It was a trail Doug Walker had hiked hundreds of times before by all accounts. Friends had no reason to worry when he decided to continue his hike as strong winds deterred them. However, when the 64-year-old Seattle philanthropist did not return after a few hours, his companions began to fear the worst.
— CNN (@CNN) January 2, 2016
According to the Seattle Times, Walker was found dead on Friday morning following a “hiking accident.” A resident of the Highlands in Shoreline, Washington, Doug was a well-known lover of the outdoors, and by all accounts an experienced hiker.
Unfortunately, it’s believed Walker was caught up in a tragic series of circumstances that caught him off guard. The Associated Press writes that Walker and his companions were traveling up “a trailhead near Granite Mountain, 45 miles east of Seattle” on Thursday. Suddenly, winds intensified. Although the others turned back, Doug decided to press on.
Two hours passed, and there was no sign of Walker, leading the group to contact the King County Sheriff’s Office. Upwards of 60 members of the King County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit and other organizations searched for Doug Walker throughout the night, but were unsuccessful in their attempts to locate him. A search by air wasn’t possible at the time due to the heavy winds.
When winds were no longer a factor on Friday morning, local authorities launched a search by air. That’s when the body of Walker was discovered. Sheriff’s Sgt. Cindi West told KOMO News that King County officials believe that Washington philanthropist perished in an avalanche.
“[Walker] was found in… a debris field, which would be consistent with an avalanche having occurred, so that’s one possible scenario of what happened.”
West referred to the incident as a tragic accident.
— Steve McCarron KOMO (@SteveTVNews) January 2, 2016
One of the earliest confirmations of Walker’s death came from the American Alpine Club, for which he served as president.
“We are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of AAC President Doug Walker. Doug was killed in an avalanche on Granite Mountain yesterday.
“[Doug] had a serious commitment to conservation of mountain landscapes and promotion of the climbing way of life. He served on many environmental nonprofits including Wilderness Society, Sierra Club Foundation, Conservation Lands Foundation, and was also a former chairman of REI.”
Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, and Senator Patty Murray each reacted to the loss with statements of remembrance. The Associated Press quoted Murray as saying the Seattle, Washington, community had “lost one of its most passionate and inspirational civic leaders in business, philanthropy, and conservation.”
Indeed, Doug Walker’s love of the outdoors was only matched by his desire to make these activities as accessible to as many people as possible. Jewell claimed that Doug Walker met with White House senior staff just two weeks before his death to “discuss private philanthropic support for government programs to boost access for kids to the outdoors.” Walker had already helped to launch and fund outdoor summer programs for children from urban areas.
— Cory Minderhout (@CoryMinderhout) January 1, 2016
According to CNN, Dough relocated to the state of Washington from South Carolina to complete graduate school. He would go on to be one of the founding partners behind software company Walker, Richer & Quinn, which launched in 1981. The Seattle Times wrote that he was also a founding member of “the innovative philanthropy Social Venture Partners.”
Walker is described as a man who made numerous philanthropic contributions to benefit both his community and the environment. County Executive Dow Constantine said that Walker was “a leading civic and conservation activist who helped usher in a new era of charitable giving and commitment to access to outdoor recreation.”
The Seattle Times writes that Walker is survived by “his wife, Maggie, and daughter Kina.”
[Image via King County Sheriff’s Office]