Thursday, August 14, 2008

George Myers - Our Tribute to Him, His Tribute to Us

In case you haven't heard, CMBO lost a member of the family on August 13, 2008. George Myers. Ace birder, CMBO Associate Naturalist, in the measure of years, a man just barely 50. He was a person who asked little but gave much. His death seems like a crime against the Universe, and his sudden absence a reality none who were privileged to know him are ready to contemplate or bear.

As for knowing George, I can honestly say I've known him all my life (even though in actual fact we met, in person, a little over a decade ago). I knew him, because I was brought up to believe that people as wonderfully cast as the pixie-thin, tousle-haired man with the solemn eyes and impish grin did indeed walk this earth.

People who were kind and sharing. People you trusted implicitly and liked wholeheartedly. People who knew, firsthand, the hurt of things that hurt, so never knowingly or intentionally inflicted pain upon others. George was what fathers and mothers and teachers and all the role models wanted us to be.

A good person. Who became a good man. Who made "good" something you could believe in because it was embodied in him.

When he walked onto the Hawk Watch Platform, it was you who went out of your way, to say "Hi," to him.

Because it made you feel good.

When he walked into a crowded room, his arrival was so unassuming that it seemed that he and the Universe conspired to surprise us.

I guess that's how we first met. On a CMBO field trip or function. He a quiet, shy person who became, instantly, your "friend George." I guess, too, that is why I cannot expressly recall that first meeting with the good person I always believe in and the good person I just met.

But when did I meet George, "good" found a face. It's how I recognized him. It's how I'll remember him.

His goodness and his fantastic ears. On those Monday morning bird walks in the South Cape May Meadows, it was George, more often than not, who was first to hear that Bobolink high overhead; the one who would pin the name to the bird.

Later, in the Northwood Center, it was George who would go to the sighting sheet and dutifully note the birds that were seen. So that others might find them. So that what good there is in the world might be shared.

He had health issues that were sometimes debilitating but never tarnished his gentle spirit or his capacity to share the gift of his knowledge and enthusiasm.

And this is why I am compelled to write this not as a tribute to George but to acknowledge the gift of his talents and friendship that was, and remains, his tribute to us.

If you are lucky, you get to meet a few very special people in your life. People that made a difference. People who change you as a person.

If you are extraordinarily lucky you meet a person like George.

I am, now, in this writing, forced to face the loss of those he loved and who loved him back. And in doing so I am forced to face an ugly truth that flies in the face of the good I was taught to believe in and that George embodied.

I am forced to acknowledge, if not accept, that Life is not fair, that hurt is not evenly apportioned, and that some people's scroll is overwritten with burdens while others paint roses upon theirs.

I think that the wonder of George, the greatness of George, was that he painted roses all over that burden-creased scroll, anyway. Roses and birds and butterflies and all the things a good man finds and a good man brings others to see.

Gone, now, is his presence. Left to us is the goodness he gave to be shared.

Written by Pete Dunne
Photograph by Louise Zemaitis

If you wish to share a comment or thought about George Myers with the Bird Cape May community please send an email to We will compile the messages that we receive and post them to commemorate our dear friend Georgie in the near future.

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