Thane Tienson ’68, renowned environmental lawyer, admired throughout the Pacific Northwest, and known for his unfailing generosity, superb storytelling and indelible courage, died on January 28, 2021. Always extremely driven and hard-working, Thane began his first paper route at 7 years old, worked in fish canneries, and fondly reminisced about his days as a longshoreman. He began his lifelong running career in high school, and immersed himself in his studies. He had an encyclopedic memory; in high school he was known as “Thane the Brain.” He graduated from Santa Clara University in 1968 as a history major, then served in Vietnam with the United States Army as a frontline observer, and was awarded two purple hearts for his heroism in duty. Forty-five years later, he returned to Vietnam on a reconciliation trip organized by the National Lawyers Guild and had an impactful reconnection with the country and its people. He returned to Oregon to attend law school at Lewis & Clark and began a legal career that spanned four decades, much of them spent doing pro bono work. Thane was an environmental champion and won many noteworthy battles including a federal court ruling requiring sweeping changes in the way dams are operated to protect Pacific Northwest salmon. He also handled several influential cases regarding sexual harassment at sea, helping to improve standards for women aboard fishing and processing vessels. Thane’s large spirit encompassed diverse volunteer social justice initiatives. He chaired the Portland Urban League’s board, where he spoke out loudly against police violence in the Black community. He co-founded the National Fisheries Conservation Center and the Columbia River Keepers, serving as their longest standing board member. As a foot soldier for the National Lawyers Guild, he traveled to Bolivia and Southeast Asia to monitor elections and help encourage democratic processes.

02 Jul 2021