Lois Garlick, Whatcom environmental leader, dies at 95

Lois Garlick of Bellingham, shown in 2004 by Squalicum Creek, was a longtime, award-winning environmental advocate. She died Sunday, June 28, 2015, at the age of 95.
Lois Garlick of Bellingham, shown in 2004 by Squalicum Creek, was a longtime, award-winning environmental advocate. She died Sunday, June 28, 2015, at the age of 95. The Bellingham Herald

A memorial service will be held Friday, July 10, for Lois Garlick, a much-honored activist in Whatcom County environmental issues. Garlick died at her Bellingham home Sunday, June 28. She was 95.

Among her many activities, Garlick cared for wounded animals, especially injured and oil-soaked birds.

“I remember Lois mostly for her wildlife rehab work from her home off Chuckanut,” said Patricia Otto of Bellingham, who shares Garlick’s love of wildlife. “She would take any creature in distress, but mostly birds, and work tirelessly to return them to health.”

Garlick also was active in local and state land-use issues, including shoreline protection and Lake Whatcom water quality.

“She also was instrumental in preserving Scudder Pond and Protection Island, a magnificent seabird preserve off Port Townsend,” Otto said. “She was a pillar in the environmental community for many, many years.”

Born and raised in Seattle, Garlick earned a degree in zoology at the University of Washington. While working at Western Washington University she met and married George Garlick, a Ferndale native who worked in the biology department. They shared passions for science, boating and hiking, conservation, and environmental causes. He died in 2005.

In 2003, she and her husband were among the first people named Environmental Heroes by RE Sources. They won a lifetime achievement award for helping to found the local chapter of the National Audubon Society in 1970, among other environmental efforts.

In 2004, she was named to the Northwest Women’s Hall of Fame at the Bellingham YWCA. The following year, she and her husband were named Land Stewards of the Year by Whatcom Land Trust.

She ran for Whatcom County executive in 2007 against incumbent Pete Kremen but lost by a wide margin.

Reach Dean Kahn at 360-715-2291 or dean.kahn@bellinghamherald.com. Read his columns at bellinghamherald.com/dean-kahn.

Service, donations

▪ Lois Garlick’s life will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Friday, July 10, at Westford’s Broadway Hall, 1300 Broadway. A reception will follow.

▪ Memorials in Garlick’s memory may be made to North Cascades Audubon Society, P.O. Box 5805, Bellingham, WA 98227-5805, or to Nature Conservancy, 1917 First Ave., Seattle, WA 98101.

Deer rescue

A deer in danger off of Chuckanut Drive was lucky that Lois and George Garlick happened to be nearby in their small boat. In January 1988, the Garlicks were boating near Chuckanut Island and Chuckanut Rock when they saw the two-point buck floundering in the open water.

The deer wouldn’t fit inside their boat, so Lois grabbed its antlers to keep it afloat while they proceeded slowly to the nearest shore, on Chuckanut Island. They pulled the exhausted animal onto the beach and covered it with a tarp, then rendezvoused with a friend, Stephen Frank, on the mainland and towed Lois’ rowing boat back to the island. George and Frank lifted the deer into the spare boat and took it to the Garlicks’ beach.

By then it was dark and the deer was comatose. That’s when George got an idea. He called John Arnold, a doctor who also lived on Chuckanut Drive.

Arnold had earlier combined his interest in medicine and the outdoors to invent what he called the “hydraulic sarong” — two layers of nylon blanket with plastic tubes inside to carry heated water —to revive people suffering from hypothermia. Arnold came to the beach with the device.

As water warmed on a camp stove flowed through the plastic tubes, the deer’s faint heartbeat grew stronger. By midnight, the deer was better but was still on the ground. Around 4 a.m. the deer struggled to its feet and began nibbling on some bushes. Frank, who was keeping watch, fell asleep. When he awoke around 6 a.m., the deer was gone.