Carolyn “Candy” Dean, naturalist, environmentalist, advocate for human rights, and the arts, died January 6, 2018, surrounded by family in San Francisco, California. Candy was born in Marion, North Carolina on January 22, 1925. She and her husband, Francis, were longtime residents of Vashon and found their true home on the island.
Candy loved art, music and nature and left a lasting impression by sharing this appreciation with her family and friends. In her youth, she demonstrated considerable talent with the clarinet, devoting hours a day to its’ practice and playing in her high school band. Her director hoped she would consider a career as a musician. She was never without a book and it brought her great happiness to become immersed in a good story. Candy was an avid birder and was adept at identifying species by their song and appearance. Her paper, “Birds in Art,” was an example of how she related art to the natural world, writing, “As the wild areas of our earth gradually diminish, it becomes more urgent to understand the complex relationships in the natural community, and to record that which may be forever lost. Creative interpretation of the world of birds will surely help us in our search for new values and a richer meaning to life.”
Candy received her Bachelor of Science degree at Winthrop University in 1944, and her Master’s degree at Yale School of Nursing, beginning her career in 1947. Her first nursing job paid $41 a week and while a visiting nurse, she and her colleagues made 12,756 visits in one year. Candy also taught classes to expectant mothers and founded a nursery school. She met her first husband, Dr. George Friou, when he was a resident at Yale. Eventually they married and had four children.
The family lived in Orange, Connecticut, spent a year in England, then Oklahoma City and later Pasadena, California. Candy loved spending summers with her family on an island in Maine and had a strong connection with the landscape and nature of the area. She was the president of the League of Women’s Voters while in Pasadena and a docent at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum where among her many duties, she worked to develop educational kits for children. She worked as a curator support volunteer for many years at the San Bernadino County Museum assisting with exhibits as well as national and international field trips. Candy’s travels to study art and the natural world were extensive throughout her life with destinations including Europe, Galápagos Islands, multiple trips to Central and South America, the Pribilof Islands (Alaska), and other countless trips throughout the United States.
Candy’s first marriage to George Friou ended in divorce after 25 years. She married Francis Dean in 1971, later moving to Vashon Island. A long-time member of Audubon, Candy became the secretary of the Vashon-Maury Island Audubon Society, and joked that it was the only position she had never held. She helped start the Breeding Bird Survey on Vashon as well as being active with Vashon Audubon’s Recycling Committee. She educated all of us through the Audubon Shade Coffee Campaign, writing in the Island Wings Newsletter, “Since U.S. consumers use 33% of the world’s coffee, choosing shade grown coffee will make a real difference and save habitat for migratory birds”.
On the acreage of their home on Vashon, the Deans donated an easement to the Vashon Maury Island Land Trust in 1997, in effect preserving a section of natural wooded environment that will always carry the name, “The Dean Easement,” a lasting legacy to the island. The songbirds of this oasis are like nothing you have ever heard in the springtime, a sound that resonated deeply with Candy and all who heard them. Candy and Francis remained happily married until his death in 2003. Due to health concerns, Candy moved to San Francisco, California in 2010, where she continued to enjoy walks, birding and many visits from family.
Candy is survived by daughters; Deborah Dillon, Linda Friou, Sally Friou, son; George Friou, grandchildren; Tad, Travis, Cosmo, Shae, and Izaak, great-granddaughter; Olive, stepson; Gary Dean, stepdaughter; Tami Dean, step-grandchildren; Ben and Lily. She was loved and respected by her family, friends, and community and will be dearly missed. Donations in her name can be made to Vashon-Maury Island Audubon Society, PO Box 838, Vashon, WA 98070 or Vashon Maury Island Land Trust, 10014 SW Bank Rd., Vashon, WA 98070. A private memorial will be held this spring at her favorite place – Point Robinson.