December 2015

Kate McCarthy 1917-2015

We are sad to advise you that Kate McCarthy, our founder and life-long protector of Mount Hood, passed away on November 3, 2015. Many of you attended Kate’s slide show presentations and saw the “before and after” photos she made to document the changes that were occurring on the mountain.

Barbara Wilson is a FOMH board member who worked closely with Kate for many years. In this tribute to Kate, Barbara shares some of her memories.

Memories of Kate

Kate and I hiked the mountain trails many times. She was a natural athlete. I would follow her, close to her heels, and even in her 90’s she could navigate gracefully over fallen trees and never lose her balance. It was a struggle to keep up with her.

She remembered when the Meadows main parking lot was once a large wildflower meadow, where six mountain streams converged. She remembered all too well that the Forest Service once promised minimal development and then forgot the promise.

Kate understood the value of wetlands, and with FOMH she fought valiantly for many years to restore and protect the wetlands of the ski permit area. It was due to Kate’s perseverance and a successful lawsuit that the wetlands are now on a path for future healing.
She successfully beat back the proposal to build condominiums in Stringer Meadows, and she caused Meadows to reconsider proposals for a restaurant where mountain meadows still exist. She was an original member of Cooper Spur Wild and Free coalition which was organized to beat back the proposal for an all-season resort and condominiums on the north side of the mountain. She was tireless and dedicated. Her mantra was “There is no right way to do the wrong thing.”
Kate was steadfast in her love of the mountain; never wavering in her dedication to protect Mount Hood for future generations.

She was a remarkable person. We will miss her greatly.


In Memory of Kate McCarthy
(Published in The Oregonian, November 22, 2015)

Kate (Rogers) McCarthy was born June 17, 1917, in Portland, to Homer and Elizabeth Smith Rogers. She died Nov. 3, 2015, at home in Parkdale.

In 1909, Kate’s father bought land four miles south of Parkdale in the Hood River Valley and built Mt. Hood Lodge. Kate spent her summers on the property and winters attending Miss Catlin’s School for Girls (Catlin Gabel). Kate graduated from Reed College and attended Yale Nursing School and the University of Oregon Medical School where she earned a master’s in microbiology. She married Gerald “Jerry” S. McCarthy May 2, 1942, in Portland. She and Jerry raised four sons in Seattle and Roseburg, before returning to Parkdale in 1968.

As Kate grew up, she hiked and rode horses on Mt. Hood and in the gorge. It sparked a passion to protect our natural places. She also believed in preserving farmland and worked to implement Oregon’s historic land use legislation, SB 100, in Hood River County where she was a founding member of Hood River Valley Residents Committee. Kate leant her energy to other groups including the Oregon Natural Resources Council (now Oregon Wild), the Board of the Oregon Environmental Council and Friends of the Columbia Gorge, and was a charter member of 1000 Friends of Oregon. She lobbied for passage of the Columbia Gorge Scenic Act and was appointed by Governor Straub to serve on the Gorge Commission.

Kate felt a particular need to protect Mt. Hood so founded the Friends of Mount Hood and devoted 30 years to working with the Forest Service and Oregon Congressional delegation to set aside more land for wilderness and also protect wetlands, wildflower meadows and other sensitive areas of the mountain from development. In 2002, she was awarded honorary membership in the Mazamas for her tireless efforts.

When Kate wasn’t saving Mt. Hood, she was on it or nearby. She lost track of the number of times she climbed it, in earliest years wearing only tennis shoes. Her senior thesis at Reed was titled “Angiosperms of the Mt. Hood Region.” Hikes with her included a running commentary of what was blooming along the trail. She always wanted to go “just around the next corner” and it was “a lighter gray ahead” even in the heaviest rains. Kate and Jerry traveled the world but she was happiest on the mountain with her camera and a peanut butter sandwich in her backpack.

Kate was predeceased by her parents; sisters, Sally Moore and Betty Walker; husband, Jerry; and daughter-in-law, Susan. She is survived by her sons, Steve (Lucinda Parker) of Portland, Timothy (Sharon) of Beaverton, Kermit (Maria Hein) of Portland and Mike of Parkdale; seven grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; five nieces and nephews; and numerous great-nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015, in the Gorge Room of the Hood River Inn, 1108 E. Marina Drive, Hood River, OR 97031.

Donations suggested to Friends of Mount Hood, P.O. Box 3098, Clackamas, OR 97015.


Kate will be missed greatly by all of us. She is responsible for much of what Friends of Mount Hood has achieved and her legacy will always be an inspiration for us. With your continued support we will carry on her work to preserve and protect the mountain we all love.

To read more about Kate, and listen to an audio of her reminiscing, go to our website at You will also find an analysis of the Timberline bike park lawsuit hearing which occurred on November 9, and the status of the Cooper Spur-Government Camp land trade.

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.