Sounding Off:

Vandersloot’s passing a loss for all

November 13, 2009|By Chris Bunyan

Jan Vandersloot will be remembered for being many things to many people. He was a husband, father, physician and unyielding, tireless fighter for the environment.

When Vandersloot suddenly passed away Nov. 4, the world lost a wonderful man. If you did not know Vandersloot then you may have seen the products of his labors when you walked at Bolsa Chica State Park, rode your bike through Fairview Park, or when you surfed the waters off Huntington Beach.

To Vandersloot there was no part of nature that was too small to protect. He fought hard to protect today’s environment so that future generations can enjoy it. He was not timid toward any challenge and always came forth with new ideas and bold environmental projects.


The last time I saw Vandersloot was at the fall walking tour at Fairview Park. Although he had been to Fairview countless times, he was ecstatic to be there. It was as if it was his first time at the park. He was busy taking pictures of tourgoers as well as plants and park wildlife. You could see how Vandersloot was passionately in love with nature.

His credibility was beyond reproach, and whenever he was at a California Coastal Commission hearing or a Newport Beach City Council meeting, everyone listened to what he had to say.

Everyone listened because he was always well-studied and prepared with the subject at hand. He had a way about him that exuded nothing but grace and class. He spoke with a thoughtful meter and listened to everything you had to say. While he was Orange County’s undisputed environmental leader, there was no arrogance about him.

In a world that, at times, is eager to devour and pave over the environment, it was Vandersloot who was the calming voice of reason that told us to slow down and think about what is being done to nature. He blended courage and passion in his strong commitment to nature. He showed that we can bond through nature and become whole again with the environment. During his life he showed that one person can make a remarkable and positive difference in the world.

CHRIS BUNYAN is a Costa Mesa resident.

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