Helen Engle -A Mighty Oak Has Fallen

Helen Engle -A Mighty Oak Has Fallen

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I first met Helen when National Audubon Society had their board meeting in Seattle about 15 years ago. What an impression she made on me! I cannot remember meeting an environmentalist with her fervor, dedication, and passion while being so down to earth and personable. She helped found most chapters in this state, ours being one of them. We called her “Mother Audubon” here in Washington. I still cannot imagine how she raised seven children and fulfilled all her work commitments while hiking and climbing with her husband, Stan. She touched all those she met and graced us with her depth of commitment to the cause of preserving spaces for birds and all wildlife. I grieve her loss while feeling blessed to have known her.  Below is a tribute to her from the Director of Audubon Washington.   — Deb Nickerson

Tacoma News Tribune Article about Helen

Dear Audubon in Washington – we pause today to remember someone who made, and continues to make, a difference to generations of people and birds, not just in Washington, but across the entire Audubon network. Our dear Helen Engle passed away late Monday afternoon, wrapped in the love of her children and grandchildren.

Helen provided something worthwhile to our world, and especially to the Audubon community. Along with Hazel Wolf, Helen is responsible for starting nearly every chapter in our state during the time period 50 or so years ago when Audubon put effort into building out the grassroots network that is still one of our major strengths today. Her own chapter, Tahoma Audubon, just celebrated its 50th anniversary in February. Helen was a fierce advocate for the birds, taking that passion everywhere, from the state capital to the halls of congress. She served on the National Audubon board and was honored with a lifetime achievement award in 2013.

We are grateful to have known such a profound person as Helen. As recently as this past year, Helen was still emailing me to make sure we were working on the things she thought important. She was also a constant supporter, taking the time to write and point out the positive things she thought Audubon was doing. One of my fondest memories is from just about 4 years ago. The conservation community writ large had stopped organizing a big lobby day in Olympia during the legislative session. Audubon decided to hold one because our members wanted to have a voice in Olympia. Our national CEO, David Yarnold, was here for the occasion, and of course, Helen was there. It was Helen’s birthday and when we presented a card to her, she said, “There’s no place I’d rather spend my birthday than with my Audubon community speaking out for the birds.” I have attached a photo from that day that shows the joy Helen brought everywhere with her.

Kind wishes can be sent to Helen’s family care of:

Gretchen Engle

8502 43rd Street West

University Place, WA 98466

Best regards,


Gail Gatton

VP & Executive Director

206.652.2444 x101