Alexandra Sargent-Colburn Passes Away

The Massachusetts resident, long-time member of the ferret community and columnist for Ferrets magazine died on October 5.

Alexandra Sargent-Colburn and her ferrets
Courtesy of Dann Colburn 
Alexandra graciously sent a photo in 2011 posed with her two ferrets at the time, Caff-Pow and Todd, for her author bio.

Earlier this week, a family, the ferret community and the world in general lost a dear person. Alexandra Sargent-Colburn passed away unexpectedly on October 5, 2015. She was 50 years old. She is survived by her husband, Dann Colburn, parents, brother, sister, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins. People are invited to visit with the family at the Miles-Sterling Funeral and Tribute Center in Sterling, Massachusetts, on October 15 from 5 to 8 p.m. A service celebrating her life will take place at 11 a.m. on October 16 at the First Congregational Church of Princeton. Further details are listed in the online obituary. The online guestbook allows visitors to write condolences, add a photo or light a virtual candle.

In lieu of flowers, those who wish can make a memorial contribution in Alexandra’s name to Operation Smile, which helps children with a cleft lip or palate. The website for Operation Smile has details about how to make a memorial donation.

The loss of Alexandra seemed to send a shock wave across the Internet. As people learned the news, they posted condolences on her or her husband’s Facebook pages, a private Facebook group emerged in her honor, posts have been sent to an online ferret mailing list and messages added to the obituaries’ online guestbook, and more. People want to do something to show their support, to help the family or to try to come to terms with the loss. 

It is difficult to hear that someone has passed, and more difficult when you know them. I had the privilege of working with Alexandra on Ferrets magazine. I first learned of her via the Ferret Mailing List. This moderated mailing list had a thriving community of thousands of ferret owners and enthusiasts. I joined the FML in 2002, and as I read through it, the posts by “Alexandra in Massachusetts” were among those that stood out. Her sharp wit, keen intelligence and whimsical sense of humor were a winning combination in her posts, which alternately offered advice, comments and amazing stories (the escapades of ferrets, a hedgehog and flying John Deere tractor come to mind). Happily, these are all immortalized and available to all in the Ferret Mailing List archive

I contacted her about possibly writing a column for the magazine, and she agreed. Her first column debuted in the January/February 2003 issue, and the lucky readers and I got a new installment every other month for several years. The column names and focus changed as time passed, but Alexandra made them all great. Big topic or small, she found a way to craft each column into a slice of humor that would make a reader smile. Her love of ferrets, her dog and other pets was evident. You can read more about her life at her author bio.

Having donations sent to Operation Smile instead of having flowers at the service is, I think, so appropriate for someone whose writings brought so many smiles to so many people through the years. Of course, Alexandra in person was also winning. I got the chance to meet her at the International Ferret Congress’ 2006 Derby City Forum in Louisville, Kentucky. She was a speaker there and the attendees also got to tour the black-footed ferret facility at the Louisville Zoo. Thinking about that and her writings brings a smile to my face. I hope those of you who knew Alexandra can all find a memory to make you smile. I invite anyone with happy memories or comments about Alexandra to post below. 

Alexandra Sargent-Colburn giving a ferret talk
Marylou Zarbock/I-5 Publishing
Alexandra was one of several speakers at the Derby City Forum in Louisville in 2006.

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