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Celebrating the Lives of Those We Lost

Posted by Loren Drummond at Dec 06, 2021 09:30 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.

The last two years, 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 a few of them have 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. 

Doug Breckel

Leslie Breckel remembers Doug Breckel

Doug was introduced to WTA through Greg and Susan Ball. (Susan and Doug were long time coworkers in the treasury area at the University of Washington.)

He was a member of the WTA board and served as treasurer for several years, until his diagnosis of Alzheimers. He loved serving on the board and spending time with others dedicated to making our state a treasure trove of wonderful places to spend time in nature. It was a worthwhile cause he loved, and he enjoyed the many people he served with.

After retiring from the University of Washington and the WTA board, Doug continued to be involved with the organization. He joined some trail work parties and put his muscles to work.

He enjoyed the physical aspect; it was so different from the work he did as an accountant. He was able to do this with the help of several of his former coworkers who were happy to get out on the trail with him.

Doug Breckel on trail. Photo by Leslie BreckelDoug loved spending time in nature. Photo by Leslie Breckel.


Toby Hastie remembers Dee Hastie

Dee was loved by all. She was a hard worker and enjoyed nature. She wanted to be an inspiration to all trail users, especially wanting the younger generation of women to seek careers in the outdoors.

Dee worked with the U.S. Forest Service in North Bend. Her work in trails and wilderness left a lasting impression on all with whom she had contact both inside and outside of the USFS. Dee was always educating the people with whom she had contact to the importance of trail behavior (don't cut switchbacks, pick up trash, etc.). She did this in a kind and appreciative way without being authoritative in her role with the USFS.

Dee worked with WTA's late Greg Ball and the late Gary Larson in planning trail work to be done both inside and outside of the Alpine Lakes wilderness. Before leaving the USFS, Dee was recognized by WTA at one of their annual meetings for her work and dedication to trails. In Dee's obituary, she asked people to make a memorial gift to WTA and encouraged membership membership in WTA.

Edel Underhill

WTA staff remembers Edel Underhill

Originally from Germany, Edel’s introduction to Mount Rainier was a postcard she received in the 1960s, picturing the Seattle skyline. She assumed the huge mountain in the background couldn’t be real—kitsch, she called it. Soon after, Edel was stunned by the magnificence of a very real Mount Rainier and it quickly became a favorite place for her to explore.

After retiring from Bank of America, Edel signed up for her first Washington Trails Association work party on Cougar Mountain. It didn’t take her long to complete five work parties and earn her own hard hat. She also became a regular at mailing parties in the WTA office. Edel loved meeting new people. Everyone who knew Edel speaks of her kindness and her adventurous spirit.

Edel was devoted to her friends and family and loved exploring the outdoors with them. Tragically, her son, Kevin, died in 2009 from injuries sustained in a bicycling accident. In 2010, Edel made a $20,000 gift to WTA in his memory. Shortly, thereafter she named WTA as a beneficiary of her estate.

In explaining her financial generosity, Edel said that she wanted to help introduce families to hiking so that they can experience the beauty of our wild places. She believed that the young people who volunteer on trail with WTA gain an experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Edel Underhill by Diana Chin - -taken at Long's Pass with her favorite mountain in the background!Edel at Long's Pass with her favorite mountain in the background. Photo by Diana Chin.

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