Unwavering voice for the environment has been silenced

On Saturday morning, Langley lost a passionate and vocal advocate for the environment when Rhys Griffiths passed away at age 92.

Soon after Rhys and his wife Annabel moved to Langley City from Ontario (and before that, England) the couple took a special interest in the local environment — specifically the fate of Brydon lagoon.

From their house on the pond’s eastern bank, Rhys kept a sharp eye out on what he described as one of Langley’s jewels.

When purple loosestrife, a pretty, but invasive weed, began to take over the pond, he took a leading role in the effort to eradicate it.

Several years later, after a long stretch of hot weather resulted in a massive fish kill in the lagoon, he was very vocal about the need for improvements to the pond if another, similar disaster was to be prevented.

He wasn’t afraid to speak his mind if he thought something needed to be addressed, but in making his point he was always the consummate gentleman.

He would occasionally stop by the office to let me know when he thought there was an issue that demanded public attention or to offer feedback on a story that had already run in the paper.

Whether his review was positive or negative, I was always happy to see him because he had a way of softening whatever he had to say. And he didn’t feel the need to hammer away at a point once it had been made.

My own interactions with Rhys were limited to discussions that related to the Langley Field Naturalists or LEPS and usually involved the lagoon.

Speaking to Mr. Griffiths’ friends, it quickly became clear that he cared a great deal about the people in his life, too.

Fellow Field Naturalists Al and Jude Grass talked about how much Rhys’ and Annabel’s friendship meant to them following a tragic loss. Bob Puls, president of the LFN, said it is the regular phone calls from his friend that he will miss the most.

As infrequent as they were, I too will miss my conversations with Rhys.

I expect from now on, when there is something amiss at Brydon or elsewhere in Langley’s natural environment, we will hear about it from his fellow field naturalists, or LEPS partners.

One of the things I find most inspiring is that Rhys remained committed to his cause into his late 80s and early 90s, when he personally had less to gain from protecting the natural environment than those of us coming after.

That’s often how it is.

Perhaps it’s a generational thing, or it may be that someone who is retired simply has more time to focus on issues outside of their daily life, but it would be nice to think that there are plenty of younger people ready to step up and speak for the environment.

That’s especially important, now that such an unwavering voice has been silenced.

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