This morning heard some genuinely devastating news: Dr Lew Young had a fatal heart attack yesterday.
Our sincerest condolences go out to his family, Deborah and Omi and Ken, and to his hundreds of friends. We have all lost a wonderfully sincere, generous and kind friend and colleague; a man who worked tirelessly and honestly over decades for conservation at Mai Po, then through the Ramsar Secretariat, and since last year as Chief Executive of the Secretariat of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership here in the ROK. We will all miss him, deeply.
I first met Lew back in 1991 or 1992, when he was starting to manage Mai Po Nature Reserve in Hong Kong. Even then he opened-up his office and home, giving me a room to sleep in. Our paths crossed dozens of times over the years that followed, mostly in China and Korea. Our last conversation together was only a week ago on skype – discussing ideas on biodiversity conservation to share with the Ministry of Environment. Like usual, he had plenty of his own ideas but nonetheless still listened patiently, probably with that wry grin crossing his face from time to time: always encouraging and inclusive, even though there were other meetings to get to and other things to do.
Lew, you have been one of the most outstanding conservation leaders on this Flway, an inspiration to many, both professionally and personally. You helped Mai Po grow; you helped Ramsar to grow in Asia; and you were vital to the wetlands project which encouraged the accession of the DPRK to Ramsar and joining the EAAFP. All of these are remarkable successes. And all of these you achieved with a smile, and an open mind and heart. Thank you so much, my friend. And fare well.