ORONO, Maine — Loved ones and friends of Juliet “Judy” Kellogg Markowsky paid homage to her love of birds at her memorial service on Sunday by making the sounds birders love to hear.
The music created by the bird songs and calls from the group of around 400 was music to the ears of longtime friend Mac Hunter.
“That was wonderful. That was wonderful,” he said, his voice filled with emotion. “I see Judy smiling.”
Markowsky, 65, a local naturalist, had a degenerative illness and simply walked into her beloved Penobscot River on Aug. 3. Her body was found two days later.
Her memorial was touched by the emotions of people remembering a woman who led young and old on nature hikes, on canoeing trips or in search of an elusive rare bird.
All who knew Markowsky knew her love of a good joke and making people laugh, so it was only natural that the day set aside to honor her also was filled with laughter.
Judy grew up along the Kenduskeag Stream in Bangor and had traveled all over the globe, hitting every continent except Antarctica to explore and see for herself the different kinds of birds and animals the world has to offer. She brought that knowledge home to Maine and would teach it to anyone who was lucky enough to meet her.
Most of the time, souvenirs from the different countries were left for the tourists, but on one overseas trip with longtime friend Aram Calhoun and Hunter, Calhoun said the couple couldn’t resist making a purchase.
“We found a gift we knew Judy would love — hyena dung,” she said, adding her friend was probably the only person in Maine with a dung collection.
Warm laughter rolled through the Wells Conference Center at the University of Maine, where the memorial service was held. Hunter kept the smiles on attendees’ faces by reminiscing about Judy’s favorite type of clothing, which was a reoccurring theme throughout the service.
“Wherever Judy went she always stood out in the crowd for some intuitive reason — camouflage,” Hunter said.
His wife then asked how many people were wearing camouflage in honor of Judy and a dozen hands went up. Calhoun herself was wearing camo socks.
Camouflage became a part of Judy’s life 40 or so years ago when she was living in New York with her then husband, George Markowsky, and “she decided by wearing camouflage she would look like some weirdo survivalist” and would be left alone, Hunter said.
“She kept us laughing with her unique sense of humor,” he said.
Calhoun then recalled a time with Judy at the Newark Airport in New Jersey while en route to Chile. After getting her boarding pass, the counter person told Judy a bus was waiting at the bottom of the steps.
“Judy said, ‘The bus. I bought a plane ticket,’” Calhoun said, a smile spread across her face.
Calhoun said she explained to Judy that the bus was there to take them to the airplane, and “Judy turned back to the lady and said, ‘I don’t get out much.’”
Cellist Betty Kellogg, who is Judy’s sister, played hauntingly sweet versions of “The Swan” and “Amazing Grace” during the service, joined in harmony by the voices of those gathered.
Her sister Sara Kellogg spoke of Judy’s courage, leadership, her passion for the environment and her love for teaching and of her children.
“If she could only know how proud we are,” she said.
Judy was instrumental in the creation of the Maine Audubon Society’s Fields Pond Nature Center in Holden, where she served as director between 1997 and 2009, and was a weekly birding columnist for the Bangor Daily News. Linda Woodard of Maine Audubon spoke about Judy’s passion to establish Fields Pond and later direct it and her incredible hands-on teaching style.
Judy “was the best environmental educator I have ever had to pleasure to meet,” she said.
During the remembrance portion of the service, several people told stories about Judy, and then her sons, Gregory and Theodore Markowsky, each had time at the podium.
“One thing Mom taught me was to be myself,” Ted Markowsky said, then added jokingly that lesson easily was learned from a “suburban commando” who ran around town always wearing binoculars.
He also said he hoped his mother’s life inspired others.
She would say, “You almost never regret the things you do but you always regret the things you don’t do,” Ted Markowsky said.
His brother Greg Markowsky simply said, “She was really the best mom you could ever imagine.”
The brothers said the death of their mother has been extremely hard on them and the rest of the family.
“At the end of her life, we can all argue she lived a full life,” Greg said.
The memorial for Judy Kellogg Markowsky ended with the people who loved her making the sounds of the birds she loved.