Best Friends Blog

A founder’s farewell

Estelle Munro, Best Friends co-founderSadly, yesterday Best Friends said good-bye to one of its founders, Estelle Munro.

I don’t believe, when we all started this sanctuary together, that she or any of us imagined it would turn into what it has. That a few friends helping a few animals would lead to a nationwide movement to Save Them All.

And I don’t believe any of us imagined the day we would have to say “good-bye” to Estelle.

I’m so glad she got to see what this dream grew into — what all of our hard work together became — before she passed away as a result of respiratory issues.

Estelle had polio as a child, and so, she used crutches all of her life. In the early days, ‘fundraising’ to us meant standing outside in all weather, behind tables, asking people who passed by to give to the animals. Despite her crutches, Estelle could stand there for as many hours as she needed to, approaching people with that deep sort of joy that some people have in their core. She was never worried about her own physical limitations — just the animals.

If you can believe it, on one occasion, a man actually attempted to steal the money Estelle had collected for the animals. He tried to take cash out of her collection jar! Because Estelle couldn’t easily stand, she grasped hold of a pole to steady herself, and grabbed the man’s collar with the other hand, scolding him until he dropped it. No one who saw it will ever forget that day! It became something of a legend.

If there was anything anyone thought Estelle couldn’t do because of her condition, it was never long before she cheerfully and gently proved them wrong.

But polio had affected her breathing, too. And so despite having helped us create Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, she had to leave it. The high elevation of the canyon was hard on her lungs. But being Estelle, she was perfectly cheerful about it. She announced that she and her husband would move to Hawaii, and asked what she could do to help us all from there!

She took on the job of responding to some of the 20,000 or so emails that Best Friends receives every year — something she could easily do from afar. You may have heard from Estelle a few times if you’ve ever written us! Always graceful, and always more interested in listening to others than in talking about herself, she was a star at that task.

And I’m delighted to say that she really was very happy in Hawaii.

But we received the bad news this morning

I like to think the sun shone brightly as she passed away. Because Estelle was one who fought darkness and who believed that the light would always break through. She would want the day to go on. She would want us to continue the work she helped start. She wanted to see every person and every animal — happy. As she was. Despite anything.

We’ll miss you, Estelle, with all of our hearts.

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Gregory Castle
Best Friends Animal Society

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  • Ann Brandt

    So glad you had her help while you did. May she rest in piece.

  • M Smith

    Estelle was a genuine treasure, as are all of the founders of Best Friends, and my heart goes out to all of you at this time. She had an exceptional warmth and softness. Blessings to all as her spirit soars with all of the wonderful creatures she loved. Estelle, you made a difference!

  • Ja Moon

    I have fond memories of Estelle from when I worked at Best Friends 16 years ago! RIP. I will always remember your smiling and happy self.

  • Carrie Knight

    RIP……but I know ur work will continue in Heaven as you welcome each new soul….those with feet and those with paws….Goodbye for now friend

  • Laura Windsor

    Do you realize the hundreds of furry and feathered children all lined up to greet her. It brings tears to my eyes. The barking, chirping, donkeys singing their song, tails wagging, oinking. Oh, Estelle, what a party is happening right now. I will love you for all you did, have tried to do and planned to accomplish. I wish I was half the person!

  • horsewoman54

    People like her are few and far between. Rainbow Bridge is probably under stress from those coming to greet her.

  • This beautiful tribute brought tears to my eyes. Gentle journey to the Rainbow Bridge lovely Estelle, and thank you for being a Warrior for the animals. Please give Sugar, Chai and Misty a cheek rub from their Mama J.

  • Debby Widolf

    Thank you Gregory for the lovely tribute you wrote for Estelle. Even though I knew her only through my trips to Hawaii, I quickly felt that she was a beloved friend. How could one not love her inner and outer shine and aloha. Until we meet again Estelle, Aloha ‘Oe, “farewell thee”. Debby Widolf

  • Leslie wine

    always in yours and all her fans memories she will never ever be forgotten. Rip Estelle


    What a true inspiration. Thank you for sharing her story and I can’t wait to make my own journey there this Fall.

  • Carole Giacomazzo

    What a beautiful story about such a caring, wonderful friend of God’s critters. I’m sure she has been greeted by many of those who have been waiting at the Rainbow Bridge for her, celebrating her arrival in heaven! Thank you, Estelle for all you have done to better the lives of so many, peace be with you!

  • Jane Besmehn

    Gregory, what a beautiful tribute to an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing that. i was privileged to know her in the early days, and she did make a lasting impression! She will be missed!

  • Laura Smith

    Best Friends is who gave me the idea as a child of my own rescue. Today they are who inspire me to keep going….thank you Estelle for you influence. Peace be with you “friend” and a special high 5 to the rest of your gang!

  • Bonnie Ward

    Let’s start a memorial fund for Estelle–she most assuidly deserves it!

  • Philafiily

    What a wonderful legacy she left, and thank you carrying on her dream. I’m sure there was quite the celebration when she reached “The Bridge”. Mahalo for the gift of your love and compassion, Estelle. There is truly another star in the heavens tonight….

  • Jerry Montgomery

    I’m so sorry for Best Friends’ loss. There is so much work to do, and it’s been such a long road. I’m glad such a person as Estelle was there along the way, for the animals’ and everyone’s sakes.