Tireless volunteer expressed love for Methow with action
Longtime community activist Mike Real, who died in August at age 72, has followed the examples of others such as the late Ken Westman and Red McComb in bequeathing a lasting legacy to the Methow Valley.
Methow Trails, on whose board Real once sat, announced in a press release this week that Real chose to support 15 local nonprofit organizations in his will: AeroMethow Rescue Service, Classroom in Bloom, Community Foundation of North Central Washington, Friends of the Winthrop Library, Jamie’s Place, Methow Conservancy, Methow Housing Trust, Methow Trails, Methow Recycles, Methow Valley Citizens Council, Methow Valley Fund of the Community Foundation of North Central Washington, Public School Funding Alliance, Room One, TwispWorks and Winthrop Kiwanis.
“I know Mike thought about this decision very carefully and he felt really good about it, since it was a way to express his gratitude for getting to live joyfully in the Methow Valley,” said Real’s partner, Jane Gilbertsen, in the press release. “This was Mike’s way of saying thanks for the memories.”
According to the release, Real felt personally connected to those nonprofits. “Most often, that connection grew over time as he spent countless hours with them building trails, pulling weeds, serving on boards, helping set up for an event, etc.,” according to the release. “He was tireless and he was always willing to offer a kind word to the staff and other volunteers working alongside him.”
“Mike’s signature ear-to-ear grin always greeted staff, fellow volunteers and board members with enthusiasm and joy. Mike always showed up early, stayed late and gave it his all,” Methow Trails Executive Director James DeSalvo said in the release. “He directly helped build or rebuild 11 bridges and countless miles of trail in the Methow. His joy and somehow his smile grew even wider every time he watched someone bike, walk or ski across a section of trail he had worked on. I am forever grateful for his inspiring friendship, hard work and lasting gift to the Methow.”
Real was inspired by McComb’s decision to support a number of local valley nonprofits in his will, as well as the community bequests left by Westman, according to the release.
“It is very gratifying to see how Mike choose to honor and inspire the nonprofit community here in the Methow, a place he felt a deep connection to,” said Jay Lucas of the Methow Valley Fund. “His decision to gift to the Methow Valley Fund, like others before him, shows a commitment and desire to help these organizations grow and hopefully inspire others to do the same.”
According to an obituary published in the Methow Valley News earlier this year, Real was a retired Northwest Airlines pilot who built a home in the valley with late wife, Dee Real. He married Gilbertsen in 2021.
Real also served on the boards of the Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival and the Twisp Municipal Airport. Among other activities, he also volunteered at Methow Recycling’s Repair Café.