From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2000:
Ruth Frankel, 87, died on March 3 of leukemia at her apartment in Newport Beach, California, comforted to the last by Phanni, a formerly feral cat she had rescued, along with five kittens, from the Balboa Theater. Frankel had reportedly battled leukemia for 40 years. Teaching English and history at Huntington Beach High School for 31 years, Frankel founded the Animal Assistance League of Orange County upon retiring in 1973. The organization “now has kennel capacity for 20 animals, a roster of hundreds of volunteers, a low-cost spay/neuter program, and an $1,800-a-month budget from private donations,” wrote Elaine Gale of the Los Angeles Times. The current president is Jackie Keener.
Bonnie Findlay, 79, founder of the Bambi Bird and Wildlife Sanctuary in Little Ranches, Florida, died on March 4. A former veterinary surgical nurse, Findlay “for three decades ran the 30-acre wildlife hospital and rehabilitation center, aided by her halfbrother Wally,” recalled Neil Santaniello of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. “For many years it was the only wildlife rehab center in Palm Beach County.” Aiding as many as 700 animals a year, the center faltered after Wally Findlay “died on February 4, 1997, at age 72, in a deliberately set fire on the grounds,” Santaniello continued, adding that “Ms. Findlay and helpers brought it back to life.”
Jacob M. Valentine Jr., 82, a longtime U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge manager and southeastern regional wildlife biologist, died in February at his home in Lafayette, Louisiana. Valentine was credited by colleagues with the lead role in creating the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge.
Guy Waterman, 67, of East Corinth, Vermont, an outspoken defender of animals and habitat, climbed 5,249-foot Mt. Lafayette in northern New Hampshire on February 6 and froze to death meditating. “He sent letters to friends telling them what he was going to do. Five friends retrieved the body on February 11,” reported Douglas Martin of The New York Times. Waterman and his wife Laura had scaled all 48 4,000- foot peaks in New Hampshire, writing four books about mountaineering and wilderness camping. Waterman was haunted by the disappearance of son William in 1973, and by the death of son John in 1978 during an illequipped attempt to scale Mt. McKinley in Alaska. A jazz pianist in his teens, Waterman later wrote speeches for presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford.
Walter Fletcher, 93, died on February 15 in Niceville, Florida. Fletcher covered dog shows for The New York Times as a sportswriter and editor 1927-1976, and as a freelance thereafter until 1995, when failing health forced him to quit. Introduced at the 1995 Westminister Kennel Club Show in Madison Square Garden by then-American SPCA president Roger Caras, Fletcher drew a standing ovation that he called, “The most touching moment of my life.”
Andrew McLaughlin, 61, of Guilford, Connecticut, fell through thin ice while trying to rescue a dog on March 7, and drowned as his two-year-old grandson ran for help.