Today we would like to honor the memory of a wonderful friend of the chimpanzees, Carlene Garza, and share a little of her life with you. How do you sum up a life in a few words? A valid question of course, and perhaps an impossible one to answer. But sometimes, even a small insight to a person, be it a kindness they offered, the way they chose to live their life, or the others whose lives have been made better for having known them, can show you just how big their spirit is and speaks larger than words ever could. Carlene was a long time supporter of the chimpanzees and followed our blog on a daily basis. Sadly, her family shared with us that she recently passed away after a long illness and we have been profoundly touched to learn of the impact the chimpanzees had on her life. Her husband, Joseph, graciously shared Carlene’s feelings about the work we do and the chimpanzees:
“Carlene became interested in the plight of chimpanzees’ in this country after viewing a documentary on the subject. She then went online to see what else she could find and stumbled on your website. When she got done reading the story about your sanctuary and the biographies of each of your charges, she was hooked. She visited your site and connected to your animals through Facebook and hardly a day went by that she did not check-in to see what they had been up to and new from the office. She had her favorites of course, Burrito, Foxie, and Jamie, but circumstances prevented us from supporting your great work in the manner we had wished. When Carlene became ill and we knew that there was no recovery, Carlene had asked that I do something for her friends at CSNW. I promised her I would do what I could. Carlene’s passing came way too soon and I decided that in honor of my dear wife, I would ask that family and friends make a donation to CSNW in memory of her. The success of this campaign has grown beyond my wildest dreams and I know that somewhere my wife has a big smile on her face because she was finally able to help her friends at the sanctuary. My hope is that periodically family and friends will think about Carlene, remember her cause and continue to support your work there at the sanctuary.”
We are deeply touched by Carlene’s story and are honored to have received many donations for the chimpanzees as a result of her and her family and friends. And they continue to come in!
Carlene and “the first love of her life,” King:
As if the Garza family has not been generous enough, Joseph also requested that he be able to send Carlene’s cowboy boots to Jamie as a special gift. Well, in perfect timing they just arrived and we couldn’t wait for Jamie to see them! After a quick safety inspection, we asked volunteer caregiver, Sandra, to model them for Jamie’s surprise. Jamie usually wants to immediately inspect new boots, but this time she immediately wanted Sandra to wear them for a walk around Young’s Hill!
Upon their return, Jamie was ready to take a closer look at her gift:
Jamie loves to groom her boots after they’ve been out for an adventure:
Jamie asked for the boots after this photo and we passed them through the safety chute to her where she promptly held them to her forehead, a moment of pure boot love. Then she disappeared with them to the very top of the greenhouse where she built a nest with them. I couldn’t climb quite high enough to get a clear photo, but you can just make out the tips of the boots under her chin:
Joseph, we cannot thank you and your family enough for all you have done for the chimpanzees. We are incredibly moved that you would choose to make their lives better and at a time when you have suffered such immeasurable loss. Please know that the chimpanzees lives have been made better as a result of your and Carlene’s incredible generosity, along with that of your family and friends. And the life of one who has made the lives of so many others better, is a life to celebrate. We are honored to celebrate Carlene’s memory with you today. From all of the primates at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, we send you our deepest gratitude and wish you the comfort and joy that Carlene has shared with so many others.
Joseph kindly shared Carlene’s obituary with us. If you would like to learn more about the live of this beautiful woman, you may do so here.