Bette Wallace was not born in Washington. She did not die in Washington. In fact, she lived only 14 of her 92 years in Washington, but those 14 years in the Pacific Northwest must have made quite an impact. The Washington National Park Fund announced earlier this week they’d received a donation of $1 million from Wallace’s estate.

Wallace was born in Montana and moved to Snohomish County, Washington, at four years old. When she graduated high school in 1942, she set off on an U.S. Army career that took her from Alaska to Japan before she settled in Mountain View, California, with her husband, where the two owned local drug stores. Wallace continued to travel extensively, but clearly, Washington was never far from her heart.

“On behalf of (Wallace’s) trust it was our family’s honor to make this donation on her behalf to the Washington’s National Park Fund knowing it will be used for many projects including a combination of saving lives and supporting volunteer infrastructure in the parks,” Cheri Ryan, Wallace’s niece said.


The WNPF supports Washington’s Olympic, Mt. Rainier, and North Cascades national parks.


Mt. Rainier and Olympic national parks will use their share to add needed upgrades to their computerized dispatch system for rangers. North Cascades will bolster their volunteer program. All three of the parks are glad to have the donation.

The national parks got a nice little funding boost last month when Congress not only rejected Secretary Zinke’s proposed budget cuts but allocated more than $650 million more than the NPS asked for in next year’s budget. However, funding in recent years has lagged behind need and every little bit helps, not that $1 million is a little bit.

“This funding comes at a pivotal time for Washington’s three largest national parks,” said Sarah Creachbaum, Olympic National Park’s superintendent. “Our country’s national parks have experienced many financial challenges in recent years and there is a significant maintenance backlog. This wonderful donation via WNPF enables us to invest in much-needed safety technology that can quite literally save lives in Washington for years to come.”

Photo: Ralph Arvesen