Body of well-known Hampden naturalist found in river

A hearse is parked at the bottom of a boat ramp on the Penobscot River near the Hampden-Bangor line as Maine wardens and local police confer after a body was recovered from the river Friday afternoon, August 5, 2011. The two-day search for Judy Markowsky concluded with somber news Friday when her body was found in the river.
A hearse is parked at the bottom of a boat ramp on the Penobscot River near the Hampden-Bangor line as Maine wardens and local police confer after a body was recovered from the river Friday afternoon, August 5, 2011. The two-day search for Judy Markowsky concluded with somber news Friday when her body was found in the river.
Posted Aug. 05, 2011, at 11:27 a.m.
Last modified Aug. 05, 2011, at 8:45 p.m.
Judy Kellogg Markowsky
Judy Kellogg Markowsky
Warden Michelle Merrifield and her K-9, Duchess, search the grounds of Avalon Village Thursday morning for signs of Judy Kellogg Markowsky, who was reported missing on Wednesday night.
Warden Michelle Merrifield and her K-9, Duchess, search the grounds of Avalon Village Thursday morning for signs of Judy Kellogg Markowsky, who was reported missing on Wednesday night.

HAMPDEN, Maine — The body of well-known local naturalist Judy Kellogg Markowsky, 65, who went missing from the Avalon Village retirement community earlier this week, was found Friday afternoon in the Penobscot River.

“A body has been recovered and it will be going to Augusta for an autopsy,” Hampden police Sgt. Dan Stewart said.

Markowsky’s body was found by a recreational boater near Winterport, about 3½ miles downstream from her home, Edie Smith, director of information for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said in a press release.

Markowsky’s family gathered around 3 p.m. at the Waterfront Marine, near the Bangor city line, where her body was loaded into a waiting hearse.

On behalf of the family, Markowsky’s sister thanked those who took part in the search or who otherwise supported her and her brothers and sisters over the past few days.

“This is a time of profound sadness but also profound gratitude,” Sara Kellogg Meade of Amherst, N.H., said Friday night.

“We appreciate the outpouring of support from everybody who was involved in the search coordinated by the warden service. How that all was coordinated was phenomenal,” she said. “And also the Avalon Village staff. They were there for Judy before and they were for us for the last few days.”

The response to the news that Markowsky was missing was one sign of the level of respect the community had for her.

“She was very special and the community adored her,” Meade said. “It was very heartwarming and in a lot of ways, helped us get through the last few days.”

Judy’s former husband George Markowsky, who said that the couple was married for a long time and parted on good terms, said Friday that those who loved her are still trying to deal with the loss.

“It’s tough,” he said. “She was a really active individual, involved in so many efforts and so many fronts. She was very well known” and liked by all who met her, he said.

The accomplishments of Judy Markowsky “kind of speak for themselves,” said her ex-husband, who lives in Orono. “The Fields Pond Nature Center was her tremendous achievement. She worked long and hard on that for many years. She did all the education, introducing children to nature and trying to get people more aware of the environment.”

Judy Markowsky served as director of the Maine Audubon Society’s Fields Pond Nature Center in Holden for 12 years between 1997 and 2009 and also was a weekly birding columnist for the Bangor Daily News.

“She was a real addition to the community and she really loved this place and the state,” George Markowsky said.

Judy Markowsky lived in Orono for years and recently moved to Hampden.

Dozens of searchers scoured the banks of the Penobscot River this week for Markowsky, who last was heard from on Tuesday. Others searched by boat and plane.

Markowsky’s brother Zip Kellogg and other relatives were involved in the search, which also involved a number of local volunteers, many of whom were friends or associates.

“We’ve known her for 30 years,” Rick Pare of Orono said before she was found. Pare and his wife, Nancy, joined the search Friday. “Orono is a small town, and we all knew her.”

The Pares are just two of many who searched for Markowsky, who left a note behind and her car in her driveway.

On Friday morning, “seven or eight dogs, one fixed wing [aircraft] and four boats, and probably in the neighborhood of 30 to 40 searchers” were looking for her, Maine Warden Service Lt. Adam Gormely said while standing near a command center set up by the Edythe L. Dyer Community Library.

Volunteer groups Dirigo Search and Rescue, Maine Search and Rescue Dogs and Down East Emergency Medicine Institute assisted game wardens, the Hampden Police Department and Maine Marine Patrol. The local Salvation Army supplied food and water for those involved.

“They pulled out all the stops,” Stewart said.

Earlier this year, Maine Audubon honored Markowsky, who was the first Maine Audubon staff member in the Bangor area and was instrumental in the construction of the Fields Pond Audubon Center in Holden, the group’s website states.

The Audubon called her “the person who worked tirelessly to make Fields Pond such a successful place, from building the Fields Pond Audubon Center in the late 1990s, to establishing the family programs, classes, meetings, school programs, and community events that, over time, made Fields Pond Audubon Center a keystone of the greater Bangor community,” states the Maine Audubon’s online journal, Habitat.

Markowsky was a member of the Penobscot Valley Audubon Chapter and was an active member of the state’s annual bird count.

“As a passionate naturalist, and expert birder, she enthusiastically engaged any adult or young person who was interested in nature, while also engaging the scientific community through her writings in books and scientific journals,” the June 2011 Habitat article states.

The National Women’s History Project recognized Markowsky in 2009 “as one of 100 women who showed exceptional vision and leadership in environmental protection,” and that same year she was presented with a Maryann Hartman Award by the University of Maine, it states.

“Judy epitomizes the best of Maine Audubon — experienced, knowledgeable, passionate, willing to engage others, and committed to wildlife conservation for the long haul,” Maine Audubon executive director Ted Koffman states in the Habitat article. “Thank you, Judy, for all that you have done for Maine Audubon, for Fields Pond and for wildlife and habitat in Maine.

“Your legacy is truly extraordinary.”

BDN writer Dawn Gagnon contributed to this report.

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