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Celebrating the Lives of Those We Lost

Posted by Loren D at Nov 26, 2019 09:21 AM |

We take a moment to reflect on the lives of some of those who we've recently lost. They are missed, but we will remember and celebrate their lives and contributions to our community for years to come.

This year, like many of you, we lost some friends in our community. They were explorers and adventurers. They were stewards of the land and volunteers in their communities. Before the end of the year, we wanted to take a moment to remember the incredible mark they've made on all of us in the WTA community. So, we asked some of those closest to them to share a few memories about their vibrant lives, and the role that the outdoors played in the time they shared with us. They are deeply missed, but together, we remember and celebrate their lives and contributions to this community. 

Amelia Bethke

Arlen Bogaards, WTA's Northwest regional manager, remembers Amelia Bethke

I only knew Amelia Evins Bethke a short time, having been her supervisor for about a year and working with her on and off in her role at Whatcom County Parks. To our great fortune, Amelia Bethke worked as WTA's Northwest regional crew leader in 2018-2019. I can speak to the experiences I had, witnessing the selfless acts of kindness in all she did and the respect she showed any and all. Her determination and grit was unstoppable — as proven by her many accomplishments in the running world. She ran the Grand Canyon rim to rim twice in one day and won her share of local races, of which she rarely mentioned.

Quick with a smile, measured in voice and fearless in nature, Amelia never backed down from a challenge, instead studying ways to do things safely and efficiently, from falling a big tree to leading a challenging trail project with volunteers, some nearly three times her age. Her impact on the volunteer community during her time with Washington Trails Association is impossible to measure, but extensively evident — as was her impact on the trailbuilding community. Here’s to your spirit Amelia, there are many who carry a little of that with them now and forever.

Amelia Bethke memorial

Ann Nelson

David Kaplan remembers Ann Nelson

Ann was almost always happy while hiking, always attentive to beautiful flowers and could name almost all of them, and she never complained (even when new boots wore her feet bloody).

One memory I have of Ann outdoors was in June 1980. We were backpacking in Yosemite; it was a late snow year and there was 6 feet of snow in Tuolomne meadows, despite warm sunny weather. We arrived at Cathedral Creek at 4 p.m., which was a torrent and too dangerous to cross, so we camped there and crossed at 6 a.m. We stripped and carried our packs on our heads, with freezing water up to our waists. On the far side we built a bonfire and danced around it naked until the rising sun turned the forest golden and we had warmed up.

Ann loved WTA, wrote up trip reports after almost every outing, and came to every hike extremely well informed about all the hikes in the area and the people who had reported on them.

Obituaries for Ann appeared in the New York Times and the Seattle Times.

Ann Nelson

Beth Cordova

Marc Cordova remembers Beth Cordova

The mountains were Beth's temple, where she cherished the fresh air and beauty.

Beth's ultimate ecstasy was hiking to the top of a mountain or trail and celebrating with a chocolate cookie.

She volunteered for work parties when our sons were young, and she was a lifetime member of WTA. She instilled in our sons a love of nature and working to repair the earth.

Beth Cordova

Christina Wright

Greg Wright remembers Christina Wright

Christina was so happy on the trails, she loved the beauty of wildflowers, views of mountains, wildlife and the challenge of a strenuous hike. She could never get enough and wanted to keep going all the time. She was really looking forward to more hiking time when she retired.

Every hike we went on was researched by Christina; she would sometimes spend an hour or two looking at her hiking books and checking out trip reports on the WTA site in order to find the perfect hike for the weekend. She put 100% into everything she did! We had one ritual after every hike, and that was to have a nice cold beer. Whether we were in Snoqualmie Pass area, Leavenworth or up near Mount Baker she even planned where the best place was to get that cold beer and cheers to another great day on the trails.

Christina was involved in volunteer work since she was young. She was a big sister in her late 20s and early 30s, she helped at the Seattle International School for the last several years and when she found WTA it was a perfect fit. She brought up the idea of doing a work party as a group a few years ago. She researched, planned and recruited our friends Michael and Gunnar. All four of us did our first work party together over near Winthrop, she was hooked. She got her Green Hat last fall a little over a month before she passed away. She was so proud to get her helmet and loved working with the crews and other volunteers of the WTA community!

Christina grew up as an Island girl in Asia, where she loved the beach and ocean, but when she moved to the Pacific Northwest, the mountains captured her heart. She was so happy to find the WTA community of like-minded people that she could enjoy the outdoors with. A good hard days work, or hard hike was her idea of fun. Her love of hiking rubbed off on the kids as well, both now enjoy hiking and camping. One of them even worked for WTA this past summer helping to lead work party crews.

Christina Wright

David Buck

Kimberlee Buck remembers David Buck

On trails, David was happy and relaxed! Getting away from the stress of work and getting out on the trail truly made him happy and relaxed!

Not that long ago, we went to Yosemite for a few days, and one of the trails we did was the Mono Pass Trail. It was just so beautiful along the trail. When we got to the lake we had a relaxing lunch and took many photographs. We were headed back down the trail when we saw storm clouds coming. The storm came fast and furious. Thunder and lightning all around us! We hiked down the trail very fast! (One woman even went running down the trail screaming.) By the time we got back to the car we were soaked. Everyone sat in their cars because you could hardly see and it would have been too dangerous. Great hike and crazy storm! We had no idea it would be our last hike as he passed away not long after this trip.

Dave realized how important WTA was to the outdoor community. He always supported it and had money deducted from each paycheck to support WTA. He read the magazine and kept every copy for trail info. He was looking forward to retiring and joining trail parties to give back.

David Buck

Jim Knoke

Levi Knoke remembers Jim Knoke

Shortly after Jim retired, he was hiking with his wife, Loretta, when they came across a crew from WTA. After talking to the crew and finding a WTA magazine at the trailhead, he decided to volunteer. For the next 15 years, he was able to give back.  

Jim was extremely dedicated and hard working. He was always excited to get started, hiking with the group to wherever the work was needed. Rain or shine, whether cleaning up some overgrowth or moving a giant boulder in the middle of the water, he was ready to get going and got his hands (and the rest of him) dirty.

Jim was friends with everyone. He was always interested in what was going on in everyone’s lives. Jim worked with the Thursday crew and every Thursday mornings for 15 years he enjoyed getting breakfast with the other members and catching up.

 Jim Knoke memorial

John (Jack) Frazier

Theresa Turner remembers Jack Frazier

On trail, Jack enjoyed himself. He loved nature and adventure.

In looking at photos to share, I found pictures of Jack from a Boy Scout camping trip at Ipsut Creek with Troop 407, from near Crater Lake and in the Hoh Rainforest, and older camping photos from Pennsylvania. Most pictures of the outdoors he took in his later years were nature shots; he never took pictures of himself. He loved camping, and he was a strong supporter of WTA. 

When Jack was diagnosed with glioblastoma in August 2018 and was told that he had a terminal illness, he wondered what would his legacy be. He wanted to leave the world a better place. He loved Washington Trails Association and had hoped to volunteer on the trails in his retirement. He decided that he wanted to make an impact by supporting the work of Washington Trails Association. He would have been very proud of the many donations given in his name to support the programs of the WTA by his friends and family. 

John Frazier

Theodore Katsanis

Kimberly Katsanis Ammeter remembers Ted Katsanis

Ted enjoyed hiking into his 90s. He went on strenuous hikes (5 or more miles with 2,000 ft elevation) well into his late 80s. He led a group of hikers every Tuesday for many years. The only Tuesday I remember him missing was when one of his granddaughters got married on a Tuesday. Ted was an engineer, so he approached hiking very methodically: never in a hurry, but he did not dawdle either. As children, we were just expected to keep up!

Ted would prepare jokes for his weekly hikes. For his birthday hike he would also entertain his fellow hikers with magic tricks and tell jokes. For example: What do you get when you drop a grenade in a French kitchen? Answer: Linoleum Blownapart

Ted used the the Hiking Guide to help find a good hike for the weekly Tuesday hikes. He would do his research and then send out an email on Thursdays so everyone would have time to prepare for the next week's hike. 

Ted hiked to keep in shape for skiing. He skied at 90! Keeping in shape to ski was so important to him and he loved the outdoors. He especially enjoyed mountain wildflowers and birds. Ted passed the love of hiking on to his children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. 

Theodore Katsanis.

Tom Winn

Mary Wohleb remembers Tom Winn

On trail, Tom was the one with the heaviest pack, well stocked for any condition that he might encounter. When hiking, he stepped lightly as though that would help maintain its condition longer. Tom was always up for exploring the backcounty, climbing the highest peak. He was happiest on the top of a mountain checking out the views.

There are so many wonderful outdoor stories about Tom. He enjoyed hiking the more remote areas of the North Cascades and on the warmer days, with as little clothing as possible. When I first hooked up with Tom, his college buddies asked me if I've experienced any "Tom Winn shortcuts"? With a chuckle they would say, they were always "longcuts".

Tom would drive North Cascade Highway 20, head half out the window pointing to some snowy peak, "Don't you just want to climb up there right now?" One of my first "dates" with Tom was a 50-mile hike in the Pasaytan Wilderness. I think I passed the test. During our 21 years we enjoyed many hiking miles and WTA work parties together.

When Tom was newly single, he was hiking one of his many favorite trails when he came upon a WTA work party. That's how he connected with WTA. For almost 22 years he did trail work, was an assistant crew leader and enjoyed learning the technical aspects of trail maintenance (particularly how to use a crosscut saw). 

Tom was born in Guatamala, and went to school in Japan. He hiked the Takido road and climbed Mount Fuji. In college in Seattle he learned how to fly seaplanes. Tom was an adventurer; he lived life to the fullest. He choose his final resting place on a hill looking at Three Fingers. Little did either of us know that he would arrive there too soon. Tom left a legacy of giving to the La Conner community as a teacher and a Parks commissioner.

He is greatly missed.

Tom Winn Memorial

Did a hiker you love pass away this year? Please feel free to leave a memory in the comments below.