Celebrating the lives of Doug Walker and Doug Tompkins

February 1, 2016

Wilderness advocates who inspired the world

By Kris Parfitt


There are many people on this planet who change the world with their actions, inspiring leadership, conservation and making a difference to the future of humanity and nature. The most memorable of these people are the leaders who not only change the world with their own actions, but who also inspire a positive change in our own.

Two examples of these types of leaders are Doug Walker and Doug Tompkins.

There is a very noticeable absence felt from the sudden and unexpected passing of these two champions of wilderness conservation this winter­— one who was local to the Northwest and the other who impacted the world globally.

Both made huge strides toward their causes of wilderness awareness, conservation and education.

Walker’s and Tompkin’s deaths are also an open invitation for the next generation of leaders to take the torch. The best way to honor their lives and efforts is to continue to move their initiatives forward.

We celebrate the accomplishments of these two leaders, acknowledge their efforts and mourn their absence. Amazingly, they both died doing what they loved most: being in the outdoors.

Photo courtesy of King County Sheriff’s Office

Doug Walker (1950 – 2015)

Died on Dec. 31, 2015, in an avalanche debris field on Granite Mountain in the North Cascades in Washington state. Founding member of Social Venture Partners, Seattle Parks Foundation and BOLD and GOLD outdoor expedition programs for youth through the YMCA. Walker was also an accomplished mountaineer and climber.

During his 65 years, Walker was president of the American Alpine Club, past chair of The Wilderness Society, former chairman of the board at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and a previous board member of REI with Interior Secretary Sally Jewel.

Jamie Williams, national president of the Wilderness Society, recently summarized Walker’s impact.

“Doug’s work to advance charitable causes — particularly conservation recreation and access for all to our shared public lands — serves as testament to his commitment to making the world a better place.”

Photo courtesy of Doug Tompkins

Doug Tompkins (1943 – 2015)

Died of acute severe hypothermia when his kayak capsized on General Carrera Lake in Chile, on Dec. 8, 2015.

Founded The North Face and co-founded womens’ clothier Esprit, accomplished mountaineer and climber, aspiring Olympic skier, and frequent collaborator of environmental books.

In his lifetime Tompkins established the Foundation for Deep Ecology, formed the Conservacion Patagonica land trust which helped create Chile’s largest public park and nature sanctuary,

Pumalin Park. He also preserved over two million acres of land in Chile and Argentina with wife, Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, former CEO of Patagonia, Inc. They also converted 480,000 acres into five national parks throughout Chile and Argentina.

“[Tompkin’s] work and the good he did in the world will not end,” said Tom Butler, editorial projects director for Conservacion Patagonica.