John Roland – Our Champion

John Roland, 63, died peacefully on October 10, 2021. He was a senior geologist with the Washington Department of Ecology who had worked in the Agency’s Spokane regional office for more than three decades.

I was fortunate enough to meet John in 2008. He was the first Government employee that not only read the dozens of letters I wrote him, regarding the gross negligence of the decades of heavy metal toxins Teck Smelter was dumping into the Columbia River, and also emitting into the air traveling down stream to the town of Northport. Other WA agencies were aware of the health issues that plagued over 3 generations of the residents of Northport, but they did nothing.

Not John Roland, with the WA Department of Ecology. He reached out to me directly. He came to visit my family and the community in Northport in 2008. And ever since that first meeting I knew I had meant a man with integrity, courage, and true grit.

His countless accomplishments are too long to list, not to mention how he went above and beyond to ensure the community of Northport would not be forgotten, and he would see to it we would finally be protected.

All the research, testing, and publications of his work gave us a fighting chance. Of all the different government employees I have worked with over the years, John was the first, and one of the only employees, who saw us as people.

People he went to great lengths to help. He started as a godsend, then he became an acquaintance, then a friend, but most importantly, he became my mentor. I hope I can make him proud some day.

John, you did so much for our community, you were our champion, you were our friend, and you will be greatly missed.

Jamie Paparich
The Northport Project

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