Greenpeace activist, animal lover from Stephenville dies in California

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Patrick Columbus Wall, an Emmy-winning environmental activist and animal rescuer from Stephenville, has died at the age of 68 in California following a short illness.

Patrick Columbus Wall with his dog Domino.

He was Greenpeace volunteer in the 1980s and was renowned for several high-profile arrests following a series of international rescues of dolphins and baby seals, as well as smokestack climbing.

In 1981, he received a six-month suspended sentence in Japan for releasing 150 dolphins Japanese fishermen had rounded up and planned to kill.

The Associated Press reported Mr. Wall admitted to rowing a rubber boat into Futo Harbour, located 90 kilometres southwest of Tokyo, and untied a net encircling a large group of dolphins. However, Mr. Wall denied damaging any property or forcibly obstructing local fishing operations.

The Montreal Gazette reported in 1982 that Mr. Wall was one of three Greenpeace members who were arrested for allegedly spraying about 150 harp seal pups with green dye to make their pelts worthless in an attempt to disrupt the Canadian harp seal hunt.

The Canadian Press later reported the trio pleaded guilty and were each fined $1,500 and ordered not to visit Atlantic Canada during the annual seal hunt for three years.

Also in 1982, Mr. Wall was one of three environmentalists who climbed a 500-foot Ontario Hydro smokestack to protest acid-rain pollution. The Associated Press reported Mr. Wall and the others were each issued a $53 ticket for trespassing.

Animal lover

Mr. Wall had a great love for animals and helped rescue many dogs, cats and birds over nearly half a century.

He remained active in environmental causes throughout his life. In 1988, he won an Emmy for a micro-budget documentary on pollution in Marina del Rey, Calif., and he helped establish recycling services in the City of West Hollywood.

He publicized environmental problems via a public access TV program, “Earth Alert,” with such topics as the presence of a UCLA nuclear reactor, a threat to the USC Rose Garden, and the cleanup of Mother’s Beach in Marina Del Rey, Calif.

In 1984, Mr. Wall and his then-wife Janet Bridgers established Earth Alert (www.earthalert.org), an environmental media organization. Among Earth Alert’s initiatives was the cleanup of Santa Monica Bay.

This led to Mr. Wall and Ms. Bridgers connecting with activists who had previously been involved in the 1972 passage of Proposition 20 and the establishment of the California Coastal Commission.

Ms. Bridgers has since gone on to create a video archive and produce a documentary, “Heroes of the Coast,” about the California coastal protection movement.

In recent years, Mr. Wall fed his passion for sustainable gardening by earning a degree in horticulture and completing the LA County Common Ground Garden Program.

For five years he contributed time and dedication as a volunteer for the USDA Master Gardener program, teaching low-income residents to grow supplemental foods.

Mr. Wall also established Green Stuff (www.greenstuff.biz), consulting for various organizations and assisting homeowners by building raised beds for backyard gardening.

Mr. Wall died March 1 at Olive View Medical Center in California.

He is survived by brothers John, Michael and James Wall; sisters Agnes, Marie and Veronica; and numerous nephews, nieces, grand-nephews and -nieces, and cousins, most of whom live in Canada, as well as his ex-wife, Janet Marie Bridgers of Albuquerque.

Mr. Wall was preceded in death by his parents, John Wall in 1967, Ann Wall (née Hayes) in 1981 and two sisters, Mary Ann, in 1998 and Imelda in 2004.

Organizations: California Coastal Commission, Greenpeace, The Associated Press Montreal Gazette Canadian Press Ontario Hydro UCLA Olive View Medical Center

Geographic location: California, Atlantic Canada, Japan Tokyo Marina del Rey West Hollywood Santa Monica Bay Albuquerque

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  • Edith Hokin
    April 12, 2014 - 01:11

    The world has lost a wonderful advocate for all God's creatures great and small. If there were more Patrick's in this world it would be a better place. God has called you home.