Former longtime Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) executive director Bev Day passed away last weekend.
Rescuing and caring for injured birds of prey since 1978, Day was considered a bit of a pioneer in the field.
First taking in injured birds at her Surrey home, she founded the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) in 1985.
With the help of dedicated volunteers, she set up an operation on acreage in Surrey.
When that property was sold, the operation moved to its present location in the 3800-block of 72nd Street in East Ladner.
The face of the organization, Day was affectionately known by some as “the bird lady” in Delta.
She was well respected in the community and was named a finalist for Citizen of the Year in 2010 by the Delta Chamber of Commerce.
In a 2018 interview, Day admitted it had been tough not being involved in the organization she not only loved, but one that was very much a part of her identity over several decades.
Trying to maintain her infectious laugh, Day, who moved into a mobile home in Aldergrove, got tearful when talking about her split with the group she founded, saying it was physically and emotionally draining since her firing in 2014.
It turned out to be a particularly nasty break up with the two sides taking each other to court.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled in favour of Day, finding her employment was wrongly terminated, without cause, and that there was no merit to OWL’s case.
“Even after they fired me I still ended up getting night calls because everybody knew us. The community was behind me and I had so many people tell me they’re glad we won the case but this has been so much stress. That was my life, everything, basically for 40 years,” she told the Optimist.
With her husband Ralph experiencing ongoing health issues and her daughter passing away during the drama, Day said having to defend her character and reputation was particularly difficult.
In the ruling, the judge noted, “(OWL) was a significant and consuming part of her life and sense of self-worth,” adding Day was forced to defend meritless claims concerning her honesty and character.
During his time at OWL, Day said she hoped to one day secure a larger, more modern facility for the operation.
Day, who often carried a big smile and good chuckle, even when describing some of her society's challenges, in a previous interview said she appreciated the community for its continued support.
“We want to thank everyone for supporting us and caring for the birds.” she said.
Bev Day with her husband Ralph Smith in 2018