Her name was Meredyth but everyone knew her as Merry, “just like in Christmas,” she told one person.
When she died last week from a rare blood disease, Merry Breed was park manager at Claude Moore Park in Sterling, part of the Loudoun County Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services.
“Merry was always interested in nature. She loved going on hikes and walking on trails,” said Phil Daley, a past president of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy. “She even talked me into going on a night hike without a flashlight!”
Daley said that while she was still a pre-school teacher at Sterling Community Center, Merry worked with him to set up natural history camps in the 1990s for the Piedmont Environmental Council. “She later went on to work as a naturalist at Claude Moore Park,” said Daley.
A longtime member of and volunteer with Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, Merry shared her knowledge and her love of and joy in nature with fellow supporters of the organization, as well as with park visitors and parishioners of her beloved St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Sterling.
Merry Breed and friends after planting a waystation.
Here, in appreciation, are some Loudoun Wildlife tributes to Merry Breed.
Nicole Hamilton, Executive Director
Merry was an amazing woman. Her love of nature and passion for sharing it was infectious. I knew her best through our Monarch campaign. She rallied the people at St. Matthew’s to convert lawn in front of their church into a Monarch waystation garden that became alive with pollinators and welcomed Monarchs.
She made Monarch lifecycle costumes and put on plays for her congregation and others to share the Monarch story. She worked with her team at Claude Moore and with teachers at Sterling Elementary School to plant milkweed, raise Monarch caterpillars and inspire others to do the same. She and I often talked about Monarchs and how the magic of it all never gets old.
Merry was fearless, would speak for wildlife and habitats and the human connections. She shared her knowledge so freely.
Last February we did our amphibian program kickoff with her at Claude Moore and we walked through the woods at night in order to hear and see frogs. Bats flew through the trees as we shuffled along the path; toads and frogs called from the pond. She was in her element and I will always remember and cherish those moments together.
Merry was keeping the magic alive every day and we know she continues to smile with us with every wild encounter and every heart touched by nature.
Sarah Steadman, Youth and Family Programs Chair
Most people know that Merry’s nickname comes from her name Meredyth, but I always imagined it could be short for ‘merriment.’
In everything she did, in every class she led, in all the classroom walls, nature center features, and event tables she crafted, and always in her wide-eyes and in the enthusiasm of her voice — especially when engaging with children — Merry was joyful! She gifted so many with her mirthful light and teaching.
I first met Merry when our Monarch conservation paths crossed, but we really bonded over our shared passion for environmental education and youth.
Evermore, when I visit Claude Moore Visitor Center, especially the beautiful Monarch waystation she established there, I will tip my hat to this master educator, passionate conservationist, and loving grandmother.
Ann Garvey, Audubon At Home Coordinator
It was at the very first orientation for volunteers on the Plant NoVA Natives campaign that I meet Merry. That evening in 2014, Merry was tooling around with one leg on a scooter recovering from a recent leg surgery.
She said, ‘Hi I’m Merry, just like in Christmas, and I’d like to help on this campaign.’
And help she did working the Loudoun Wildlife Native Plant Sale at Morven Park, handing out Plant NoVA Native guides. Whenever there was an event at Claude Moore Park, there was a display of information on Plant NoVA Natives that Merry had arranged.
She lived what she preached about the importance of native plants for our animals by helping to establish monarch waystations at Claude Moore, her church and her home.
Like many people, I will miss Merry as will the plants and animals she cared so much for.
Katherine Daniels, President
I worked a long shift with Merry at one of our plant sales a couple of years ago. She and I were exhausted as the event finally ended. We were two of the few left to clean up.
I was limping with sore knees and feet. She told me about her rheumatoid arthritis and immunologic treatment. She had such a great attitude regarding how much the latter helped her. She stayed and helped until we were done. It inspired me to push, too.
She was a very kind person who really loved nature!