There will be no President’s Chat in this issue.
Stephanie Lovell, our president for the past
year and just re-elected for a second year,
died on June 11th. She had been stoically
undergoing treatment for cancer for several
months but kept up a nearly full schedule,
leading the Club’s monthly meetings and hosting
Council meetings at her home, until just a few weeks
before her death. Stephanie was a strong, no-nonsense,
person. She was passionate about nature in general and birds
especially. She was dedicated to the Montgomery Bird Club.
I am lucky to have served as vice-president under her as a
benevolent mentor turned friend. We have received many
tributes to Stephanie. Below are some of these, followed by
We will miss her very much.
Evelyn Ralston, Vice-President
Tributes to Stephanie
She was one of those rare people who are perpetually willing to accept responsibilities without demur or fuss.
Mike Bowen, MBC
This June, Hartford Audubon lost a longtime beloved member, Stephanie Lovell. She was a member of HAS since 1995, President of the Society 2003-2005, Member of the Year in 2007, and led 54 trips for HAS. She is remembered for being ardent in her birding and brooking no foolishness when on the prowl. She generously shared her favorite birding haunts, participated on the HAS Facebook page, and continued to lead trips to Delmarva even after moving to Maryland to be closer to her daughter. She also was excellent at Trivial Pursuit and was a Scotch connoisseur. She is missed but, as one member expressed it, probably still birding!
Hartford Audubon Society (Connecticut)
In January, Stephanie led a weekend birding field trip to the
Eastern Shore. She was open to having a co-leader—and I jumped at the chance. During our trek, I sensed that she
wanted to pass on to others her favorite winter birding spots. And she took in each stop as if it were her last visit there. Her face lit up with delight at the Brown-headed Nuthatches, with their squeaky-toy call, that we found at the edge of a parking lot, right where she told us to look for them. Like the rest of us, she marveled at the spectacle of a late-afternoon fly-in of snow geese at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. She eagerly snapped photos of bald eagles and songbirds. The next morning, she led us to her favorite breakfast haunt. Then she tromped through the cold wind at the Ocean City Inlet to track down a glaucous gull. She took in every moment. Stephanie, thank you for sharing the birds of the Eastern Shore in winter. I hope that, in the future, I can lead that trip in your honor.
Cheryl Hogue, MBC Chapter Director
We will miss Stephanie’s leadership, her liveliness, and her passion for the natural world.
Lisa Alexander, Executive Director, Audubon Naturalist Society
Stephanie Lovell, a life
Stephanie was born in Detroit but spent much of her life in more exotic locales: her school years in post-war Paris with her Foreign Service family, her young adulthood in New York and then Haiti. After high school in Massachusetts, Stephanie studied visual arts at Garland Junior College in Boston, then went on to earn a Master of Fine Art at the University of Michigan. (During this time she was briefly married to a fellow UM alum.)
In 1965 during a holiday in Mexico, Stephanie crossed paths with an unlikely suitor, Pierre-Richard Villedrouin, an architecture student in exile from Haiti. They soon married and moved to Long Island. During the next five years Stephanie taught art at the public schools of New Hyde Park, NY, and Pierre-Richard worked for an architecture firm in Manhattan. And the couple had two daughters. Upon the death in 1971 of Haiti’s “President for Life” François Duvalier (aka Papa Doc), Pierre-Richard’s uncle asked him to return to the homeland to build a signature house. He took a leave of absence, and with Stephanie and the two girls, moved to Haiti—ostensibly for a year or two. Haiti in the 1970s was just emerging from a repressive dictatorship, and the new “President for Life,” Jean-Claude Duvalier (aka Baby Doc) allowed more freedoms. Stephanie soon created her own micro-enterprise, Atelier Nushka, where she designed and fabricated
embroidered clothing and home goods. At its peak, her clients included Henri Bendel and Jax of NY and boutiques as
far-flung as Hawaii and Aspen. A third daughter joined the family in 1973.
Pierre-Richard and Stephanie would divorce in 1976. Nonetheless, Stephanie stayed on in Haiti. She parlayed her
micro-enterprise experience into a management job with General Mills, which, like many American companies,
took advantage of the low labor costs in Haiti to staff its factories. But when unrest began brewing anew, General
Mills pulled out of Haiti, and in 1985 Stephanie made the difficult decision to leave the country where her daughters
had grown up and come home to the United States.
By then manufacturing in America was winding down, but for a time Stephanie managed to find work with companies in
Hartford, Connecticut. When those jobs inevitably went off-shore, she reinvented herself and eventually became a jobs
counselor for the state of Connecticut. She also discovered a passion for birding, became involved in the Hartford Audubon Society, and traveled widely— Alaska, Brazil’s Pantanal and Amazon, France’s Camargue. And in Maryland,
she returned to her passion for textiles. She was soon selling her colorful quilted items—bedspreads, bags, placemats—a
popular fixture at the Montgomery County Farm Women’s Cooperative Market in Bethesda. Stephanie’s greatest joy was her three daughters, who are as cosmopolitan as their mother. Of Stephanie’s eight grandchildren, two live in California,
four live in France, and two live in Tunisia.
—Lydia Schindler, abbreviated from a biography by Stephanie’s daughters