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Sunnyside loses popular activist Ellen Bird

Always ready to share a smile or a word of encouragement, long-time Sunnyside Parks and Recreation Commission member Ellen Bird, 76, will be missed.

The popular Sunnyside senior citizen died Tuesday, Feb. 1, at Yakima Regional Hospital in Yakima after suffering a massive stroke Jan. 24.

Bird was doing what she loved best - standing up for the public at a Sunnyside City Council meeting, when she collapsed. She was there to protest the City Council's proposal to issue individual charges on water meters in the local mobile home parks.

"She will be missed," said Sunnyside Mayor Ed Prilucik of the feisty, retired registered nurse and long-time family friend.

"She always did an excellent job for the parks commission, having served since 1998," he added. "She was a real pleasure to work with," Prilucik said.

Bird's health had been at risk for the past year after she suffered a stroke in early 2004. But the determined woman battled back to return to her duties as a park commissioner and as a leader in the Sunnyside Senior Citizens group.

Bird never missed a city council meeting, Prilucik said. "She often offered her opinion on those topics which interested her," he added.

"Ellen was a nice lady," said Joan Niemeyer, who worked closely with Bird at the senior citizen center and with the parks programs.

Although she did step down as president of the Sunnyside Senior Citizens Group in February 2004, she continued to bring extra food to the group's weekly potluck dinners, said Velda Crane, the current group's president.

On Fridays she always picked up day old bread from the Sunnyside Safeway store for the seniors, Crane said.

"She could always be counted on to help out," said Crane.

"She was a fighter," added long-time friend and fellow activist Carol Stone.

"We've lost a good citizen and a fighter for those who couldn't stand up for the elderly, disabled and poor," said Stone.

She was one of the most giving women I have had the honor of knowing," she added.

"We'll miss her contributions to this community, but we will remember her always," Stone added.

Bird is survived by two sons and four grandsons. A complete obituary appears on page 15.

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