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Living On
Red McComb's gifts

photoRed McComb fell in love with the Methow the first time he visited. Photo by Sheela McLean

Eight Methow Valley non-profit organizations are the surprised recipients of significant bequests from the estate of the late Red (David) McComb, who died at his modest Mazama home March 9 at the age of 91.

The biggest recipient was the Methow Valley Education Foundation, which received 20 percent of the estate, said Jay Lucas, who was one of McComb’s personal representatives. “He absolutely knew the value of education,” said Lucas.

Aero Methow Rescue Service, The Cove, the Mazama Community Club, the Winthrop Barn and the Methow Valley Community Center in Twisp each received 5 percent, and the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association and the Winthrop Ice and Sports Rink each received 10 percent, said Lucas. These bequests totaled 65 percent of McComb’s estate, said Lucas. The remainder was willed to individuals, he said.

James DeSalvo, MVSTA’s executive director, told Grist the $100,000 bequest to MVSTA was an unexpected, much-appreciated, “big headline” event that would be very helpful to his organization.

“He was a pretty private individual,” Lucas said of McComb. “He wanted to stay out of the limelight. Even though he had been giving to charities of his choosing during his lifetime, he didn’t want any fuss made over him. He was saving the big stuff for the end.”

“He’s the best example in the valley of the value of money over time,” added Lucas, who said McComb routinely invested “very small amounts” in stocks over many decades. And, added Lucas, who said he knew McComb for 30 years, “To me, he was incredibly frugal. He’d be the first one to buy the day-old maple bar, and the man did live on sugar. I think it was from the Depression mentality.”

photoAero-Methow Rescue went public in their gratitude to Red McComb. They were one of eight valley non-profit organizations that received a portion of McComb's estate after his death. Photo by Karen West.

“Red fell in love with the valley his first trip here,” Lucas said.McComb was an entomologist who worked for 30 years for the U.S. Forest Service out of Portland and sometimes his work brought him to the valley. After retirement he went to work for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. He had a 48-year work career, said Lucas.

McComb, who suffered from asthma and allergies, was so allergic to his own beloved Golden retriever that the dog could not come inside the house, said Lucas.

He was briefly married but had no children and had “virtually no blood relatives living,” said Lucas. Born in Philadelphia, McComb hitchhiked west as a young man. When World War II started he tried to enlist but was turned away because he was too young. So he went to Canada and joined the Canadian Air Force. When he was old enough, he returned to the United States and joined the U.S. Marine Corps, said Lucas.

“He had another nice habit. Whenever somebody from his home town died, he would send a check to a church, $100 in memory of that person. That was going on for decades,” said Lucas.

McComb showed his sense of humor in his will. As a joke, he left a box of his old socks to one of his friends “who he had helped a lot, who was always borrowing things from him,” said Lucas.

McComb brought his elderly mother to the valley to live with him, said Lucas. She passed away at age 101. McComb is buried next to her in Winthrop’s Sullivan’s Cemetery.


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