Nancy Richardson, Contributor
At a special meeting of the Selectboard on Wednesday, April 21, the Selectboard and community members struggled to measure the loss to the town and the entire Lake Champlain Basin of two ardent and passionate conservationists. Terry Dinnan and Marty Illick died on Monday while on a small boating trip on Lewis Creek with their three-year old grandson. Their grandson was saved and made his way to their nearby car.
Terry Dinnan was an artist and sculptor and donated his stone quarry in Essex, New York to the Essex Quarry Nature Park. Marty Illick was a legendary figure in the field of conservation for the entire region. A measure of her influence can be traced through the organizations which she either founded or guided through the process of environmental activism over the past forty years. Among these were: The Charlotte Selectboard; The Charlotte Planning Commission; the Vermont Land Trust; the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission; the Charlotte Park and Wildlife Committee; the Charlotte Invasive Collaborative; and the Lewis Creek Association, which she founded.
However, her main influence may have been her inspiration to others to become involved in preserving the environment. One community member said, “she was an amazing inspiration and a mentor in many ways.” She would say, “Just go ahead and do it,” when someone saw a small thing that had to be done. Marty founded organizations and linked them together in way that had large effects on preservation. She wrote grants and conducted field work. “She never met a challenge she did not face.”
The Selectboard crafted a resolution honoring Marty and Terry and their work which can be read at the bottom of this article. Representative Mike Yantachka stated that the Vermont Legislature is working on a Joint Resolution honoring the couples’ lifelong work. Members of the community are working with close family members to determine when a socially distanced community gathering might be held at the library in honor of the couple. Other memorials mentioned, but that have not been established, are a student award for environmental activism, a fund for small Charlotte conservation projects in Marty’s name, and the naming of a wildlife area for her.
Selectboard member, Louise McCarren, said, “We will have to urge Charlotters to find ways, large and small, to advance conservation as a way to honor the passion and public service of Marty and Terry.”
Resolution honoring Marty Illick & Terry Dinnan
By this Resolution, the Charlotte Selectboard honors two residents: Martha Illick and Terrence Dinnan. Both Terry and Marty were tireless and ardent protectors of the environment, which was demonstrated and embodied in many facets of their lives. Marty was also an inspiration and mentor to many others.
Terry, a stone-worker and sculptor, donated a portion of the sale of his quarry in Essex, NY to the Essex Quarry Nature Park.
Marty’s conservation and public service contributions are legendary within the Lake Champlain basin and rippling out well beyond. Her endless efforts include founding the Lewis Creek Association, serving on the Charlotte Selectboard, the Charlotte Land Trust, the Charlotte Planning Commission, and the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, and partnering with other organizations to create the Charlotte Park & Wildlife Refuge, Ahead of the Storm demonstration projects, Charlotte Invasive Collaborative, among many others.
We thank them and, as they would have, urge members of the broader community to find ways large and small to advance conservation as a way to honor the passion and public service for which we will remember Marty and Terry.