Citizens' Committee to Complete the Refuge

Working for the protection of Bay Area wetlands

Tribute to Janice Delfino

 
 

Tribute by Joelle Buffa and Clyde Morris

 
SOME FOND MEMORIES OF JANICE DELFINO
 
Janice and Frank, Frank and Janice; we never saw them apart in all the decades we have known them. They were like a peanut and jelly sandwich: they just went together so well! Frank was the peanut butter part (Skippy, of course) - technical and sticky, tough to get past the point he wanted to make. Wllile Janice was the sweet part - so kind. gentle, and determined. Together they were a dynamic and knowledgeable duo to deal with.Janice Delfino Carin High
 
One of our favorite times was dinner at I-HOP before the monthly Citizens Meeting. It was such a joy to spend the dinner hour getting their update on the latest crazy development schemes in the Hayward Area. and how the weeds and tems were doing at Alameda. Just listening to all they were doing wore us out, let alone actually trying to keep up with them. Of course, true to their kind nature of always thinking of others, they would bring us a 2 for 1 coupon for the dinner, along with a truck-load of lemons, rhubarb, and whatever else was growing in their carefully tended garden. They got so tired of us asking for more rhubarb, they finally made us a custom-designed planter with our own rhubarb to tend. Of course. growing our own just wasn't the same as getting it from them along with the latest stones which always came with the free vegetables.
 
Family and friends from other pans of the country often remark: "I think I'd miss the change of seasons living in Califomia. " Not if they had friends like Janice. The harbinger of spring was boxes of lemons that would magically appear on the Refuge kitchen table, my desk, even our doorstep. Summer meant tomatoes, rhubarb, and a comucopia of other delicious veggies. In fall Janice would be pushing those persimmons. Now what are we going to do with all of those persimmon cookie, muffins, cake recipes we amassed? Christmas would be celebrated with homemade jam and Skippy carefully wrapped in a colorful towel. Lemons. How long will it be before we can look at a lemon without thinking of Janice? When Joelle's mother visited from Chicago, Janice loaded her up with lemons for the trip home. She insisted that we take a box along on our cross-country move to Virginia. Janice served up the best fresh lemonade we've ever tasted the first time she had us over for dinner. The morning of the scheduled dinner Janice called. her voice full of concem. We thought that her or Frank were sick and wanted to cancel. No. Janice was worried that it was so hot, and since they didn't have air conditioning, we'd be uncomfortable. She had decided to serve us dinner in the cooler basement, and was concemed that we would be "offended".
 
That is so typical Janice. She is the most considerate. selfless person we've known. She was always doing so much for the Refuge, the wildlife, us, and others, that eventually I figured out a small way to repay her kindnesses. She loved Joelle's homemade bread. We'd give her a loaf whenever we could. Each time. she'd send a handwritten note or phone Joelle (sometimes both), to thank us. She was the most pleasant person to be around. Even when she was complaining about some environmental bad deed, or Cargill, she had the uncanny ability to sound so sweet about it.
 
Though we first met Janice in the mid 1980s, when we worked for the EPA (Clyde) and Corps (Joelle), she became indispensable when we came to work for the San Francisco Bay NWR in the mid 90s. Being new to the job and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Clyde wanted desperately to make people think he knew what he was doing. When someone asked him a question that he couldn't answer, he told them that he'd research the answer and get back to them. He'd quickly phone the Delfinos and Janice would just as quickly reach into her and Frank's extensive mental and paper files, and give him the answer. Folks were always amazed that such a new employee knew so much because he never let on that he was going to his ace in the hole. the Delfinos for his answer. Later, when he wasn't so afraid of looking dumb, and the press called with a tough question, he would just give them the Delfino's number so they could get the answer light from the source. Often, people would call him back thanking him for connecting them with such an amazing and delightful person.
There are so many ways in which our lives are richer having had Janice as a mend. But some of the most precious are these: That you can be sweet and tough at the same time. That compassion combined persistence is an unbeatable combination. That it is possible work tirelessly on the big issues, while still taking the time to make individuals feel special. And finally. even in this gadget-filled age, you really don 't need to have e-mail or the intemet to accomplish great things!
 
We will miss her and are grateful that Frank is still with us.

From 2008 Save Wetlands Newsletter

 In June of this year, our organization suffered a terrible loss when our dear friend Janice Delfino passed away. Janice was one of our founding members and our institutional memory. She and Frank have been the keepers of maps current and historic of our baylands. Janice and Frank could be relied upon to tell us not only who owned a particular tract of land, but also relate that parcel's history.

We depended upon Janice when we needed a thorough and accurate accounting of what had transpired at previous meetings. She would pull out her handwritten notes, which she seemed to be able to find at a moment's notice and who had said what. 

Janice was dedicated, tireless, tenacious, effective, knowledgeable, gracious, and beloved. We will miss her and send our love to Frank and family. Photo of Janice and Frank

On Saturday, November 22, 2008 family and friends celebrated her life and accomplishments at the refuge she helped to create. Linda Patterson designed a beautiful memorial bench that is at once a wonderful addition to the wildlife refuge and lasting tribute to Janice's efforts to protect our bay. The vantage point from the bench will provide current and future generations a glorious view of the bay and wildlife thriving in an area that might have been developed and lost forever were it not for the tireless struggle of people like Janice. 

Thanks to Linda Patterson, the staff of the DESFBNWR, and donations made in Janice's behalf for making this well deserved tribute possible.

Tribute by Florence LaRiviere

We have lost a beautiful and gracious friend. The Bay has lost one of its most knowledgeable and effective advocates. 

Janice's knowledge of the South Bay was legend. Rick Coleman, when he was manager of the refuge, never had to look up pond acreages when he needed them in a hurry —he could just turn to Janice who would give him the answer, correct to the nearest one tenth of a square foot! When she might not have information available immediately, she would refer to her files. We all have files, but Janice could find things, given "a couple of minutes"! 

It was not only Janice's brilliant understanding of both the natural and political features of the shoreline that made her so effective; it was also that cheerful and warm way she had of expressing her love of the marshes, the ponds and the creatures that inhabit them. 

Many of the land battles on the Hayward Shoreline have been resolved, but not all. Those of us who knew and loved Janice will continue her work.
San Francisco Bay would be a very different place had not Janice and her husband Frank devoted decades advocating for the protection of the natural shoreline. 

Deepest love to Frank, his sons and daughters-in-law.

Tribute by Rick and Carolyn Coleman, Ann, Julie, Colin, Robin, Philip and Katherine

 Dear Frank, Florence, Philip and all of Janice's Friends: 

I really wish I could be there for the dedication of Janice's bench, a permanent reminder to all that venture up the refuge hill that one person can really make a difference in our natural and public world. Janice did just that with a passion and positive attitude that inspired refuge managers and staff, volunteers and citizen activists. From this hill top, you can see wetlands in every direction that Janice helped to protect, forever! 

I knew Janice as a refuge volunteer and as wetland protector. She brought Frank along, to keep the conversation going when she stopped to take a breath, or to get some more delicious home grown fruit or Skippy peanut butter out of the back of Frank's tidy truck. I recall many volunteer events pulling weeds at Anticoch Dunes or vegetation work with Janice. She gravitated to the botanical opportunities of refuge management. She worked so hard and made us all work harder just trying to keep up. 

I also remember how kind and thoughtful Janice was, especially to my young daughters, Ann and Julie. She always greeted them at volunteer events and would help them be "helpful" in the cause, whatever the task. We have a great picture of the girls covered in mud after helping Janice and Frank with the first boardwalk construction to LaRiviere Marsh. Of course Ann and Julie loved the home-grown fruit as well, especially the raspberries, jewels from their garden.
Janice was the Bay Area walking encyclopedia on wetlands and pending development projects. Ask her anything about a bay wetland and she could recite the acreage, wetland type, vegetation and the pending threats to that wetland. She had a vast knowledge of contaminants and salt-making propaganda as well. During the campaign to double the authorized size of the refuge, Janice was always there front and center to make a public statement and encourage legions to follow her lead. I was one of those first to follow, as she never ceased to press on, to hope and to inspire all of us to dream bigger dreams and act on those dreams. 

Most of all Janice was a friend, a warm hug, a big beautiful smile and she flashed a radiant gleeful glint in her eyes. We miss her and honor her today and always, as she made a difference, a legacy, that will last forever. 

We also lift up Frank today, as the full partner in the Delfino - Delfino legacy. Thank you Frank for sharing Janice with us for all these years. We want to return the blessing, by sharing our love for you today and always.

Tribute by Margaret Lewis

 
Janice was the star of many Refuge Committee meetings. She always knew who owned what parcel of land and how many acres it contained. She knew what was buried and when. Nothing got past her. She knew the name and location of all the north and south bay salt ponds. She knew who was the previous owner of that obscure north bay seasonal wetland. She knew how many least terns returned to Alameda and the number and location of nests. I always knew that whatever she said during a meeting was correct. And she made the best butterscotch cookies and berry jello.
 
I remember all the good times at Refuge volunteer Tideline work parties. Janice would always have a smile on her face as she stuck labels on the newsletters. And there were the stories about how the raspberries had attacked her the previous day of picking. Or the lengthy BCDC meeting and presentations that went far beyond their date of expiration. She would tell us the latest news of happenings on the Hayward shoreline. Some of the stories were hair-raising but Janice remained her calm self and showed her side of determination to protect wildlife and habitat. She enjoyed hearing what was happening in other areas around the bay. She was most sympathetic to my plight of living in Newark and enduring rants from the mayor and city council when I brought them to task over some environmental issue. No story was too small or unimportant. They were all a part of the fabric of our lives as we strove to protect mammal and reptile.
 
Janice and Frank always shared their garden goodies at Refuge Committee meetings and Refuge volunteer events. One day it would be citrus, then rhubarb; followed by berries, walnuts and persimmons. When she wasn't attending some meeting or reading an environmental impact report, Janice was tending her lush garden. There were squirrels to chase out of the walnut tree. Birds pecking at boysenberries. Wildlife was allowed a small percent but Janice stopped at their wanting to eat it all. She made us laugh at the stories of garden spiders and hummingbirds chasing a cat. Her garden was a mix of work and play.
 

Tribute by Carin High

These are words that come to mind when I think of Janice:  Advocate, aerial photographs, class-act, dedicated, details, details, details, effective, Frank, friend, gracious, institutional memory, knowledgeable, MAPS, organized, passionate, raspberries, Refuge, remarkable, role model, smile, tenacious, thoughtful, tireless, typewriter, walnuts, warm, wetlands ...memorable... irreplaceable... missed.
 

Tribute by Andre Greenberg

   
Janice Delfino was a pleasure to work with since she was always smiling, respectful, and very earnest about her San Francisco Bay environmental projects. She was heard at many meetings over the years making a strong case to save vital habitats. She has left behind a wonderful legacy and will be sorely missed.