When Rick Ray first became a Friends member in 1982, he could never have imagined that it was just the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship.
Now, with the benefit of hindsight, it seems like Rick and Friends were an inevitable pairing.
In 1987, Rick moved to the Scenic Area where his passion for land protection, as well as his youth and valuable experience non-profits, was mentioned by Friends' staff to founder Nancy Russell. She asked Rick to join the board of the fledgling organization in 1993 where he ultimately served for more than two decades.
Rick considers his greatest contribution during his tenure on the board to be his role in hiring Friends' current Executive Director, Kevin Gorman. But if hiring Kevin was Rick's greatest contribution to Friends, Friends' greatest contribution to Rick was giving him the opportunity to get to know his future wife, Anne.
Anne Philipsborn was enthusiastically making her way through Friends' spring wildflower hike series when she met Rick. The two soon discovered more than just a variety of beautiful flowers. Over the course of a guided hike, they learned that they had grown up in the same Chicago neighborhood, knew many of the same families, and even shared some of the same teachers.
In short, Rick and Anne were from a common world and they shared a common culture and history. Three years after that fateful hike, they were married. Since then, they have both grown their love for the Gorge, their new common world.
Today, Rick and Anne both call the Gorge home and have both played an integral role in this organization. Anne has become deeply committed to their community noting, " It is striking how deeply I have fallen in love with the Gorge. It has given me a strong sense of place which continues to deepen and strengthen. " Meanwhile Rick has served as a land trustee since 2010, helping to protect land in perpetuity and bring in local residents as stakeholders.
One of the most meaningful decisions Rick and Anne have made recently is to include Friends in their estate plan. As Anne puts it, " I want future generations to feel the special connection to the Gorge we do. To hear the frogs and owls at night are just some of the Gorge's beautiful pieces. "
Rick agrees, " There are a lot of things you can do when you leave money in an estate plan and it can all feel really amorphous, but leaving a gift to Friends is to a specific local place and it feels very relatable. "
Looking ahead to the next 40 years, Rick and Anne are particularly concerned about the harmful effects of irresponsible development and congestion. By including Friends in their estate plans, they hope to protect the Gorge from these and other threats, for generations to come.
We are proud to know these exceptional people and are so grateful for their longstanding commitment to Gorge protection work!