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Legacy Spotlight: Architects Design Their Gorge Legacy

By Pam Davee
Director of Philanthropy
February 16, 2022

When Nancy and Ron Gronowski first moved to Oregon from Ohio in 1979, they were amazed by the incredible beauty and one-of-a-kind resource they encountered when they saw the Columbia Gorge. Because they were so enthralled with the landscape, it also became the first place they took out-of-town visitors who came to see them.

When Nancy, a landscape architect, started working for Oregon State Parks in 1980, she had many opportunities to spend time in the Gorge and other unique places in Oregon, but one of her favorite undertakings while working for the state was helping to create the study for the Historic Columbia River Highway in 1987. Over the past 34 years, it has been meaningful and fulfilling to watch what has developed. Just as when the master roadbuilder Samuel Lancaster first engineered the highway in 1916 and integrated it so elegantly into the landscape, Nancy participated decades later in making the Historic Highway such a beautiful part of the Gorge today, a remarkable place for millions to enjoy.

Ron and Nancy agree that of all the work that Friends of the Columbia Gorge does to preserve, protect, and steward the Gorge, acquiring, protecting, and making it accessible for people of all abilities is foremost in their minds. With Ron’s career as an architect, and Nancy’s as a landscape architect, they understand what a constant balancing act it is to make sure the Gorge is both protected and accessible. They very aptly expressed the importance of those values, saying, “Regardless of economic, social, or physical status, everyone deserves to enjoy the beauty of the Gorge, and we are all responsible for protecting it.”

As members of Friends since our founder Nancy Russell was at the helm, Ron and Nancy have grown to love the Gorge and support Friends’ mission to preserve it. Deciding to continue their support beyond their lifetimes, they have named Friends in their estate plans, echoing their commitment to protecting the Gorge now and for future generations.

Nancy and Ron, thank you for your belief in our mission and your dedication to the Gorge!