David Robert Weiss died March 3, 2009. He was born Dec. 15, 1965, in Portland, Ore.
He graduated from Lincoln High School in Portland, and went on to earn a degree in biology and environmental education at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.
Following graduation, he was employed by the Army Corps of Engineers at Bonneville Dam as a park ranger, leading tours and giving talks, all related to the history and ecology of the area around the dam and beyond in the Columbia River Gorge. This was his special place in the world and he loved exploring it and encouraging others to do the same.
David had a couple of interim positions at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in The Dalles and the Bay Project in San Francisco, and then returned to Bonneville, where he continued to expand interpretive and outreach programs. In 2007 he was honored with the Army Corps of Engineers National Interpreter of the Year award.
David developed his love of the outdoors through many family hiking, camping, back-packing, skiing and mountain-climbing trips. He dearly loved spending time at the family cabin on Mount Hood, near Parkdale, where he attended the Parkdale Elementary School for his sixth-grade year.
He was passionate about sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for the biology, ecology and history of the Gorge through his volunteer work with the Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute, especially with their SECRETS youth education program. He was on the board of the institute, where he served as vice president.
Leading Elderhostel and ROADS Scholar tours was another aspect of his joy of teaching. David, aka “Whipsnake” or “Ranger Dave, Idol of Northwest Youth” — a title he gave himself — took great pleasure in playing marimba (Zimbabwe style) and performing with the Hood River Community Theater.
He will be deeply missed by his parents, Robert and Joanne Weiss; his sisters, Barbara Weiss and Carol Capurso; his niece, Rebecca, and nephew, Nicholas Capurso; and countless friends and colleagues.
A memorial gathering will be held Saturday, March 28, at 1:30 p.m. in the auditorium at Bonneville Dam. Gifts in his memory may be made to the Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute, P.O. Box 1104, Hood River, OR 97031. (Visit www.gorgeecology.org to see a tribute to David, with photos.)
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