Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lee Mann
Rest in Peace
The Skagit Valley is a better place because of you

I learned last Friday that renowned outdoors photographer Lee Mann passed away on Wednesday, July 20th. The news was a shock to me as it was to others who knew him. Lee lived a remarkable life and I am glad that I had gotten to know him. An outstanding photographer who came from a hardscrabble upbringing--Lee was also an outspoken person when it came to politics, policy, and the environment--and a great champion of the environment-especially here in Skagit County-where he was a big advocate and mover in the Skagit Land Trust.

I met Lee shortly after moving to Skagit County in 2007. At a Skagit Land Trust function we got to know each other--and talk frankly and pointedly on politics, policy and the environment. I respected Lee because he was passionate about these things and not afraid to discuss and share his views. And while Lee and I didn't often see eye-to-eye on political issues, we had a respect for each other and we enjoyed some good spirited ribbing. Lee and I even had a little crossfire going on in our local newspaper. It was all good natured, even though some of our mutual acquaintances thought that we were having a feud.

Lee and I got to work together on the beautiful Skagit Land Trust coffee table book, Natural Skagit; one of my (and probably Lee's too) proudest literary accomplishments. One of Lee's stunning photos opens my chapter on the county's history and unique people. Very apropos as Lee was a solid Skagitonian who loved with all his heart his home and the beautiful environment that it encompasses.

I'm going to miss you Lee, especially with another election cycle coming-it was always fun talking politics and policy with you. At least we agreed that Dan Evans and Albert Rosselini were great governors and they just don't make them like these guys anymore. And they don't make them like you anymore either, Lee. You will be missed here--but also remembered-especially every time I visit or pass by a protected property in the valley. And my truck carries a  special Washington National Parks license plate-with your gorgeous photo-reminding me of your work and passion for the natural world  every time I head to a trailhead.

I know Lee that you didn't believe in God, one of the other areas we liked to discuss. And in a 2007 interview in the V Groove you where asked-

"If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?"
Your straightforward answer-
"It doesn't, but if it did I would expect a just God to say, "You have been an honest skeptic and tried to leave the world a little better place. Come on in!"'

You have indeed left the world a better place, Lee. Thank you. Your spirit will live on here in the valley you loved.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Beautifully said Craig. We all miss Lee here so much. As you note, he was a rare man and put his talent where his heart was. We're better for having known him. We are fortunate that he leaves his beautiful photos as a legacy of the natural world he so loved. Molly Doran