Lee Tegner used to say he had one simple reason for dedicating his life to saving lives in the mountains.
“He’d say, ‘I don’t do it for my ego; I do it to help my fellow man,’” said Gus Bush, chairman of Tacoma Mountain Rescue. “That was his guiding thing. The golden rule: Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you.”
Tegner, 88, died Nov. 4 from complications from prostate cancer.
He leaves a lasting legacy that includes co-founding Tacoma Mountain Rescue in 1958, helping build the Camp Schurman cabin on Mount Rainier in the 1960s and helping erect Spire Rock in Spanaway in 1974.
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He also served in the Coast Guard during World War II.
Tegner was part of a small group of climbers who decided in 1958 that Pierce County needed a mountain rescue unit.
“They got together and decided whom better to help rescue mountain climbers than other climbers,” Bush wrote in an e-mail to the unit late Wednesday night. They “went to the aid of those in need out in the mountains because it was the right thing, the human thing.”
Another founding member, John Simac, died May 2 at the age of 93.
When the club first started, Bush says, “the sheriff basically pointed them into the woods and said, ‘Go find them.’”
Tegner was even made a deputy sheriff and coroner.
The unit was run by volunteers who paid for their own gear and transportation.
The organization is still run by volunteers, but it has a truck, gear, and a building for meetings and to store gear.
The amenities were paid for by the sale of survival kits, an idea launched by Tegner and Simac, Bush said.
In the 1960s, Tegner gave a mountain rescue demonstration for Gov. Albert Rosellini.
“He was demonstrating the value of the search and rescue teams,” Bush said.
Tacoma Mountain Rescue became a charter member of the National Mountain Rescue Association in 1959, helped with a rescue on Alaska’s Mount McKinley in 1960 and helped start the Washington State Emergency Management program in 1964.
Tegner remained active in Tacoma Mountain Rescue as recently as this year, sitting in on debriefings and helping with administrative duties.
A private service for Tegner will be later this month. His funeral service will be Nov. 26.
Craig Hill: 253-597-8497 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure