Monday, July 24, 2017

Building the Future Through Education

This year, in honor of our 35th anniversary, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center is asking our supporters to match a generous $10,000 bequest from Mirriel Bedell, the mother of co-founder Judy D’Amore, to underwrite our commitment to place-based, people-powered, hands-on learning. Donate today to help us reach our goal and fulfill our mission to inspire conservation of the Salish Sea!

You may not immediately recognize the name Mirriel Bedell, but it’s fair to say that if you are passionate about conserving the Salish Sea, this inspiring woman has impacted your life.
Mirriel Bedell

That’s because Mirriel was not only a remarkable person in her own right, she is also the mother of Port Townsend Marine Science Center co-founder Judy D’Amore.

Born in 1919 in Chicago, Mirriel was raised by her mother and two aunts after her father’s death.  She received a degree in chemistry at the University of Iowa, where she also met and married Jack Hummel. Over the next few years, the family grew to include their daughter Judy, the eldest, and four other children.

Learning about the natural world was a "given" in Hummel 
family life. 

“Nature was important to both our parents,” says Judy. “We took lots of camping and canoeing trips when we were growing up. My parents even moved us to a house on the edge of town where our backyard consisted of five acres of woods.”

Mirriel’s inquisitive nature served her children well.

“Science and exploration were always a very big part of our lives,” Judy explains. “We raised chickens, rescued and rehabilitated snapping turtles and baby birds, and caught fish from local streams for our aquarium. There were endless tadpoles and, somewhere along the way, even a pet skunk!”

Throughout her children’s lives, Mirriel endowed them with the belief that anything was possible, and that the post-WWII days represented an exciting time where “the doors were open.”

When her husband died, Mirriel obtained a teaching certificate and continued to pursue her passion for knowledge by teaching high school science. She would later marry George Bedell, a physician and widower with four children of his own.

“George was a very kind and thoughtful man,” says Judy. “I think he felt that Mirriel would be a great mother for his children. And she was -- for all nine of us.”

As the Hummel and Bedell children entered adulthood and started their own families, Mirriel continued to share her enthusiasm for education by bringing her grandchildren to summer camps at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.  

Last fall, Mirriel passed away at the age of 97. But that was not the end of her story. Her inspiring legacy lives on at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, thanks to a $10,000 bequest from her estate.

We are grateful to Mirriel, not only for inspiring Judy and her siblings, but also for her generous gift that will allow future generations to learn about the curiosities and wonders of the Salish Sea. Her life is a testament to the eloquent words of English philosopher Herbert Spencer: “The great aim of education is not knowledge, but action.”

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