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It is with deep sorrow that we must announce the passing of our Wild Paws Board President and dear friend, Myk Hamlin. It is unfathomable that we would lose Myk so suddenly. Our board of directors extends our deepest condolences to his wife of nearly 48 years, fellow board member and historian, Daryle, as well as to his extended family and friends.
Myk passed away at home on September 10, 2016, at 72. Following his retirement, he established many cherished friends through his volunteer work associated with animal welfare organizations and gardening groups. Anyone who has had the privilege of walking through Myk and Daryle’s gardens (with over 700 varieties of hostas) has experienced magic and surprises on each winding path.
In our first Meet Our Crew article, Myk described his passion for animals, “As probably is true with many people, I started loving animals at a young age.” He really wanted a pet, and once had a bright idea and walked around the neighborhood collecting dogs. “I had about 10 or 11 in our front porch before mom found out.” She was not too pleased but within a few years he was finally able to first get a dog, and then a couple of cats, which started his lifetime of pet companionship.
“My wife and I have always had one or more cats in the house and, at some point (lost in the mists of time), I started to fixate on tigers. To me, they are the most beautiful of all cats. I joined, and dropped from, a few “Save the Tiger” types of organizations, but did not become really active in that effort until I retired in 2001. The following year I responded to a newspaper article about an animal sanctuary.” He volunteered there and was head of the maintenance department for over 10 years.
“That experience, and the people who I worked with, got me more involved in finding out more and doing something about helping wildlife. When I was given the opportunity to help start Wild Paws in 2014, I jumped in with both feet.”
The passion and energy he put forth into our organization, and the search for the right piece of property, is something we will all strive to uphold.
The following is excerpted from one of our board member’s (Trista Fischer) and his niece’s (Katie Hamlin) eulogies. We feel their words speak for us and wanted to share them with all of you, so you will gain a closer understanding just how much Myk meant to us and to our organization.
Trista spoke of how “We shared a passion for helping better the lives of animals in need and designing and building things, in particular enclosures for wild animals. After just a couple times working alongside him I quickly realized that he and I would be good friends. I appreciated his hard work ethic and I especially enjoyed his sarcasm and our witty banter.
Over the course of our friendship Myk became like a second father to me. He was always there when I needed advice, and he encouraged and pushed me to work hard for what I believe in and he will continue to inspire me to achieve my goals.
One of my favorite traits Myk had was his unique sense of humor. He taught all of us to embrace ourselves and enjoy the moment. Though there was one time he and Daryle told me and another friend that we were going to a bookstore where a bunch of people dressed up in their Harry Potter garb were going to meet a Harry Potter tour. We were all decked out, Daryle having made us some amazing wands to really make us legit.
We showed up at the bookstore to find that it was a children’s bookstore and the only other adults that were dressed up were the actors on the tour!
Yet while Myk was always up for a joke and to make people laugh, he had one of the largest hearts of anyone I know. He was incredibly supportive of those he cared about. He absolutely loved and adored Daryle and their love for one another is such a huge inspiration.”
His niece Katie also spoke at his memorial. “Making you laugh was a source of pride for me. To make you laugh, the words needed to be smart, witty, sharp. It was no small feat to make you laugh. And I loved your laugh. You were so full of life. So. Full. Of. Life. Which is why it is so hard for me to fathom that yours has suddenly ended.”
She went on to thank him “for making me laugh and learn and showing me through example how to embrace everything that is unique and eccentric and weird about myself and love it and not apologize for it but to show it proudly to the world saying, 'This is me. I'm spectacular. Deal with it.'"
Myk will be terribly missed by all of us and we will inform you of board updates as soon as we can. Dr. Noemi Plantz, DVM, will be our Interim Board President. Myk’s family asked that memorials may be directed to Wild Paws. Please visit the donate page if you would like to contribute to the Myk Hamlin Memorial Fund.
As Trista also appropriately added, “May we all be reminded of Myk as we walk through our gardens or feel the purr of a cat on our laps.” Wild Paws will always remember Myk for his integrity, work ethic and humor. He will forever be missed, and always be a part of our organization.