Honoring Elizabeth Furse
“Activism is an amazing life,” Elizabeth noted in a 2018 Columbia Riverkeeper profile. And no one lived those words more fully. We mourn the passing of our friend, board member, and a Columbia Riverkeeper founder. On this Earth Day, 21 years ago, Elizabeth and colleagues launched Columbia Riverkeeper. She was wrapping up her third term in Congress where she was a champion for peace, women, Native American Tribes, and our planet. You can read more about her incredible career here.
Helping to start a scrappy non-profit is not the typical power move when exiting Congress but it spoke volumes about Elizabeth’s values. “I found the Riverkeeper model fascinating: bringing together people at the neighborhood level and then connecting neighborhoods to other neighborhoods, eventually building a chain of river communities,” she said.
One of Elizabeth’s enduring legacies at Columbia Riverkeeper is the focus on working in solidarity with Tribal Nations. She worked closely with Native American leaders, including founding board member Don Sampson, to establish a group dedicated to protecting clean water and salmon habitat.
Since the beginning, Elizabeth was a supporter and inspiration to Columbia Riverkeeper. After a hiatus, she approached me three years ago and said she wanted to get deeply involved again. She was tired of lot of talk and wanted more action. “You guys are getting things done,” she told me. “I want to support that.” Elizabeth was always looking for the best way to contribute her considerable energy, political savvy, and quest for justice. We will miss her dearly and promise to do our best to continue her legacy of justice, integrity, and compassion while protecting the mighty Columbia.
“Activism is an amazing life”