Sad news: Luke Cole dead
- The indescribably sad news came yesterday that Luke Cole, a friend to
many of us and internationally known birder and environmental lawyer,
was killed in a car crash in Uganda on 5 June. Today's S.F. Chronicle
has a lengthy obituary
Many S.F. birders knew him better than I did, but he was about a fine a
person as there is in our little birding world, and he far transcended
it with his legal work for environmental justice. I did do two Big Days
in Kings County with him -- he was a careful and fine birder, a
wonderful storyteller, and an all around good guy. Incredibly bright and
funny, his "Rue the Smew" poem was about the cleverest thing I've ever
seen posted to CalBirds.
In many ways his death at age 46 -- at the prime of his career and the
middle of a wonderful life -- is as sad as a single death can be. He
joins David Gaines and Ted Parker as birding greats and environmental
heroes cut down much too early.
Rita & I got a postcard from Luke a couple of week ago, describing in
broad strokes his 3rd visit to Madagascar, and mentioning flea-bitten
hovels for lodging and minor bumps and bruises from taxi accidents on
rural roads. He said he'd been in search of his most wanted bird -- the
Madagascar Red Owl -- once again. He did not say whether he'd seen it --
indeed, for him, the quest was as important as the result, if not more
so. He was living life large.
We will all miss him very much.
Luke's lovely wife Nancy Shelby was also injured in the car crash; the
paper says she was flown to Holland for treatment. Our best hopes for
recovery and our deepest sympathies are with her.
This is a sad day for all of us.