In sorrow, a farewell to Kay!
Kay Treakle, our longtime friend, colleague, and mentor, passed away on June 10th. She died from a type of liver cancer most frequently associated with environmental toxins.
Kay grew up in Tacoma under the shadow of a large Asarco copper smelter. Possibly the toxins spewing from this smelter contributed to the cancer that later developed in her body. Kay left Tacoma as a young adult and committed herself to environmental causes, returning three decades later. The smelter was gone, but the symbolic fire it had lit in Kay as a force for environmental activism continued to burn with all the intensity of the old Asarco blast furnace.
Kay was our very first Executive Director, masterfully holding that position for over 13 years until her illness forced her early retirement in 2019. It is almost impossible to capture in words all Kay’s contributions and achievements, and what she meant not just for our Foundation but for the overall conservation community. The comment of “punching above its weight class” was something we frequently heard when we inquired about our Foundation’s performance and influence in the conservation community. But, this was largely thanks to Kay. She fully embodied and personified all the good ideas and work that has at times been attributed to our organization. We simply had the good fortune that Kay came to work for us, and given her ever abundant talent, skill and experience, we were smart enough to let her operate unfettered. She was a force of nature, for nature!