Kate McCarthy 1917-2015

On Tuesday, November 3, 2015, Mt. Hood lost one of its greatest advocates. Kate McCarthy passed on after a lifetime of speaking up for the mountain and forests she loved. She was 98.

At a 2005 public meeting on the addition of wilderness in Oregon, Kate waited in a long line of people to speak. As she approached the mic, Representative Blumenauer, who was presiding over the meeting paused the proceedings and said, “Before we hear from the next speaker, I want to be sure everyone in the room knows who she is.” He went on to explain that nobody could be given more credit for the lack of a mega-development and destination resort on Mt. Hood than Kate McCarthy. Kate, in her non-nonsense way, politely thanked him and then carried on, berating the Oregon delegation for not doing enough to protect wild places on Mt. Hood.

There are hundreds of stories like this about Kate. You didn’t have to work on Mt. Hood for long the past half century without eventually witnessing her patient, but persistent style of effectively putting a wrench in anyone’s proposal to degrade the meadows and forests she’d spend her entire life walking through. Kate was a founder of Friends of Mt. Hood, as well as instrumental in starting the Hood River Valley Residents Committee. There is a hole in our greater Mt. Hood community with her gone.

In 2009, Bark and the Crag Law Center contracted an historian to archive Kate’s work and document her life story. Those archives are kept in the library at her alma mater, Reed College. Kate was well-known for her photography and use of images that accompanied many of the stories she told of growing up on the foothills of Mt. Hood and witnessing the man-made destruction of the places she knew so well. Her slideshow could break your heart, spanning nearly a century of changes to the mountain and the forests.

You can read more about Kate’s life here.

You can hear Kate talking about her life in this radio piece from OPB from 2009.

A memorial service will be held for Kate at 2pm on December 13, 2015 at the Hood River Inn, Hood River, Oregon.