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Outdoor memorial planned for ‘finest field naturalist’ in B.C.

An outdoor memorial service is planned this spring for the late Glenn Ryder, a renowned local naturalist who passed away in October, 2013. This photo by Phil Henderson, was taken at North Alouette River, on March 23, 2006.  - Phil Henderson submitted photo
An outdoor memorial service is planned this spring for the late Glenn Ryder, a renowned local naturalist who passed away in October, 2013. This photo by Phil Henderson, was taken at North Alouette River, on March 23, 2006.
— image credit: Phil Henderson submitted photo

This spring, the people who knew the late Glenn Ryder will hold an outdoor memorial service for the Aldergrove resident and renowned local naturalist.

Ryder, who passed away in October at the age of 75, spent his happiest times in the outdoors, observing and recording wildlife, collecting artifacts, and exploring new habitats.

Bob Puls, president of the Langley Field Naturalists (LFN), described Ryder as a shy and reclusive personality who was affectionately known within the naturalists’ group as the “invisible man.”

Puls called Ryder’s death a “complete shock.”

He said Ryder was active in the field up until a few weeks before he died.

“Though he was becoming increasingly frail as the years [passed], there was no indication that he was not long for this world,” Puls said.

Ryder was a founder and life member of the LFN and one of the team that lobbied to establish Campbell Valley Regional Park, Puls noted.

Ryder’s obituary describes his early childhood as an “unsettled,” one that was spent shuttling between orphanages and foster homes in various communities after he was born in Vancouver.

It goes on to say that Ryder was a self-taught naturalist known for his “acute sense of observation and passion for nature” and his meticulous line drawings and watercolours.

Ryder had a particular affection for owls.

Dubbed the “finest field naturalist in British Columbia,” Ryder was known for his commitment to build, erect, and monitor nest boxes for cavity-nesting owls, especially the threatened Western Screech-Owl.

Even though he never completed elementary school, his acknowledged expertise won him work as a consulting naturalist.

For four years, he was the summer warden and naturalist at Stum Lake, near Alexis Creek, where he helped protect the only colony of nesting American white pelicans in British Columbia from human disturbance.

The executor of Ryder’s will is hoping to find a home at UBC or SFU for his collection of detailed field notes, artwork, and written reports, where it will be available for future reference by other naturalists.

In 2012, Ryder was awarded the Steve Cannings Award for contributions to ornithology in British Columbia from the BC Field Ornithologists.

He published many of his observations in Wildlife Afield, the bi-annual journal of the Biodiversity Centre for Wildlife Studies (BCFWS).

The BCFWS is planning to publish a 100-page memorial edition of Wildlife Afield devoted to Ryder and his many contributions to natural history in British Columbia.

The date of the outdoor memorial will be posted at www.wildlifebc.org.

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