The 3 p.m. ceremony Saturday, Sept. 18, expected to celebrate the naming of the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center’s visitors center and boardwalk as the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Center with the founder present, instead became a celebration of the founder’s life. Quinn had passed away about eight-and-a-half hours earlier at her home on Florida Bay surrounded by loved ones. She had cancer and had hung on, enjoying her Key Largo home in the bird rehabilitation center she had created, to reach her 82nd birthday.
A bird center employee said Quinn had passed away on her birthday as she had said she would. To anyone that knew her, it was not surprising she died on her own terms, just as she had lived on her own terms.
Although more comfortable with the wildlife with whom she shared her life than homo sapiens, there was no shortage of humans who paid her homage at the celebration of life ceremony that it had become. Her son, Jim, a college professor in Texas, paid tribute, as did Terry Timberlake, the wild bird center’s education director (Read her statement here: http://echoflam.com/florida-keys-travel-in-miami/florida-keys-wild-bird-center-founder-to-be-celebrated-saturday-at-3-p-m).
Longtime Wild Bird Center volunteer and bird rescuer Bruce Horn spoke of the center’s early days; Ginny Oshaben who used to give educational birdwatching tours in the Everglades reminded those present of the importance of shorebirds being well-fed to enhance their reproduction. Richie Moretti, founder of the world’s only turtle rehabilitation hospital in Marathon, said Quinn had been his inspiration and mentor.
Florida Keys Wild Bird Center board of directors, elected officials and members of the Ocean Reef Club who are generous supporters of the Wild Bird Center all were present to pay their respects. Artist Tim Borski of Islamorada, who about 20 years ago had donated his talents to create the black-and-white Wild Bird Center logo used in signage, was present with his family. Volunteers were numerous, such as Rachel Bloom, who quieted the loudly-squawking Pickles the cockatoo by holding him and comforting him in his cage. Pickles seemed to be complaining loudly on behalf of all the birds that Laura had taken her final flight for the sanctuary in the sky.
Recent changes to the management of the center seek to ensure its viability for decades to come. Donations may be made online to the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center. Call 305-852-4486 or visit www.fkwbc.org for more information.