“Sunny Point” on Stuart Island | Staff Photo

In 1974, Molly Ciliberti and her husband, Jack, met in a waiting room of a Seattle-area hospital, where she worked as a nurse and he as a doctor. Despite the unromantic setting, they clicked and were married in 1982. The couple went on many sailing trips, often north as far as Southeast Alaska. Their favorite jumping-off point for these journeys was Reid Harbor, on Stuart Island.

Jack and Molly Ciliberti

Jack and Molly Ciliberti

Their fondness for Reid Harbor eventually led them to look for property in the area. On a boat tour with a real estate agent in 1988, they rounded the southeast tip of Stuart Island and the agent said, “There’s a sunny point just ahead that you might like.”

Indeed they did. Jack said, “When I think of the San Juan Islands, this is exactly what comes to mind.” They eventually purchased 7.7 acres, including 1,400 feet of rocky, meadow-rimmed shoreline. It became a beloved family retreat, which they called Sunny Point.

Tragically, Jack was killed in an airplane accident in 2014. A few years later, Molly was diagnosed with a brain tumor, then suffered a debilitating fall. In spite of it all, she retains an amazingly sunny outlook, backed up by a deep love of nature.

“It was always our intention to never let Sunny Point be developed,” she said. Last year, she ensured its permanent protection by donating a conservation easement on the property to the Preservation Trust, in Jack’s memory.

“Preserving this beautiful place gives me such delight and pleasure,” she said. “As a nurse, I saved many peoples’ lives, but this is the best thing I’ve ever done. And I know Jack would be thrilled.”

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