Reflections on Irmgard Conley, by Janet Alderton
I met my dear friend, Irmgard Conley, when I joined the Friends of the San Juans board of directors in 2006. Irmgard’s commitment to “Keep the San Juans Green!” inspired me to use my background in scientific research to help inform our County’s decision-makers during updates to our Critical Areas Ordinance and shoreline planning regulations.
I recently heard that Irmgard regarded the Friends of the San Juans as so essential to protect what she loved about our islands that she sold property and made a substantial donation to help the Friends through a rough financial patch more than 20 years ago.
Our love of the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea deepened our friendship through these many years. When I visited Irmgard at her home in Olga on Orcas Island, we shared our life experiences and perspectives over tea and the delicious baked treats that Irmgard enjoyed creating. We would work together in her garden and go on walks.
Irmgard had grit. When health issues arose, she would address them full on. One time I accompanied her to Bellevue for a hip replacement surgery. I was there as her advocate before and after the procedure. After her surgery and rehab, Irmgard resumed her walks using her walker and later her walking “sticks” aka “trekking poles”. She connected to Nature and to her community to the very end of her life.
I miss my dear friend Irmgard very, very much.
I am honoring her memory and her love for this special place by making a donation to the Irmgard Conley Islands Conservation Fund.
~ Janet Alderton