A Bequest to Give Back

Mary Hsue Mary Hsue
October 15, 2014

In the three years I’ve been with The Mountaineers, I’ve discovered our members live long and rich lives. 

Case in point: the 275 invitations we mailed for our annual luncheon to recognize Mountaineers members who have maintained their membership for 50 years or more. I suspect our members' longevity may be the result of decades of living an active lifestyle, following a healthy diet, enjoying adventures with fellow members, or simply ample exposure to fresh mountain air and clean water. Because, looking at the photo of Jim in 1958, rappelling on Sahale Peak wearing Converse hi-tops and not wearing a helmet or harness, it’s safe to say that it isn’t due to current practices of outfitting oneself for safety and with the latest high-tech climbing gear. Not a lot of climbing gear was available when Jim first learned to climb with The Mountaineers in 1950. Like many 50-year members, he joined to take the Basic climbing course. “Mountaineers' courses were wonderful and outings and climbing trips were fun,” said Jim, “I wish I had time to take more courses or spend time with The Mountaineers.” But he was too busy building a business.

Growing up in the north end of Tacoma as the youngest of four children, Jim is about as homegrown as it gets. His parents took the family hiking and camping regularly, so he appreciates the benefits of being exposed to the outdoors at an early age. Jim said, “I remember going to Spring Beach on the southwest side of Vashon Island. We went there since I was two years old and almost every year growing up. You can say my parents inspired me to continue my outdoor activities.”Jim graduated from Stadium High School and got his engineering degree at the University of Puget Sound. Like many engineering graduates, Jim landed a job with Boeing. And like many Boeing engineers in 1971, he was part of the largest layoff in company history. After 30 years on the job and with lots of time on his hands, Jim used the time to invent things. For him it was an opportunity. He’d saved some money and, he said, "I had ideas about what I wanted to do. I wanted to manufacture something."Outdoor adventurers worldwide benefited from Jim's use of time to invent. Jim merged his love of the outdoors with his engineering know-how and developed a big idea. If you’ve spent any time sleeping outdoors, you probably slept on the big idea Jim came up with. "The Therm-a-Rest air mattress is my invention," Jim said. That’s right, the Therm-a-Rest pad. The world’s first self-inflating mattress used by outdoor adventurers all over the world. Jim went on to co-found Cascade Designs with his close friend, Neil Anderson and climbing buddy, John Burroughs.

Jim doesn’t do much with The Mountaineers these days, but he says “I enjoy seeing my friends at the 50-year Member Luncheon. Mountaineers I’ve met and have come to know over the years are nice, good people with great values. A wonderful gang.” Jim reconnected with a few members of his “gang” at the 50-year Member Luncheon in May, where I had the opportunity to thank him for informing us that he chose to leave a bequest for The Mountaineers in his will.

Jim is happy to hear about the success of The Mountaineers youth programs. He said, “I think it’s wonderful when an organization takes advantage of its capabilities and gets young people involved. I support The Mountaineers efforts to get young people in the out of doors.”

I’m grateful for Jim’s invention, but I’m also grateful to him for choosing to elevate The Mountaineers to family status by leaving a bequest in his will. I’m grateful to him for caring to further a mission, a culture, and what I believe The Mountaineers produces through challenging people and teaching them how to be safe in the outdoors: better people who value the outdoors and care to make the world a better place.

Share the love

If you want to share the love of the outdoors and conserve the lands and waters you care about, but cannot make a gift today, you can leave a legacy that reflects your individual values. Consider including The Mountaineers in your will or estate plan. It is easy to make a charitable bequest. Bequests allow you retain control of your assets during your lifetime. Like Jim, when you make a gift through your estate to The Mountaineers, and let us know about your gift, you become a member of the Summit Society — a special group of visionary supporters who have chosen to further The Mountaineers mission and make a lasting impact on the outdoor community and natural world. For more information or to share your donor story, contact me at maryh@mountaineers.org.

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