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City names park for PLU nature lover

Growing up on 150 acres of land, it was only natural that Thelma Gilmur '42, '46, '64 would gain a deep, life-long appreciation for the environment.

Now it seems that the environment has developed an appreciation for her.

The longtime Fircrest, Wash., resident and local environmental activist was recognized in fall by a city park named in her honor.

[PHOTO][CREDIT: Dean Koepfler, The News Tribune (WA) 1996]

Thelma Gilmur was surprised last year when a local park was named in her honor.

Thelma Gilmur Park is a seven-acre wooded parcel on Evergreen Drive and Emerson Street/40th Street West. Its serene landscape is tucked away, just off a bustling thoroughfare.

The park is home to a pond, surrounded by dense foliage, cattails, blackberry bushes and stands of dulchium - a rare wetland species.

Red alder, willow and western crabapple trees find room to grow there, and make spots for birds such as Stellar's jay, red-winged blackbirds and freshwater ducks.

Although Gilmur started out in teaching - she completed five years of teacher's education at PLU, earning three degrees - she was able to picture herself as an environmental activist early on.

She began her activism through environmental teaching with Girl Scouts in 1942, and continued it as part of the Nature Conservancy and as a charter member of the Tahoma Audubon Society. Gilmur also served on the Tacoma School District's Environmental Education Committee.

"You begin to see the changes, see the open spaces disappear," she said, describing why it was compelling to stick with the work for so long. "For many years I read environmental impact statements. Wherever the environment could be improved, I tried to help."

Gilmur helped with many environmental preservation projects in the Tacoma area over the years, but she says the one that she was most involved with was China Lake Park, located just two blocks from her home.

Gilmur also aided in preserving the park since named in her honor, helping citizens and the Tahoma Audubon Society convince the city to pick up the land as open space instead of letting it be developed by the land's owner.

The simple fact that the park is there and that people will be able to use it is what Gilmur enjoys most about her new namesake. "There are lots of older people in Fircrest, and they will be able to walk on the trail," she said.

This story was excerpted from an article by Gestin Suttle that appeared in the Oct. 30, 1996 (Tacoma) News Tribune, and was contributed to by Katie Monsen '96

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Source: Pacific Lutheran Scene, Spring 1997
Edited by: Janet Prichard, Senior Editor (prichajd@plu.edu)
Maintained by: Webmaster (webmaster@plu.edu).
Last Update: 03/10/97