American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Donald Mason Woods, 1903-1989

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1990



Teacher, climber, outdoorsman, photographer, world traveler, singer, actor, dancer, Donald Mason Woods died as a result of a freak accident on September 6, 1989. While alighting from his family pick-up truck in his own driveway, he was struck by the rear of a hatchback which hurtled across the small street, totalling the truck. Although helicoptered to the Washington Medical Center, he died from complications on September 20.

Don led a very eventful life, beginning with his birth in Cottage Grove, Oregon, on May 3, 1903. Educated in the Cottage Grove and Weiser, Idaho, schools, he earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Oregon. He taught school in Oregon, but soon moved as chemistry teacher to Spokane, where he married the biology teacher, Lynda Rosalia Mueller. The young couple returned to the University of Oregon, where Don completed his master’s degree in chemistry. They moved on to San Jose, California, where they lived for more than 50 years. Don taught for many years at the San Jose High School and then in the Willow Glen High School.

Don always had a strong affinity for the outdoors and was both an inveterate mountain climber and a “desert rat.” In the early 1930s, he was one of the first to climb Mount Robson and also was part of an unsuccessful assault on Mount Waddington. He continued to climb mountains almost all his life. In fact, he met Lynda at a Canadian Rockies mountain camp. He climbed several thousand mountains in the US, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Japan, Africa, New Zealand, Switzerland and Norway. He joined the American Alpine Club in 1930 and was a member of the Sierra Club, Mazamas, and the Alpine Club of Canada.

He was also active in the San Jose Light Opera Association. Don and Lynda were also inveterate folk dancers. An early pioneer in 35mm photography, he shot thousands of color slides of his frequent travels to the West of the United States, the entire nation and overseas.

He leaves a son, five granddaughters and two great-grandchildren.

David Lyndon Woods

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