Remembering Astrid Otero

Sep 30, 2021 | The Sandpiper

March 31, 1928 – May 21, 2021

Astrid Otero is a name that has come up several times over the years that I have been involved with Great South Bay Audubon. Along with people like Fran File, Bob Laskowski, and some others that were critical in the founding and moving forward of our society, she was a name and a story from the past.

I consider myself more than fortunate to have joined at a time when the Merrymans, the Wilsons, Joan Elsabough, and Bill Redshaw were still active. Astrid was the name at the other end of a generous donation and a little note each year – until last year. I got a phone call from her one day explaining that she was extremely concerned about the fact that the Fran File Memorial Bench at Bayard Cutting Arboretum had fallen into ruin. As I began to research and find out what a marvelous woman Fran File was and really began to see the significance of keeping her memory alive, I got to meet, via phone and letters, her good friend and the Society’s historian, Astrid Otero.

We shared a lot of lonely hours talking to each other over the Covid-19 lockdown. While I grieved the loss of my mom, Astrid really filled the gaps. I learned a lot about our Audubon Society, her cat rescue stories, her gardens, her birds, and her health problems (she was 92). Our plans were to finally meet in person when the weather got nice enough. Born in Vienna, Austria, she left her home in Austria in 1948 to marry her Army sweetheart, Hiram Otero, whom she met when she was working for the American Allied Forces in Vienna. Astrid passed this May at the age of 93.

We never got to sit on her porch and have that cup of tea together. Some of our members had the good fortune to know Astrid when she was an active member of a growing Audubon Society. Astrid entered my life as a healing balm reminding me of my focus and obligations to the natural world, during a time when everything else was unnatural. And, as usual, her focus was on giving.

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