Given what a strong Democrat Dr. Justin StormoGipson is and his spouse and life-partner, Dr. Maj StormoGipson was, I was surprised over the years I had not met either of them. She was a respected pediatrician, and he is an equally respected ophthalmologist, residing and practicing in Kootenai County.
They are the kind of people who help make Idaho special. They care about others and they love the wild aspects of Idaho - its wilderness, mountains, and rivers. Upon graduating from Dartmouth Medical School with their medical degrees, but before selecting their specialties, both spent two years as general practitioners working with the poor and needy in Central America.
Every year since finishing their residencies in 1991 they worked with Doctors without Borders volunteering time in third world countries helping the needy. Tellingly, both would speak eloquently not about what they were doing, but what they were receiving from those they assisted.
There is a special Grace in recognizing that in giving of time, talent and treasure to others one receives so much more in return.
On August 1 Idaho’s Selway River to hear the tragic news that Maj, the matriarch of a remarkable family, had drowned in a rubber kayak that became entrapped on a fallen tree across Idaho’s other truly outstanding river rafting experience, the Middle Fork of the Salmon.
According to a moving account written by her children and husband*, all of whom were on a trip that had been her Christmas gift to the family, she came around a blind curve with little chance to move to the far right quickly enough to avoid a recently fallen tree burned in a fire that had toppled most of the way across the Middle Fork.
Rafting guides will tell a client this is their worst nightmare. Depending n the volume of water even a raft can easily be flipped, let alone a rubber kayak, and the chances of instantly being trapped by branches under water is high.
The wilderness can be unforgiving of any mistake, whether of choice or chance. There is an inherent risk many are willing to take for the opportunity to be in and a part of wild Idaho that is what most of America was before the first European explorers arrived. (more…)