Our dear Friend, and former Executive Director, Laurie Waller passed away on November 19, 2020. Laurie served as the leader of Friends of the Rainforest from 2010 - 2014 and continued to support our mission after her departure.
Laurie's connection began in about 1994, when founder Rachel Crandell came to Houston where she was living and gave a talk at her daughter's school.
Laurie would tell anyone that she was immediately hooked on the rainforest. Laurie and Rachel corresponded for years and she'd always wanted go on one of Rachel's eco-tours to the rainforest, but it wasn't until after she moved to St. Louis in 2006 that she had the opportunity to travel with Rachel in 2008.
After Rachel's death in 2009, Laurie stepped into a leadership role at Friends of the Rainforest and became the Executive Director in 2010.
Laurie was unique in her ability to rattle off scientific facts about the rainforest with a child-like wonder of it all. She understood the connection of all living things, the earth, the air, and the water, and took her role in protecting it all very seriously.
In 2011, Laurie told the St. Louis Post Dispatch, "I love our night hikes, and it's fascinating to see what comes out after dark, the myriad kinds of insects and amphibians and snakes and birds. It's like a whole new world after dusk. But things there don't scare me too much. I look for snakes on night hikes, and I was so thrilled to see a beautiful bright yellow pit viper one and a half feet above my head. He was just doing his snake thing, so beautiful and not looking for people to strike at." Laurie leaves behind her daughters Merran and Josie. We welcome you to share your memories of Laurie in our comments section. Laurie touched so many lives and although she was with our organization for a short time, we know her hard work helped build on Rachel's legacy and help set a foundation for future work to come.