YuLee Larner, known as the 'Bird Lady' of Staunton, Va. and the subject of the Birding Wire's feature article on April 3, died Tuesday, April 9. She was 89.
The article, written by Nancy Sorrells, noted that Mrs. Larner's failing health had recently prompted her to cease writing her column and birding and nature, which had appeared regularly in the Staunton News Leader newspaper since 1977.
"Almost 36 years and more than 1,800 columns later, the Bird Lady is closing her notebook and putting the cap on her pen," Sorrells wrote. "The family says that for health reasons, Larner, 89, will no longer be writing her column for the paper."
Her columns, "Random Ramblings" and "Larner Lines," which appeared weekly from 1977 until 2009 and then bi-weekly after that, were just the tip of the iceberg for this woman who was an expert pianist and organist, local historian and perhaps the most respected self-taught ornithologist in Virginia.
An editorial appearing in the April 10 Staunton Leader paid tribute to Larner, mentioned her other writings, including three editions of "Birds of Augusta County, Virginia" and the 850-page "Virginia's Birdlife: An Annotated Checklist."
"With gratitude and sorrow, we remember her final published words here at the News Leader," the editorial read. "On March 18, she left us with this: 'The snow was beautiful and once it started to melt, the birds had a picnic. I had a picnic, too.'"