“He flew in through the front doors of John Muir’s Grand Cathedral of the natural world, he did not go by foot.” – Kristine Tompkins
On January 31st, 2016, over 1,000 people came together in San Francisco to toast the incredible life of Douglas Tompkins. The event was filled with stories of a remarkable, wild, courageous man, told by family, friends, colleagues, and admirers.
To begin the afternoon, films of Doug’s work and accomplishments played while guests entered the lofty Herbst Pavilion at Fort Mason Center. Large photographs of the beautiful landscapes and creatures Doug helped to protect decorated the Pavilion walls, books of Doug’s activism and conservation projects lay on display, and visitors admired the gallery of black and white images of Doug’s many renowned adventures.
Guests from all parts of Doug’s life reconnected over their shared loss as they began to take their seats. John Lennon’s “Imagine”, played by Doug’s close friend Debbie Barker and son-in-law Dan Imhoff, rang out as an opening to the main service. What followed was a steady stream of family and friends, speaking to the impact that Doug had on their own lives.
Doug’s wife, Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, touched on the power of Doug’s convictions. When describing her late husband, she said, “He sought beauty in his life in all things, he was unafraid with a wild streak and was a fierce defender of those beings who do not have their own voice.”
Tom Butler, a long-time friend, colleague and mentee of Doug, spoke to the vast contributions Doug made to the global conservation narrative. Tom described these contributions as continuing on, long after Doug’s passing:
“On some distant morning, when thousand-year-old alerce trees stretch to the heavens in Pumalin National Park, when jaguars and giant anteaters roam freely in Ibera National Park, when great herds of guanacos fill the Chacabuco Valley of Patagonia National Park, Doug’s brief moment on this once-and-future wild Earth will be reflected in these habitats and creatures, his vision embodied in their genetic lineage and evolutionary potential. His work—and our work—for beauty, for wildness—will have no end.”
As the voices continued to highlight the unique and varying impacts of Doug’s legacy, a sense of community permeated the room. Each person created an image of a man that resonated. A man that pushed the boundaries for what he knew to be right. A man with a truly wild legacy.
Photographer Michelle Pattee captured the day’s events, which are now posted to a free online gallery. We welcome you to browse the gallery and download photos, enjoy video footage of the afternoon’s many speeches, and share your favorite Doug stories on the Share Your Memories page.
If you wish to make a donation to the Tompkins Conservation ongoing projects, please visit: Douglas R. Tompkins Wild Legacy Fund of the Marin Community Foundation.