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Shirley and Ferrel Schell: Lifetime of Dedication to Forest Motivates Bequest

"The children say camping in the redwoods was the best thing we did when they were growing up." —Shirley Schell

Shirley and Ferrel Schell’s lifelong love affair with redwoods has had many memorable moments. One of those moments was celebrating a grove dedication at Navarro River Redwoods State Park in 2007. More recently, they added Save the Redwoods League to their wills.

But the story began when they were newlyweds. Ferrel was in the Navy. While his ship cruised from San Diego to Portland, Shirley followed along the coast in a car. In Northern California, she took time out to see the redwoods. "Coming from Kansas, I just couldn’t believe it," Shirley said. "Those marvelous things! So beautiful!"

Soon after, Shirley brought Ferrel to see the towering trees of Humboldt Redwoods State Park. They noticed markers honoring people who had contributed to the trees' protection.

"They were impressive," Ferrel said, "but we never thought we would be able to do it."

Two or three times a year, the whole family would camp in a redwood park. They enjoyed crafts, singing and campfire programs, and even braved campground visits from wild boars and bears.

"The children say camping in the redwoods was the best thing we did when they were growing up," Shirley said.

When asked about their contributions to Save the Redwoods League, Ferrel looks intently at his wife. "There was never any doubt, was there?" he asked.

"No, we both felt very deeply," she said.