Former Columbian reporter Durbin dies

She was award-winning journalist, wrote several books

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter



Kathie Durbin, an author and award-winning journalist who had covered the Washington Legislature and the environment for The Columbian, died Friday in a Portland hospice facility.

Durbin, who was 68, had been battling pancreatic cancer. She had been at Legacy Hopewell House Hospice since Monday. A Portland resident, Durbin was on The Columbian’s reporting staff from July 1999 until December 2011, when she retired.

Her award-winning reporting included big regional stories like the removal of the Condit Dam on the White Salmon River and the wind-power boom in Klickitat County.

Durbin also was honored for her coverage of more intimate and personal topics. They include the story of a woman whose son’s genetic disorder was so rare that it didn’t even have a name.

The native of Eugene, Ore., graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism. She spent almost 16 years as a reporter at The Oregonian in Portland, from 1978 to 1994.

Durbin’s extended coverage of Northwest environmental issues and forest politics included the 1996 book “Tree Huggers: Victory, Defeat and Renewal in the Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign.”

In 1999, she wrote “Tongass: Pulp Politics and the Fight for the Alaskan Rain Forest.”

Durbin had finished writing another book, “The Columbia River Gorge: Bridging a Great Divide,” before she died.

Her funeral will be 3 p.m. Sunday at Holman’s Funeral Service, 2610 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd. in Portland.

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