We at The Allegheny Front were saddened to learn that Chuck Tague, naturalist and longtime commentator for our program, passed away last Friday, June 17. He was 71. Chuck helped start this program back in 1991 when there weren’t many places in western Pennsylvania to hear about environmental news or learn about nature. For the next decade, Chuck volunteered his time nearly every week to record his essays and stories of the birds, plants, animals and special places of our region.
“Nature is a sense of discovery,” Chuck told us in an interview back in 2008. “If you walk along, there’s always new things, surprising things. The more I know, the more I’m surprised. And just being able to see that discovery in other people when they come across a flower or a bird; or watching an eagle flying across, just popping over the horizon suddenly; looking under a rock or under a leaf finding a caterpillar. Realizing, here I am in the bleakness of western Pennsylvania, home to polluted water and strip mines that I grew up with, and I’m still finding more and more life, more and more beauty.”
Read on for fellow naturalist and Allegheny Front contributor Kate St. John’s remembrance of Tague. Or listen to some of our favorite essays and interviews from Chuck below.
LISTEN: “Tague Talks about His Fascination with Nature”
LISTEN: “Field of Innocence: Tague’s Essay on the Flight 93 Crash”
LISTEN: “Chuck Tague on Writing About Nature”
Chuck Tague was an avid nature observer, writer, photographer and inspiring teacher. He touched thousands of lives with his love of nature and sense of wonder. His enthusiasm for the outdoors was infectious.
I first met Chuck more than 20 years ago when I attended his birding classes at the former Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University. His welcoming spirit changed my life. I spent more time birding, attended outings, joined the Wissahickon Nature Club and assisted him on the Raccoon Christmas Bird Count. We became friends and I traveled with Chuck and his wife, Joan, to Presque Isle and Magee Marsh for spring migration and visited them in Florida where they made their home in 2010.
His outings were pure fun. He never limited our curiosity as we examined birds, plants, insects, everything! We always learned something new.
Chuck was an excellent photographer and generous with his time and knowledge. When I began writing my blog—Outside My Window—he graciously offered his photos. He was always available to answer questions and we collaborated on projects which we mirrored on his website and mine. My blog would not have been possible without him.
Many of my friends today are people I met on Chuck’s outings. All of us are grieving. It’s hard to believe he’s gone, though he lives on in all of us. His own words in last week’s broadcast inspire us as we remember him:
“I picked up the dried bluet stem and examined the tear-shaped seed capsule. There was the life affirming assurance I was seeking. Life will continue. Bluets will return to the field.”
I need to go find some bluets.
—Kate St. John