Mark 'Bird' Westall
Mark 'Bird' Westall

Mark “Bird” Westall, Sanibel environmentalist, died February 6 of complications from ALS.

Mark was born March 4, 1952 in Evansville, Indiana to William and Opal Westall who predeceased him. He is survived by Mirella Barnett, his companion of many years, sisters Toni Gentry and Shelby Collins and many friends.

After graduating from Indiana University in 1977 with an Anthropology and Environmental Studies degree, Mark moved to Sanibel looking for his “utopia.” He became a champion for the environment and founded The International Osprey Foundation in 1981. Bird and his Canoe Adventures, Inc. became a fixture at the J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge where he made his living introducing visitors to the wonders of the mangroves.

Bird served as a member of the City of Sanibel Planning Commission from 1985 to 1988, a member of the City Council from 1988 to 1996, two terms as vice mayor from 1990 to 1992 and one term as Mayor from 1992 to 1993. Bird was instrumental in the establishment of the Sanibel Police Pension Fund and the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Conservation District. He also served on the Lee County Eagle Technical Advisory Committee for 10 years.

Bird loved to fly his 1944 Ryan Navion, rode Cisco, his beloved Morgan, and made many trips to the Rocky Mountains and Peru.

A memorial gathering will be held March 12 at 2 p.m. at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, 3333 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel 33957.

The family requests that any donations be made to the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation or the ALS Association.