It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing of Diane Soucy, co-founder of The Raptor Trust, who selflessly dedicated her life to the rehabilitation of wild birds.
Along with her husband, Len Soucy, Diane was there every step of the way: from the inception of The New Jersey Raptor Association in the 1970’s to the eventual incorporation of The Raptor Trust in 1982. From hands-on rehabilitation, to administrative matters, from bylaws and thank you letters to the countless personal sacrifices she made over decades, nearly everything about The Raptor Trust was done through Diane.
For over 50 years, Diane devoted her life to the rehabilitation of wild birds. She inspired thousands of people who called or passed through the doors of The Raptor Trust, looking for help with an injured or orphaned wild bird. For years, she and Len were the sole providers of The Raptor Trust, financing all of the aviaries and supplies completely on their own.
Before there were any standards for wildlife rehabilitation, Diane developed successful songbird diets and recipes through trial and error, which have been shared, replicated, improved upon, and used for decades throughout the larger wildlife rehabilitation community.
Diane wore every hat there was to wear at The Raptor Trust, working as a behind-the-scenes adviser, songbird manager, and emergency resolver. At a time when the phrase “wildlife rehabilitation” didn’t even exist, Diane and her husband were working to develop techniques which would later become the best practices in the field.
Now, the Trust takes in about half of New Jersey’s wild birds for rehab—over 150,000 songbirds, wading birds, waterfowl, hummingbirds, raptors, and other birds have now been admitted here. Ultimately, there would be no Raptor Trust had it not been for Diane’s willingness to go on. She dedicated nearly her entire life to the mission of The Raptor Trust and the well-being of New Jersey’s wildlife.
Fittingly, in 2018, Diane was honored with Conserve Wildlife’s Women in Wildlife Legacy Award. Several of her close friends and colleagues recall not only a prolific and accomplished rehabilitator, but also a quiet, calm spirit that was needed to move The Raptor Trust to where it stands today.
Diane’s cancer grew aggressively in the last two months, compromised her lungs, and quickly led to respiratory failure. With grace and candor, Diane spoke openly about her struggles at the end of her life. She was clear of mind, present, and sharp– her son, Chris Soucy, affectionately recalled that “Though her body had failed her, she was witty, wise-cracking and jabbing me with sarcastic one-liners, even at the very end.”
We take comfort in the warmth and sympathy of our many friends whose lives Diane touched. We deeply appreciate your thoughtfulness and thank you most sincerely.
Details for a memorial gathering to honor Diane’s life and legacy will be announced soon.
In lieu of flowers, the Soucy family requests that donations be made to The Raptor Trust with a note designating “The Leonard and Diane Soucy Memorial Fund.” The Raptor Trust is located at 1390 White Bridge Road, Millington, NJ 07946.
All donations made in Diane’s name will go to the newly-renamed Leonard and Diane Soucy Memorial Fund. Originally established in 2014 in memory of Len Soucy to support the educational programming at The Raptor Trust, we can think of no better tribute to Diane. She and Len began The Raptor Trust together, cared for it throughout their lifetimes, and now that legacy will continue in both of their names.