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Edmond Stephen Meany, 1862-1935

EDMOND STEPHEN MEANY 1862-1935

Edmond Stephen Meany was born in East Saginaw, Michigan, December 28, 1862. He died in Seattle, Washington, April 22nd, 1935.

Few men, in the span of a single life, contribute broadly to widely divergent fields of human knowledge, and at the same time, influence vitally thousands of human lives. Those who knew Professor Meany best could never fully understand where he found the time or the energy to enter so generously into the whole intellectual life and the human activities of the Pacific Northwest. That he did so truly do this must have come from the eternal zest of high purpose, which, with his splendid physical strength, his remarkable mental depth and endurance, and his high courage, enabled him to work cheerfully onward when lesser men would have been forced to pause and rest. To the last hour of his great life of service Professor Meany contributed the boon of inspired leadership.

In 1919 Professor Meany climbed Mount Baker, his last of the six major peaks of Washington. Through unavoidable delay his party of eight was unable to complete the descent before darkness. From Grouse Ridge to Heliotrope camp were blind trails that required careful scouting. In the time of waiting, urged by the rest of the party, Professor Meany did something that he seldom did. He indulged in reminiscence.

His story that black night was an interesting cross-section of the history of the State of Washington. He told of his work as a newsboy on the streets of early Seattle, his promotion to a milk route, later newspaper reporting, the city editorship, a “Master’s Degree” at the University of Wisconsin, history teaching in the University of Washington, promotion to executive head of the Department of History in 1897, the founding of The Washing Historical Quarterly in 1906 and his activities as managing editor, his work with Boy Scouts, Pioneers, The Mountaineers, his two terms in the first Legislatures of Washington, his bill in the Legislature to establish the University of Washington, his first book, and other more intimate details of pioneer life. The story was told simply, with the humility that attends greatness of purpose and with pride in the great reaches of his own Northwest. Those of us who spent those fascinating hours of a windswept night on the high shoulder of Mount Baker have lived to see sixteen years of service added to round out and enhance the greatness of the life well spent.

A bibliography of the authorship of Edmond S. Meany consists of over 500 items, among which are: Twenty-eight books and pamphlets, general; eleven laws and codes ; five articles on historical geography; thirty-five articles on general history topics of the research type; thirty-three books and articles on state history; forty-six articles on pioneering; eighteen books and articles on the Indian; thirteen books and articles on mountaineering; fourteen books and articles on natural history.

Illustrative of the many honors conferred upon Professor Meany that cannot be told in detail, is the fact that colleges and historical societies have proven their appreciation by bestowing highest honors, and that, in his later years, France conferred upon him the degree of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.

In all these busy years Professor Meany was the ideal devotee of the out-doors and the high mountains, president of The Mountaineers for twenty-seven years, he never missed one of the club’s summer outings. His membership in The American Alpine Club was ever cherished with loyal appreciation.

The mountains have lost a great and understanding advocate and a faithful follower of the high trails. But through the permanency of inherited leadership, and the deathless message of the printed word, Edmond Stephen Meany will ever lie with us in the mountains that he loved.

J. T. H.