Family and friends joined White Salmon centenarian Stuart Chapin, center, for a hike on April 1 at Catherine Creek to ring in the longtime resident’s 100th birthday. (Chapin Family photo)
As of Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Longtime White Salmon resident F. Stuart Chapin, Jr., known to his friends as “Stuart,” celebrated his 100th birthday on April 1.
As in past years, he was joined by family and Native Plant Society friends in a visit to Catherine Creek to bear witness to the season’s rich display of wildflowers. They returned to “Overlook,” Stuart’s historic family home on the Gorge for a birthday luncheon. Overlook itself celebrated its 100th birthday in 2010.
Stuart and his wife Mildred retired to White Salmon in 1978. They moved from Chapel Hill, N.C. There Stuart was a founding member of the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina where he taught for 29 years becoming a renowned educator, author and researcher in the field of planning. UNC is paying tribute this year to Stuart for his contribution by creating a graduate student endowment in his name.
Mildred’s roots were in the Northwest and as a couple they shared a love for the Columbia River Gorge and its natural beauty. It was an easy decision to make White Salmon their home in retirement and settle into Overlook.
Drawing on his knowledge and experience in planning, Stuart served his state and community as a member of the Columbia River Gorge Commission between 1987 and 1992. Together the couple became active members of the Native Plant Society and for years explored the mountains of Washington and Oregon in pursuit of rare wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest.
From the detailed field notes they kept, they compiled a monograph “Wildflowers of the Mid-Columbia Region: Some Places and Times Where They Can Be Found,” tracking over 580 species of flowers. While Mildred recorded notes, Stuart photographed the flowers.
After Mildred’s death in 2003, Stuart self-published three books of his wildflower photos, featuring native flowers of Bird Creek Meadows, Catherine Creek, and Lookout Mountain.