Judith C. Johnson EnvironmentalistJudith C. Johnson, 91, an environmentalist who was a leader in the fight to preserve Assateague Island, died Feb. 13 of complications from a stroke at the Broadmead retirement community in Cockeysville, Md. Her fascination with Assateague -- a wild barrier island that stretches for 37 miles between Ocean City and Chincoteague, Va. -- began in the 1960s when she camped there with her son. The island had been proposed for protection as early as the 1930s, but by the 1950s the idea had been abandoned because development was underway. After a powerful nor'easter raked the island in 1962, the federal government designated it a national seashore. Nevertheless, a major highway project stretching down the island for 25 miles coupled with commercial development still threatened Assateague's pristine environment.
In 1970, Mrs. Johnson and five others founded the Committee to Preserve Assateague Island Inc., an organization that grew to more than 1,300 members. She was its first chairwoman and later served as its president. Its work was complicated because the island is composed of three parks: the national seashore, a national wildlife refuge and a Maryland state park.
In 1976, the National Seashore Act was amended to remove provisions for commercial development and for the proposed highway. Mrs. Johnson also led and won battles against a proposed sewage pipeline to be built across the beach, threatening the endangered piping plover.
Charles Shugarts Bookstore ModelCharles Shugarts, 88, the model for a statue of a reader at one of the nation's best-known bookstores, died Jan. 31 at his home in Denver. No specific cause of death was reported.
Mr. Shugarts, who loved being "Charlie" at the Tattered Cover Book Store, often visited the bookstore, where he would sit down next to the fiber glass and plastic statue of himself seated, reading a newspaper, and would assume the pose, his wife, Beverly, said.
"People would look at me and not know whether I was dead or alive," he said.
Mr. Shugarts's outgoing personality and affability were the reasons his niece, Margaret Quinn, chose him for a project to put art on the downtown 16th Street Mall in 1988. "Who else but my Uncle Shug would sit there in his skivvies while he got cast, with straws up his nose [to breathe)] and the material pulling the hair out of his arms?" Quinn asked. His payment was a bottle of Jack Daniels. The statue moved into the bookstore in 1990, and the family kept Charlie supplied in clean clothes from Mr. Shugarts's closet.
Mr. Shugarts himself, a native of Punxsutawney, Pa., spent his career with Insurance Service Offices, and after retiring, he was a driver for the Colorado Baggage Co. He was given several awards for his decades of work with the Boy Scouts.
Ed LaChapelle Avalanche ResearcherEd LaChapelle, 80, a pioneer in avalanche research, died of a heart attack Feb. 1 while skiing in fresh powder at Monarch Mountain in Colorado.
"To have that be his last day on the planet was perfect. He launched himself into some kind of legend with that," said his son, David.
A former University of Washington professor and a Tacoma, Wash., native, Mr. LaChapelle was already a legend to those who study atmospheric sciences and avalanches. He wrote "The ABC of Avalanche Safety," a handbook still used by backcountry adventurers, and developed a beacon to locate buried skiers. He also played a key part in founding the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center in Seattle.
While a teen, Mr. LaChapelle worked as a bellhop at Paradise Inn on Mount Rainier. In a letter he wrote later, he recalled seeing the evening sunlight on Mount Rainier and decided in a "single blinding moment" to dedicate his life to snow, ice and mountains. On his 21st birthday, Mr. LaChapelle -- who had overcome polio as a child -- climbed Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams in Washington and Mount Hood in Oregon on three consecutive days, his son said.
After a stint in the Navy at the end of World War II, Mr. LaChapelle went to Switzerland to study avalanches. He then plunged into research for the U.S. Forest Service in Utah and became part of a group of snow rangers called the Avalanche Hunters, whose members experimented with explosives in avalanche control.
From 1967 to 1982, Mr. LaChapelle was professor of atmospheric sciences and geophysics at the University of Washington. He retired to the remote town of McCarthy, Alaska, at the foot of the Wrangell Mountains, where he lived "off the grid," in a one-room log cabin that used solar energy to power appliances.