Remembering John Rensenbrink

The CREA community mourns the loss of our co-founder John Rensenbrink, who died in July of 2022 at the age of 93. John was a visionary and played an essential role in CREA’s creation and evolution.

In his own words, written in 2005, “Five years ago, we had an idea. We didn’t quite know exactly how to translate the idea into reality, but we did know that we wanted to make maximum use of the 230 acres along the wildest portion of the Cathance River in Topsham for environmental education purposes. Also, to help nurture an appreciation for and knowledge of this pristine area now known as the Cathance River Nature Preserve.”

John served as CREA’s first President and continued on its Board for many years, most recently serving on its Advisory Council. His interest and enthusiasm never waned – he remained a regular attendee at CREA programs. All that CREA does today is part of his legacy. His vision of using the Preserve to nurture appreciation for the natural world is realized in the shrieks of delight of our summer campers immersed in outdoor discovery, the “Wows!” and “Look at this!” of schoolchildren learning at the Preserve, the local elementary students experiencing robust science curricula, the engagement of people introduced to startling natural wonders on guided walks, and so much more.

John’s energy and accomplishments stretched far and wide – we encourage you to read about the fullness of his life in this obituary and in this article about John in the Portland Press Herald.

We are deeply saddened by this loss but so grateful for the time, energy, wisdom, and vision that John devoted to making CREA a reality, to the benefit of the many thousands who have passed through our special corner of the world – learning, renewing, and appreciating. We express heartfelt condolences to his family for this tremendous loss.

We invite visitors to the Preserve and Ecology Center to celebrate John’s vision and leadership as they walk to the Preserve and Ecology Center via Rensenbrink Way, named in 2019 as John turned 90.