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In Memoriam: George Sainsbury

Posted on: April 8th, 2011 by Luke Bauer

George Ross Sainsbury, American Alpine Club Board Member, Chairman of Seattle Mountain Rescue, and charter member of Olympia Mountain Rescue, passed away in Bakersfield, Ca. on March 13, 2011 while returning from a bird-watching trip.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 16 from 1 to 3 p.m. at The Mountaineers Program Center in Seattle. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Nature Conservancy, the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America, or the Girl Scouts of Western Washington. Call (206) 521-6000 for more information.

Sainsbury was born May 9, 1925 in Longview, Washington. He was a graduate of Kelso High School and the University of Washington. His greatest passions were his family, mountain search and rescue, and scouting.

George was a prominent figure in the climbing world. He acquired his passion for search and rescue after an attempt on a new route on Mt. Rainier’s South Face led to a crevasse fall on the Kautz Glacier. George spent 22 hours below the surface of the glacier before being rescued. Inspired by his own rescue, Sainsbury dedicated the rest of his life to the rescue of others—working alongside Seattle Mountain Rescue, Olympia Mountain Rescue, and the American Alpine Club to advance mountain safety.

In 1997, the American Alpine Club awarded George the Angelo Heilprin Citation for his work in preventing mountaineering accidents in Washington State.  The citation is awarded annually “to that person who has, in the opinion of the citation committee, shown exemplary service to the Club…It can be differentiated from outstanding mountaineering accomplishment or service through the Club to the climbing community.” Sainsbury was a tireless advocate for the Club’s ideals and fundamental organizational goals.

George was also an important figure in the scouting world.  He worked for a decade with the Boy Scouts of America, both as the District Executive for the Chief Seattle Council and as the Executive of the Olympic Area Council.  He spent another decade with the Girl Scouts of USA, where he served on the national staff as financial adviser for Region 11.

George’s wife of almost 62 years, Mary Jane Sainsbury, and their daughter, Mary Ann Sainsbury, both survive him.

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