Author Ruth Kirk, a longtime Thurston County resident and renowned Pacific Northwest historian, spent much of her life in national parks.
She authored more than 35 books exploring the outdoors in Washington and beyond, and published her final book in 2015, when she was 89 years old.
Several years prior, former Olympian environmental reporter and columnist John Dodge asked Kirk if she was still writing.
"Well, John, a writer never stops writing," she told him, with a twinkle in her eyes.
Kirk, who had Parkinson's disease, died April 19 at the Panorama Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center in Lacey. She was 92.
A Los Angeles native, Kirk joined her husband, Louis Kirk, a park ranger whom she married in 1943, in his journeys to seven national parks in the western United States. The Kirks had two sons, Bruce and Wayne.
Ruth Kirk published her first book, "Exploring Death Valley," in 1956 with her husband.
“I really think books are good,” she once told the Washington State Historical Society. “We all can enjoy our dance through this life more if we know about the stage that we’re dancing on.”
The couple moved to the Pacific Northwest in the 1950s, and were stationed in the area for five years.
Ruth Kirk climbed Mount Olympus at Olympic National Park, and climbed Mount Rainier five times. Following her husband's death, she moved to Lacey permanently in 1992.
She was commissioned to write about Mount Rainier in 1997 by Washington State Historical Society director David Nicandri.
"She was the obvious person to write the book," Nicandri told The Olympian in 1999. "Ruth is one of the region's premier storytellers with a long record of natural science and history writing."
Her book, "Sunrise to Paradise: The Story of Mount Rainier National Park," was published in March 1999.
According to an article written by Dodge, Kirk wanted to write a book that would "resonate with those knowledgeable about the mountain and attract those who know nothing about the mountain."
"I want people to love my mountain," she said.
Kirk, who was a resident at the Panorama retirement community in Lacey for nearly two decades, married archaeologist Richard Daugherty, a former Washington State University professor and pioneer in his field, in 2007.
The two co-penned "Hunters of the Whale: An Adventure in Northwest Coast Archaeology" (1974) and "Archeology in Washington" (2007).
Kirk finished the draft of what would be her final book, "Ozette: Excavating a Makah Whaling Village," days before Daugherty's death in 2014 at age 91.
The book, which published in 2015, was Kirk's 12th book published by the University of Washington Press.
A moving image collection created by Ruth and Louis Kirk that includes a "substantial body of regionally important work directly related to the history, the landscape, and the people of the Pacific Northwest" is available at the University of Washington Libraries.
Many of Ruth Kirk's books are available for purchase on Amazon. She spent much of her life writing books to "help explain the ecosystems and human interactions that shape natural areas," Dodge wrote in 1999.
"My books are interpretations of the unfamiliar — a bridge between the known and the unknown," she told The Olympian.