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Wildlife Rescue Center Honors Longtime Supporter Marty Richards

Originally Posted: August 12, 2009

Edward Callaghan

Host Bruce Richards welcomes guests to "Get Wild" honoring Marty Richards. Photos by John Wegorzewski

Southampton - "Get Wild," the Wildlife Rescue Center of The Hamptons' annual mid-summer bash paid tribute to one of its longtime supporters, producer Martin Richards at a lovely cocktail party on the sprawling lawns of Avis and Bruce Richards magnificent Little Plains estate on Saturday, Aug. 1.

Honorary chairs Ellen and Chuck Scarborough.

Honorary chairs Liz Brown and Leslie Alexander, Margo McNabb Nederlander and Ellen and Chuck Scarborough as well as chairpersons Avis Richards, Beth Ostrosky Stern and Marcy Warren and the Center's founder Ginnie Frati led the toasts to the much loved and very caring Richards.

The Richards warmly welcomed guests to their home and introduced Ginnie Frati the woman who made the Wildlife Rescue Center of The Hamptons a reality.

As Frati explained it, the creation of the Wildlife Rescue Center of The Hamptons started with a woodchuck. Early in 1991, Frati was on her way home to Sag Harbor from her job as a secretary with the Department of Public Works in Yaphank. She witnessed a woodchuck hit by the car in front of her. The car sped off without concern. The animal was not killed and was writhing in pain on the side of the road. Ginnie pulled over and approached the animal. Her first reaction was that the animal could be helped.

Ginnie called a local veterinarian from a nearby pay phone and was told to contact a wildlife rehabilitator. With a hopeful heart that the woodchuck would soon receive help, she dialed the first of the numbers the vet had given her. She got an answering machine. After leaving a frantic message, Ginnie stared to dial the next number, only with similar results. She left a detailed call for help on the whole list of numbers. No one answered or replied. She waited and waited, then realized that no help was coming. Ginnie went back and sat next to the suffering animal until it died.

Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky Stern with falcon handler at "Get Wild."

Suddenly, Ginnie could see, clearly, the hardships that wildlife must endure. She vowed at that moment to do something to alleviate the suffering of nature's wild creatures. It took her 10 years to keep that vow!

Up close and personal with an owl saved by The Wildlife Rescue Center.

Now thanks to her efforts and the support of literally hundreds of caring individuals and businesses, the Wildlife Rescue Center has a fully functioning hospital with an examination room, dietary preparation area, administrative and recovery areas. On their grounds there are three step-down units for rescued waterfowl, mammals and songbirds with ample room for exercise as they heal.

With her staff and donations, they are able to treat over 1,000 animals a year, half of which are released back into the wild when they are healed, which is always Frati's ultimate goal.

Then Frati introduced the man of the hour - her good friend and faithful supporter - Marty Richards as "This man who gets up early in the morning to feed the wild birds." She then told a story about how she, Marty and his late wife Mary Lea Johnson were leaving the Southampton Movie Theater on Hill Street when Marty spied a bunny that looked injured and chased him all around the grounds of the Village Latch trying unsuccessfully to capture the animal which was clearly not as injured as they thought. But her real point was that "We encroach on their natural habitat so much, it is important that we take responsibility for the wildlife surrounding us."

Honoree Marty Richards with guests.

When Marty stepped up to the veranda, he immediately began to share fond memories of his late wife and longtime producing partner, and their mutual passion for the wildlife around their Gin Lane home. While the pair spent much time on Broadway bringing to the stage such blockbuster musicals as "Sweeney Todd," "Grand Hotel" and "On the Twentieth Century," he wistfully recalled how they both loved to get up at sunrise to watch the various birds that would come for "breakfast" at their many feeders - finches, chickadees, blue jays and cardinals. "We were adopted by a parakeet which showed up one day and told us his name was "Pepino" and our love affair with the wild creatures soared." In the early morning hours, the pair adored "watching the real beauties who don't have to get dressed up - they already look gorgeous".

Beth Ostrosky Stern who recently completely a training program at the Wildlife Rescue Center presented her fellow animal lover with a beautiful crystal award, and urged everyone to pay a visit to the lawn to meet a number of the birds and animals the Center's staff had brought along for the afternoon - owls, hawks and a cuddly opossum whose mother had been hit by a car when pregnant but quick medical help at the Center saved the lives of the seven babies in the mother's pouch. The guests clearly enjoyed seeing the successful results of The Center's efforts to care for those who cannot care for themselves.

Sipping the marvelous new sparkling Methode Champagne Topaz Imperial and Rose from Cynthia and Tom Rosicki's Sparkling Pointe Vineyard on the North Fork and sampling an array of tasty treats from the superb Hamptons caterer Robbins-Wolfe Eventeurs were a host of animal lovers including Howard Stern, Caroline Hirschand Andrew Fox, Jan Cowles and her son Charles Cowles, Jean Shafiroff, Denise Richardson, actor Kevin Conway, Caroline Lieberman, Christopher Arnold, Bob Biderman, Hope Klein, and Paola and Arnie Rosenschein.

Wildlife Rescue Center handlers with their precious patients.


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