In 2005, when a large swath of land near Ashford was scheduled to be clear-cut, Judy Scavone called the Nisqually Land Trust.
She helped the group organize an effort to buy and protect the 200 acres, said trust director Joe Kane. That effort eventually grew to protecting 2,500 acres.
“Her involvement was huge,” Kane said. “We wouldn’t have accomplished much of what we did without her. She was a force of nature in all the best ways.”
Scavone died Tuesday evening in her Ashford home after a nearly 21/2-year battle with colon cancer. She was 62.
Scavone was born in Chicago. After graduating from high school, she took a trip with two friends to Colorado. When it was time to go home, she stayed.
“She fell in love with the mountains,” said Bob Brown, Scavone’s husband. Scavone was a talented climber and skier, climbing to the top of Mount Rainier eight times.
She moved to Eatonville in the late 1970s where she quickly became involved in the community.
Bob Myrick, president of Ashford’s Mount Tahoma Trails Association, said he first met Scavone at a bakery in Eatonville in 1998. She noticed the MTTA patch on his ski patrol jacket and asked for a ride to Ashford.
“As time went by she became more and more involved,” Myrick said. “She became the matriarch of the group.”
She was drawn to Brown, the man who’d hatched the idea for the MTTA. They fell in love and lived together for 15 years. They married about the time of her diagnoses.
The cancer didn’t slow her down until her final days. She attempted Rainier’s Liberty Ridge, one of the mountain’s more technical routes, in 2014. And she made regular visits to the MTTA trails.
“Cancer might have killed her, but it did not take her dignity,” Brown said.
In an email distributed this week, MTTA board member Dave Stonington called Scavone and Brown “the heart and soul” of the organization.
Scavone managed reservations for the huts on the extensive trail system near Ashford. She also wrote applications for grants.
Myrick said Scavone’s persistence and work were instrumental in getting the Snow Bowl Hut rebuilt after a fire destroyed it in 2008.
She worked at Mount Rainier National Park, often staffing the Nisqually entrance.
“In a lot of ways, we all walked in Judy’s shadow,” Brown said. “Everybody respected and loved her.”
A public celebration of Scavone is planned for 7 p.m. Aug. 8 at Whittaker Mountaineering in Ashford.