helping take down and fold the nets at the end of the day.

Eileen was rarely seen without a tiny notebook in which she jotted down her sightings. She especially enjoyed cataloging the plants and animals that she saw and, until her health limited her mobility, she volunteered for every biological survey ever conducted by WCAS, including the Pole Farm at Mercer County Park Northwest. Her advocacy for the Pole Farm is the stuff of local legend. She was such a regular attendee at Mercer County Park Commission meetings that it is rumored it was noted in the minutes when she didn't show. She was not afraid to speak her mind on behalf of the grassland birds, the butterflies and the wildflowers for which the Pole Farm has become famous, but she always did so with grace, patience and restraint. She wore an indelible smile, even through some of the toughest battles on the "keep it natural" front. Eileen's passion shone when, on behalf of WCAS, she wrote the nomination of the Pole Farm as an Important Bird Area, a success that can now be viewed at www.njaudubon.org\Conservation\IBBA\. Click on "Site Guide."

Eileen had a gift and she shared it generously. We, and the wild things, will reap the benefits of her sharing for generations to come. If you would like to donate a gift in Eileen's name, the family has named two very worthy causes close to Eileen's heart: Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and the Lawrence Nature Center.

A bench with a plaque honoring Eileen has been installed by Washington Crossing Audubon and her daughters at the Pole Farm.



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Last revision: Saturday, September 5, 2008