Dear WOS family,
It is with a heavy heart that I write to tell you that our friend, colleague and mentor, Mary Bomberger Brown, passed away this weekend. Despite battling cancer for many years, Mary remained an integral leader in the Wilson Ornithological Society serving as our Editor twice and most recently serving as the Second Vice President. Mary was wholly dedicated to the WOS, her professional home. She viewed her role as editor as one of mentor. She was quite proud of that fact that many budding ornithologists submitted their first manuscript to the Wilson Journal of Ornithology. Mary insisted that all manuscripts be sent out for review so that authors would receive constructive feedback regardless of the decision to publish. She was a caring, thoughtful editor who helped raise the quality and stature of the Wilson Journal of Ornithology while at the same time preserved our dedication to encouraging young ornithologists. The ornithological community has lost a truly wonderful role model who demonstrated scientific rigor, the importance of service to the community, and humility and graciousness.
Mary was a mentor and friend to me. I worked closely with her during the editorial transitions for the WJO over the last several years. Mary taught me many valuable lessons about leadership and the society. She made me a better President to the WOS. I cannot thank her enough, and I will dearly miss her friendship, advice and collegiality.
I know it will be difficult this fall at Cape May to have our first annual meeting without Mary’s presence, enthusiasm, and infectious smile and personality. She will be missed by so many of us. I had looked forward to Mary’s next steps in the WOS – her Presidency would have undoubtedly been amazing, a time for her mentorship to reach so many more ornithologists. I hope we can honor Mary with continued stories about her. I hope we can teach young ornithologists about Mary by sharing those stories with them, and embodying Mary’s attitudes toward mentorship in our own lives. I know she touched the lives of many of us, and I welcome your stories, anecdotes and thoughts about Mary.
Tomorrow, I start another semester of teaching ornithology to undergraduates. I often start by sharing a few stories about ornithologists and how they came to study birds. I plan to share this video of Mary with them; it captures her so well and what better way to introduce students to ornithology than to share with them the story of Mary Bomberger Brown.
More about Mary can be read here. We also plan to honor Mary by publishing a professional obituary in WJO later this year.
Mark E. Deutschlander
President, Wilson Ornithological Society