Monday, April 3, 2017

David McNeil | Nov. 5, 1951–Nov. 1, 2016

David W. F. McNeil passed away unexpectedly Nov. 1. David was born in Boston, Mass. to Susan Young McNeil and Willard Francis McNeil. His formative years were spent in Needham and Boxford, MA. In 1980 he graduated from Lewis and Clark Law School and became a member of the Oregon State Bar in May 1981. David married his sweetheart, Linda Fisk McNeil in 1981. They were happily married 35 years. Twin sons Matthew and Jacob joined them in 1990. David was a devoted and loving husband and father.

David joined the Mazamas in 1978, and made many lifelong friends. He was active in the rock, mountaineering, and ice climbing programs as both a Climb Leader and Advanced Climbing Instructor. David was at one time a member of Portland Mountain Rescue, and was among the searchers in the Oregon Episcopal School tragedy in 1986. He climbed many peaks and rock faces in the Northwest and Yosemite Valley and attempted two peaks in Mexico.

In September 2016 he climbed Chief Joseph Mt. (Joseph, OR) and Sharp Top in Virginia. He also loved bicycling, skiing, running, ice-skating, and inline racing. In 1974 he rode his bicycle 2600 miles (solo) in the Western US. He also cycled from Portland, Oregon to Washington, DC, in 1987, with long time Mazama friend David Schermer. In 1979 he ran in the Portland Marathon. In 2000 David set a goal of running 2000 miles and ran the final leg on December 31.

A Celebration of Life service will be held for David McNeil on Saturday, April 22, 2017, at 2 p.m., at New Hope Community Church, 11731 SE Stevens Rd, Happy Valley, OR 97086.

Paul Herner | June 22, 1936–Feb. 18, 2017

Paul Herner was born in Pomona, California in June of 1936. He attended the US Naval Academy and graduated in 1958. Paul then moved to Oregon and worked for the Forest Service designing roads and campgrounds in the Oregon Cascades. He joined the Mazamas in 1968, became a climb leader, served on Executive Council and was Mazamas President in 1978-79. He continued to climb mountains as long as he was able because, in his words, "as long as us Mazamas are climbing we're not over the hill yet."

Paul retired in 1994 after 27 years at the Bonneville Power Administration. He then traveled the United States in a motorhome, doing volunteer trail building and maintenance in National Parks and Forests as the opportunity arose. In 2015 he was recognized by Portland Public Parks for his years of volunteer gardening at the Peninsula Park Rose Garden.

Paul passed away peacefully on February 18. As a celebration of his life there will be a special free ethnic Scandinavian dance on Monday, April 17 from 8:30–10 p.m. at Nordia House, 8800 SW Oleson Road in Portland.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Betty Parker | 1927–2016

by Barbara J. Marquam

Betty liked to stay active: She climbed her first mountain with the Mazamas in 1948 when she heard a girlfriend asking for a partner and then finished her 16 major Cascade Peaks in about three years, and received the 16 Peaks Award in 1952. She took Basic School in 1950 (the first year the Mazamas had a school) and again around 1979 with David Turville whose mother, a friend, had died. Betty assisted on climbs and became such good friends with climb leader Charlie Jensen and his wife that she drove them to Mazama Annual Banquets after she retired. She worked for the same insurance company all of her life and rose as high as a woman could at that company. Her parents moved from Portland to Tigard in 1937, she started to ride in Cycle Oregon at 60, and rode about 12 years before quitting.

She was devoted to the Old-Log Lodge and was on the Lodge Committee from 1955-57. The membership gave their money for building a new lodge when it burned (1958) rather than to a self-owned clubroom fund. She was also on the Executive Council in 1964, the Central Mountain Rescue in 1953–4, Membership Promotion from 1954–55, Outreach 1961–67, Publicity 1956, and Youth Activities Committee in 1961. She was friends with the Maas’ and would drive down to the Tillamook Burn where Al Maas, a former Mazama climb leader and President, was logging. They would hike together to get in shape for climbing, and one of his buddies proposed marriage to her. She wasn’t ready to settle down, but remained life-long friends with him even though he moved to Canada. Later, she fell for a Mazama, but both remained single.

She also liked to attend Mazama Outings: In fact, one of her funniest stories relates to a Teton Outing. A fellow Mazama wanted badly to climb the Grand Teton, but had ripped his pants—a big deal in those days—and figured he had no chance. She loaned him her pants—she was a tall woman—and thus forfeited her climb. He succeeded, but she never got another chance.

When she turned 80, 150 people showed up at her birthday party. She was amazed, but secretly pleased. She was good friends with the Kellers, knew Grace (Tigard) Houghten (her Girl Scout Leader) and her brother, who was still playing golf and going to the theater in his 90s. She had known the Gerdings and old-timers like Clark Rhoades, Ray Witcher, John Scott, Don Onthank, the Franciscos and the Leutholds. She bragged about bringing Chris Mackert, 5-times Mazama President, into the Mazamas. Also, when she was older, she bought annual tickets to several events that occurred at night, after dark.

I first met Betty after she retired and drove her customized Ford van to a Mazama Hart Mountain Outing where we took out fence. She was generous with her vehicle, and often drove a group of people to trailheads. She had done all of the work on the van herself, and lived in it when she drove cross-country. She loved young people and at one time had four college students visiting her at her home. Her nephew, who came out West to go to school, proposed to his current wife under her Christmas tree. As an archives' volunteer, I met her again, and did an oral history interview on her. Also, when she was no longer driving in the dark, my husband (Tom Dinsmore) and I would take her to the Broadway Rose Theater. We will miss her ready laugh and hearty hand-shake.

Gilbert "Gil" Staender | 1930–2016

by Doug Couch
In 1940 when Gilbert “Gil” Staender was nine years old, his uncle pulled him out of an orphanage in wartime Germany and put him on a ship for New York where he reunited with his father. Five years later, in 1945 his family was living in Portland and Gil joined the Mazamas. He remained a member for 71 years until his death on August 27, 2016.

A climb leader with the Mazamas, Gil summited Mt. Hood over fifty times as well as climbing throughout the Northwest. In the 1950s he and his wife Vivian pioneered rock climbing at Smith Rock, traveling there from their home in Lake Oswego. Many of their first ascents at Smith Rock are commemorated in the ridge named for them.

In the 1960s they traveled to the Brooks Range in Alaska above the Arctic Circle four times, staying for weeks each trip. Their purpose was more than just getting away from it all. They collected and cataloged plants and animals to be analyzed for the residue of pesticides that had permeated the atmosphere even in that remote region. The Mazamas helped support their research with grants and were rewarded with a series of evening programs featuring Gil’s photography.

In 1969 Gil and Vivian embarked on perhaps their greatest adventure. After much research they sold their house in Lake Oswego and returned to the Brooks Range to spend an entire year in a log cabin they would build there. The twelve by fourteen foot cabin was stout enough and tight enough to get them through a winter with temperatures dropping to 50 below zero. At the end of their year in the north they loaded up a rubber raft they had brought with them for just that purpose and floated downriver for eleven days to the nearest native village where they could catch a plane back to civilization.

Encroaching urbanization had been one spur behind their year in the wilderness. Before leaving they had sold their home, stored their belongings with Mazamas Nick and Kay Dodge, and purchased 160 acres north of Sisters. Upon returning they spent three years living on their property in a tent while constructing a stone house far off the electric and phone grid. From the beginning their intent was to deed that house and land, Wildhaven, to the Nature Conservancy.

Eventually Gil moved back to Portland and took a job at REI, first at the Jantzen Beach store and then at Tualatin. His career teaching in Portland and Sisters showed through as much as his unique expertise with anything related to climbing or camping. Following that period Gil returned to Central Oregon, living near Camp Sherman until moving to Hospice.

Gil was a genuine pioneer and adventurer, a wonderful storyteller, and warm host. He will be deeply missed.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Melvin James Taylor | June 12, 1931–March 18, 2016

Mel was born in Salem to James M. Taylor and Alice Harris.  He graduated from Salem High School in 1950, and worked briefly as an apprentice machinist before joining the Air Force where he trained as a Jet Mechanic.  Staff Sergeant Melvin James Taylor was granted an honorable discharge December, 1954.  He married Theresa Cross March, 17, 1956.

Mel graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.  He joined the Civilian Corps of Engineers where he worked on several hydroelectric dam projects throughout the Pacific Northwest, and became their resident corrosion expert.  In 1969 he accepted an offer to transfer to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands in 1969 where he worked for two years on a 128 stage coal-fired water desalination plant on Roi-Namur.

Mel was a natural explorer and hiker and enjoyed the outdoors from an early age.  His cousin fondly recalls a spontaneous road trip in his red Ford convertible down hwy 101 into Mexico and out to Arizona before returning to Salem.  Later on, he spent a month in Mexico with fellow explorer Nicholas A. Dodge who then recounted the story of their journey in his book "Mexico Frontiers."

Mel was a member of Mazamas for over 50 years, having joined in 1962.  He was a member of the Research Committee in 1965 and 1966, and assisted on a climb up Mt. St. Helen in 1963.

He was also a long time member of the Trails Club of Oregon as well as Lake Oswego Hikers, the Old Boys Club, the Lake Oswego United Methodist Church.  He volunteered for, and supported, numerous outdoor and environmental organizations.

He is survived by his three children, Ken (Debe), Marcia, and David, brother Marvin (Deanna), grandchildren Kaytee, James (Amanda), four great-grandchildren and good friend, Meredith.  He was a wonderful, caring and thoughtful person who is fiercely missed by all who knew him.

There will be a celebration of Mel's life at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 25 at the Lake Oswego United Methodist Church, 1855 South Shore Blvd, Lake Oswego.

Monday, May 2, 2016

John McGilvra | Sept. 14, 1952–April 21, 2016

John McGilvra joined the Mazamas in 2000 and took the Basic Climbing Education Program in 2001. You could frequently find John leading new hikers up Silver Star Mountain in Washington as it was one of his favorite hikes (he had at least 55 Silver Star summits!).  In one year, he even summitted Mt. St. Helens 50+ to celebrate his age. In addition to Silver Star and Mt. St. Helens, he had 60+ trips up Mt. Defiance, 50+ summits of Mount St. Helens, 13 summits of Mt. Hood, and many others.

John was a high pointer—working to summit the highest peaks in all 50 states—and had come within 4 or 5 summits of completion (he was missing Alaska, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, and Hawaii). When Mazama member Barbara Bond was researching her “75 Scrambles in Oregon” guide, John accompanied her on at least 20 peaks. 

There will be a Memorial Service for John on Tuesday, May 3 at noon at Willamette National Cemetery (11800 SE Mt. Scott Blvd, Portland). Please plan to arrive 15–20 minutes prior to the start of the service, check in at the administration office, and they will direct you to the appropriate shelter. A reception will follow in St. Helens at Sunset Park Community Church (approx. time 2:30–4:30 p.m.).

If you have remembrance of John, please share them with us at We will add your remembrances to our obituary for John.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Barbara Zimmerman Podesta | 1915–2015

Barbara Zimmerman Podesta

February, 1915–December, 2015

by Barbara Meyer 
Always up for an adventure, my mother headed west with a fellow nursing school graduate, driving an automobile to a Portland dealership in the late-1930s.  Two cousins had sent glowing reports of the mountains and Mom couldn’t resist.  She found the Mazamas in 1940, met my father there (Adolph “Zim” Zimmerman) and began a life of hiking, skiing, camping and backpacking.  I have an August 11, 1940 photo of Mom and two other women on the summit of Mt. Hood with the lookout in the background. Her Summit Certificate indicates the leaders were J. Ed Nelson and Eldon Metzger.  My parents served on the Lodge Committee of the old log lodge in Government Camp.  Activities at the lodge and the Annual Outings became a way of life for several years.  More recently she set her skills to work on the braided rug visible in the Winter 2015 Mazama Lodge postcard.

After my father passed away, Mom moved back to Michigan, her birth state, to care for her aging parents.  Shortly after she returned to Washington, she met and married Joe Podesta, moving to his 60 acre farm.  Originally a dairy, by then he was raising beef cattle.  Having spent many of her childhood years on acreages, Mom readily took to farm life and driving the tractor while Joe loaded hay bales onto the wagon to store in the massive hay loft of the dairy barn.  Joe tended a huge garden every year and this is where I first tasted pesto prepared with fresh garlic and basil and served with pasta and green beans.  It was the best pesto I’ve ever eaten!  The family marble mortar and wooden pestle are now prized possessions.  Unfortunately, Joe’s pesto making skill was lost when he died in 1993 and I cannot replicate it.  In October, 2015, the Podesta Farm was awarded Heritage status by the State of Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.  During their years together, Mom and Joe enjoyed traveling to Mexico, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, and Europe.

Mom and I continued adventuring in my VW camper and later enjoyed the luxury of motels.  When Peter and I married, we included her in a vacation each year, generally staying in Washington and Oregon.  The coast, mountains and Columbia River Gorge were the big draws.  Mom was an avid reader, participating in a book group as well as a writing group.  She also loved music and attending concerts.  She had an inquisitive mind and if she read or heard about an event or place, she was ready to go check it out!

The final adventure began late in 2015 when cancer of the peritoneum was diagnosed.  With the help of Hospice, Peter and I cared for Mom in her home until the end just 11 weeks before her 101st birthday.  What a long and full life!  Thank you, Mom, for bringing me up in the Mazama family and setting the stage for my own many adventures!

Barbara Zimmerman Meyer, daughter and Mazama since 1959