It is with great sadness that we must share the news about our dear friend and colleague Mary Valentine who passed away tragically last week after an accident on the Duckabush River. Mary had contributed to numerous Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC) research projects as our most dedicated volunteer and intern between 2016 and 2018, participating in the multi-year Hood Canal nearshore juvenile fish use assessment and the Columbia River pound net project. With this tribute, we celebrate the amazing life of Mary Valentine who has inspired us all.
Mary was an incredibly special person who will forever be missed by WFC and all of those fortunate enough to have met her. Having worked closely alongside Mary for projects in Hood Canal and the Columbia River, our staff will always remember her talent, dedication, and commitment to environmental conservation and the field research she loved.
Mary overcame enormous challenges in the years we worked together, navigating a major career change later in life, returning to university, and participating in rigorous field internships far from home, all while supporting her family and community near Grays Harbor. As she somehow managed this incredible work-life balance on her journey to become a biologist, Mary remained positive each and every day we worked together in the rain, snow, sleet, or sun. Regardless of the challenges we faced in the field—frantically hauling seine nets in Hood Canal, collecting data in the mud, or working our 16th hour straight in the middle of the night tagging salmon on the Columbia River pound net—Mary would somehow still be smiling, laughing, and enjoying her journey as a scientist. She was truly an inspiration—a lightning bolt of talent, joy, and positivity. We were all so happy to see her dreams come true as she recently finished school, completed her internships with WFC, and became a field researcher with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Although she is no longer with us after the tragic accident last week, our staff at WFC will continue to celebrate the amazing life of Mary Valentine for years to come. No matter what challenges life brings, Mary’s memory will always keep inspiring us to persevere, stay positive, and never give up in the pursuit of our dreams, science, and the conservation of the environment we all share.
In these difficult times, we send our deepest condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues at the Department of Fish and Wildlife.