Eagle released in memory of local philanthropist

GREEN BAY, Wis (WBAY) A beautiful sight Wednesday morning along the Bay of Green Bay as a bald eagle, recovered from lead poisoning, is released back into the wild.

On average, the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary cares for, and releases, about a dozen eagles each year.

Today's though, had special significance.

The eagle soared in honor of one of the sanctuary's greatest supporters, and an emotional John Kress felt it was a fitting tribute to his mom

"See an eagle recover like that and set free back into the wild, something she would have really, really loved," says Kress, president of the George Kress Foundation.

For decades, Irene "Billie" Kress served as one of the most generous supporters of the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary.

"Starting with our original Nature Center, our waterfalls with the Kress Overlook and now our 4k nature-based, 4-year old kindergarten and building addition, they are just an incredible family, without those donations we wouldn't have the opportunities for people that we do to come and enjoy nature and learn about their environment," says Mike Reed, Wildlife Sanctuary Director.

"A lot of causes she supported and this was certainly one of her favorites," adds Kress.

Billie Kress passed away in June 2016 at the age of 86, and her legacy lives on at the Wildlife Sanctuary.

In honor of her memory, her son had the honor of releasing an eagle into the skies above Bay Beach.

"Our spirits and Billie's spirit just soared away with that eagle, it was such a beautiful release," says Reed.

"Sunny day, I know she's up there smiling somewhere," adds Kress.

Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary continues to operate as one of the most unique urban wildlife refuges in the country, welcoming more than 400,000 visitors each year.