|Portrait of Russell Libby by Robert Shetterly, from the Americans Who Tell The Truth collection.
The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association announces, with great sadness, the death of its beloved leader Russell Libby, following a long struggle with cancer. He passed away peacefully among his family at his home this morning in Mt. Vernon, Maine. He was 56.
Russell lent his extraordinary leadership skills to MOFGA for almost 30 years. He served on the Board of Directors for a decade before becoming its long-serving Executive Director in 1995. He held that position until November 2 of this year, when he assumed the title of Senior Policy Advisor. In that role he continued to guide the organization with his characteristic wisdom, compassion and dedication, even as his health failed. Prudently, he took many steps to ensure that MOFGA’s course would remain steady in the time to come. A search for a new Executive Director is set to begin on January 1, 2013. MOFGA is currently under the guidance of Heather Spalding, who has worked closely with Russell at MOFGA since 1997.
“We are saddened beyond words by Russell’s passing, but we are grateful for the legacy he has given us,” said MOFGA Board President Barbara Damrosch. “MOFGA has always been a vibrant organization that, through educational and policy work, has advanced the cause of safe, healthful food in Maine and championed the farmers and gardeners who grow it. Russell nurtured MOFGA to the point where its membership now exceeds that of any other state organic group. New farmers look to Maine for encouragement and inspiration.”
A memorial service will take place at the Mount Vernon Elementary School this Saturday at 11:00. MOFGA will host a subsequent gathering in honor of Russell in the Exhibition Hall at the Common Ground Education in Unity. Date and time to be determined.
Many have inquired about contributions in Russell's honor. Russell's family has suggested that donations be made to the Russell Libby Memorial Fund. Checks should be payable to MOFGA, and mailed to P.O. Box 170, Unity, ME 04988. Donations also can be made online.