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In Memory of Fran and Bunny Wood

Caretakers of the Leschi-Lake Dell Natural Area


Betsy Zickler remembers Leschi volunteers superb, Fran and Bunny Wood, who both quietly passed away in the last two years. The couple were the leading stewards of the Leschi-Lake Dell Natural Area, 36th and East Terrace.

For many years this beautiful hidden gem of a park was lovingly looked after by Fran and Bunny Wood, whose home a few steps away allowed them easy access to the park on a daily basis. They both worked tirelessly in the park and with Seattle Parks and Recreation crews, as well as with Forterra, an organization “dedicated to conserving wild lands and green and prosperous communities” and Earth Corps when large tree removal and steep hillside work was required. Their friend Rich Appleton also spent hundreds of hours over the years working with Fran and Bunny in both the hard labor of maintenance in the park and serving as a liaison with Parks, Forterra and Earth Corps.

Fran and Bunny organized monthly work parties for on-going maintenance, purchases of plants and trees and work parties for fall and spring plantings. Most work parties consisted of a small dedicated group of five or six folks [Fran and Bunny, Rich Appleton, Diane Morris, Marianne Steele (traveling from Olympia!) and Betsy Zickler), with larger work parties sometimes joining in during the planting sessions. Other organized groups volunteered from the University of Washington typically on Earth Day and Martin Luther King Jr Day. Occasionally a few individuals from the surrounding neighborhood would stop by to help.

Throughout it all Bunny would supply everyone with lunches she made–sandwiches from homemade bread, just-baked cookies, chips, seasonal fruits and vegetables and drinks–we never went hungry and some folks noted they came for the food and fell in love with the work. Work parties were held regardless of the weather, and we ate a number of lunches in their garage to keep warm and dry with Bunny providing warming soups to keep us going. Fran would make daily (or more) trips to pick up trash left behind by visitors and maintained a vigilance over the site. He befriended everyone who visited and continuously encouraged all to join in the work parties, with varying success.

Fran and Bunny’s tireless efforts in maintaining this park ended a few years ago when they relocated to Corvallis, Oregon, to be closer to Bunny’s family. Sadly, Fran died in July 2022, aged 93, and Bunny passed away in September 2023 at age 92. The park has lost its leaders, and due to aging and illness the remaining few members of the work parties have been unable to continue. Thus, the park has declined in the recent years, in part due to the Parks department being so thinly stretched in its maintenance of our city park areas due to budgetary cuts.

It would be nice to see younger members of the community begin regular work parties again to restore the Leschi-Lake Dell Natural Area to its former beauty. Such efforts would be a welcome tribute to Fran and Bunny's love and care of this natural area, ready to be enjoyed again by future generations.

~Betsy Zickler


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