Remembering Mountaineer Fran Troje

It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Fran Troje, a beloved Mountaineers member, steadfast conservationist, and founder of our Foothills Branch.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
July 06, 2023
Remembering Mountaineer Fran Troje

Fran Troje, a beloved Mountaineers member, steadfast conservationist, and founder of our Foothills Branch, passed away on June 18, 2023. A force of nature and a force for nature, she was tirelessly dedicated to advocating for the protection of the natural world and the preservation of our special recreation spaces. She embodied our mission to the fullest – volunteering her time to teach others how to recreate safely while giving back to the lands and waters she so dearly loved. She was 92.

Fran joined The Mountaineers in July of 1978 and brought with her a deep love for whitewater recreation. She was a strong advocate for the creation of sea kayaking as its own Mountaineers course (which had previously been combined with canoeing). When the Sea Kayaking Committee was created, Fran was one of the committed volunteers who spent hundreds of hours planning, scheduling, training, and leading sea kayaking courses and activities, enabling more members to confidently enjoy the waters of the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to her leadership on the water, Fran was heavily involved in multiple branches of The Mountaineers, serving as chair on numerous activity committees and helping develop and instruct programs. After launching the first sea kayaking course, Fran went out of her way to help other branches develop their sea kayaking programs. Fran eventually settled in the foothills of the Cascades, later founding the Foothills Branch.

When not on the waters, Fran was fighting to protect them. A devoted conservationist facilitating Mountaineers involvement in projects geared toward increasing water access for recreationists, Fran spent much of her personal time working with the city and other nonprofit organizations to steward local waterways and other recreation areas. 

Fran elevated her conservation support as Chair for our Conservation Division, at the time responsible for coordinating trail maintenance and stewardship activities. She built deep relationships with partner organizations like Washington Trails Association and Volunteers for Outdoor Washington, and she was also a founding member of Washington Water Trail Association and Middle Green River Coalition. 


Humble but persistent, Fran dreamed big and fought hard for what she believed in. She was seen by the community as the go-to person for issues related to outdoor recreation in Washington. While not always the face of conservation and recreation efforts, she was often the one behind them, and knew never to take no for an answer. She was an ardent supporter of Washington State Parks funding and frequently drove to Olympia to track budget status, a key player in the efforts to establish the Nonhighway & Offroad Activities (NOVA) fund that supports state recreation projects, a board member of the Pacific Northwest Trail Association, a Mountaineers representative with the Mountains to Sound Greenway (whom she helped develop the vision for Middle Fork Snoqualmie Concept Plan), and an instrumental leader in pushing for the Pacific Crest Trail to pass through the Snoqualmie area where our Meany Lodge resides. 

Fran’s other notable achievements include: serving on the editorial team for The Mountaineer Annuals, serving as Vice President of the Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs, advocating for snowmobile rules on Mt. St. Helens and non-motorized boating safety in Washington waters, and helping plan and execute various conservation and recreation conferences across the state.

In 2001, Fran was awarded The Mountaineers Service Award Badge, an award given to one recipient annually for their immense contributions to the organization. Fran was selected for embodying “what it means to be a Mountaineer.” At the award ceremony, Fran was recognized as “a tireless volunteer who has boundless energy for numerous different activities and issues.” As a leader, instructor, and advocate, she promoted safe and responsible recreation on our public lands, worked to ensure continued access to our beautiful outdoor world, and above all, cultivated meaningful connection among the community. 

“Every club needs a ‘Fran’ who protects its mission and goals, and takes great pride in being the squeaky wheel whenever necessary to protect the interest of the club.”

In 2013, Fran was recognized with a Mountaineers Lifetime Achievement Award, our highest honor to recognize a longtime member for their lifelong contributions to the community. 

In a Mountaineers article celebrating her award, Fran was described as “the connector who makes things happen for human-powered recreation in the Pacific Northwest. Whether enjoying a state park, a trail, or a waterway, recreationists should pay thanks to Fran, one of the state’s most effective connectors of people who, together, can get things done for responsible access to the Northwest’s wealth of natural beauty.”

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Fran’s influence can be seen across Washington’s State Parks, backcountry trails, and waters. Here are just a few things friends have said about Fran’s contributions to our community: 

  • “She made immeasurable contributions to The Mountaineers conservation work and she was a big advocate and guardian of our Snoqualmie property. She devoted countless volunteer hours to numerous recreation and conservation organizations in the PNW. She loved working "behind the scenes" to persistently nudge people towards her cause and she was passionate about her beliefs.” - Martinique Grigg, former Executive Director for The Mountaineers
  • "Fran Troje was well-known throughout the Pacific Northwest for her passionate, opinionated, tenacious brand of conservation. I knew when I saw her crossing the room and heading my way that I was about to have my arm seriously twisted! In the end, because she cared so much about our special slice of the natural world – she never quit and rarely compromised -- and she got important conservation work done." – Helen Cherullo, Executive Director of Braided River 
  • “Fran was exceptional in her steadfast vision of what a volunteer-driven organization could achieve in the world of Northwest recreational and conservation issues and challenges. She held us to account for our actions and decisions with a feisty and passionate spirit that always made us better.” – Steve Costie, former Executive Director for The Mountaineers

Fran lived by what she called “The Mountaineer way – learning from those we follow and teaching those that follow us.” Thank you, Fran, for teaching us how to live out The Mountaineer way to the fullest. 

Celebration of life

A Celebration of Life for Fran will be held at The Mountaineers Seattle Program Center on Sunday, July 30, 2023, at 2pm. Please come to visit with old friends and share stories of the boundlessly connected, inspiring Fran Troje.  RSVP requested if convenient.