Letters to the Editor

Massey family thanks community | Letter

We have been deeply touched by the overwhelming support and outpouring of messages of condolence and love from so many friends and neighbors on Orcas Island and beyond on the death of our beloved Maria. To all of you who have honored Maria, and consoled and helped us, her family, we express our profound thanks.

The help and support we have received has taken many forms, in kind words and generous deeds.

Friends and neighbors have come to visit and shore us up in this difficult, bleak time. So many have of you brought food — many delicious home-cooked meals that have kept us going, physically and emotionally. We thank you so much.

A great many of you put on boots and parkas to trudge the sodden woods and fields of Crow Valley in the search to find Maria. Some of you who took part in the search were volunteers, our friends, our neighbors and even civic-minded folks whom we did not know. Your kindness in having left your families and the warmth of your homes on Thanksgiving morning to join us in that sad task inspired and gave us hope. Thank you all.

We want to express our deep gratitude to Fire Chief Kevin O’Brien, who organized and had the overall lead of the search, for his exemplary leadership and compassion, and to his great Orcas Island Fire Department team including Chad Kimple, Rich Harvey, Patrick Shepler, Paul Turner and Wayne Rankin.

Sheriff Rob Nou and his excellent team of Orcas deputies, especially Steve Johns and Nikki Rogers, supported by Herb Crow, worked tirelessly from the very start on both the accident and the search effort.

Dave Halloran of the San Juan County Emergency Management Office was also an important member of the search team.

And we cannot say enough to express our thanks and admiration for Coroner Randy Gaylord who has been a source of strength for us every step of the way in this difficult journey.

These men and women embody the very essence of public service. At a time when it is fashionable to disparage and belittle government employees, we want our fellow citizens to know just how much the professionals in these organizations of our local government deserve to be honored for what they have done for our family and what they do for all of us every day. They have our respect and our gratitude.

Finally, we want to look to the future. In the weeks before her death, Maria was working as the stage manager and rehearsing with the cast of "Galileo," a play directed by Rob Hall that will be performed at Orcas Center in the near future. We hope you all will go to see it.

Orcas Island is a haven for both accomplished and aspiring actors and musicians. Acting — and singing — were what Maria most loved. They brought out in the most intense way that bright blaze of spirit and beauty that so enthralled everyone who knew and loved her.

A celebration of Maria Massey's life will be held at the church hall of the Emmanuel Episcopal Church on Main Street on Saturday, Dec. 22 at 1 p.m. We invite all who knew Maria to join us in remembering and celebrating her.

Maria's passion was the theater and music. So we have decided that, working together with friends, we will celebrate Maria’s life by establishing a small memorial fund in her name to provide modest assistance to young actors and singers among whom Maria followed her path here on Orcas Island. The fund will support acting or voice lessons, for example, or help meet some similar need, the kinds of things that young actors and singers need but cannot afford. We know that being associated with support in small ways for young actors and singers would be just how Maria would have liked to be remembered.

Some of our friends have asked how they might contribute to the fund. Friends who wish may do so by mail to the Maria Massey Memorial Fund at the Orcas Island Community Foundation, PO Box 1496, Eastsound, WA 98245, USA., (360) 376-6423. Contributions may also be made online to the Orcas Island Community Foundation website:  www.oicf.us.

Again, our grateful thanks for the many kind words and deeds of solace and comfort that we have received from so many of the wonderful people of Orcas Island."

Joe, Meg and Joanna Massey

Deer Harbor

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