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John Arum ’84

A picture of John Arum

John Arum ’84, August 28, 2010, from an accident in the North Cascades. John set a goal of climbing Washington's highest 100 peaks, and was embarked on a solo ascent of the 8,500-foot Storm King Mountain when he fell to his death. Colleagues remember John as a brilliant lawyer and one of the state's premier environmental and tribal advocates, who fashioned creative solutions that met the diverse and sometimes opposing interests of the people involved. He played a significant role in preserving the Loomis Forest in Eastern Washington in 1999 and represented the Makah Nation in its effort to regain the traditional right to hunt gray whales. He came to Reed from New York, earning a BA from the college in political science and then a JD from the University of Washington, where he was associate editor of the law review. He practiced Indian and environmental law with the Seattle firm Ziontz, Chestnut, Varnell, Berley and Slonim, and was on the board of the Washington Environmental Council, which honored John as an environmental hero in 1999. He also served on the board at the Center for Environmental Law & Policy, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting Washington's water, and on the board of the Vashon-Maury Island Audubon Society. Friend and classmate Matthew Bergman ’84 recalled that the Makah tribe inducted him as an honorary member for his help in fighting for their right to fish and hunt whales. “He decided very, very early on in his career that he didn't want to make the big bucks, although he had the intellectual acumen to do that. He made the career choice to do the kind of legal work that he enjoyed and that was meaningful to him.” John also represented Maury Island residents fighting a controversial gravel mine. The Washington Environmental Council noted his deep understanding of the issues, his keen legal mind, and his willingness to keep working until a solution was found. “His loss will be felt across the entire environmental community.” John and his wife, Susan Hormann, lived on Vashon Island and were married for 11 years. “John died doing one of the things he loved most: climbing a beautiful mountain in solitude, where he felt completely at home and nourished,” Susan told the Beachcomber of Vashon-Maury Island. In the Beachcomber, John was described as a principled and passionate man who opted for a career in environmental law because he wanted to make a difference, but was also as happy in the woods looking for birds as he was in the courtroom arguing a case. Survivors include Susan, his parents, a brother and sister.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2010

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