July 18, 2003 - Cleveland Plain Dealer: Nepal RPCV Polly Prescott dies in Cleveland at 100

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Nepal: Peace Corps Nepal : The Peace Corps in Nepal: July 18, 2003 - Cleveland Plain Dealer: Nepal RPCV Polly Prescott dies in Cleveland at 100

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 8:38 am: Edit Post

Nepal RPCV Polly Prescott dies in Cleveland at 100

Nepal RPCV Polly Prescott dies in Cleveland at 100

Polly Prescott, 100, climbed Matterhorn, Mount Rainier

Richard M. Peery
Plain Dealer Reporter

Oberlin- In her 20s, Polly Prescott became a pioneering mountain climber and went on to conquer the Matterhorn and Mount Rainier.

In her 40s, she joined the Red Cross and served in Casa blanca, Naples and Rome dur ing World War II. In her 60s, she joined the Peace Corps and went to Nepal.

The 100-year- old adventurer died Tuesday at the Kendall of Oberlin retirement community.

Prescott was born in her family home at East 55th Street and Cedar Avenue in Cleveland. Her father was the president of Saginaw Bay Lumber Co. Her mother marched for women's suffrage.

She graduated from Hathaway Brown School in 1920 and studied geology at Vassar College. Basketball and tennis were her favorite sports before she began climbing during a field trip to study glaciation at the Bitterroot Mountains on the Montana-Idaho border and Mount Rainier in Washington.

After she received her degree in 1924, she spent much time climbing in Canada, where she was a lead climber with the Alpine Club of Canada. She advocated all-women climbing teams to counter the prevailing notion that men had to lead women through dangerous situations. Her sister, Katherine, said that in the 1930s, Prescott led the first all-woman climb of the challenging Mount Louis at Banff National Park.

She climbed and hiked in the Canadian Rockies for more than 50 seasons and was the first woman to receive the Alpine Club of Canada's Silver Rope Award for outstanding skills and leadership in mountaineering.

She considered 1938 her best season. That year she climbed the rugged Bugaboo Range in British Columbia and the Twins in Alberta's Columbia Ice Fields. She belonged to the invitational American Alpine Club of New York and the Swiss Alpine Ladies Club.

During the Depression she had to find steady work. She was a secretary at Hawken School and later was hired by former Cleveland Mayor and Secretary of War Newton D. Baker as secretary of the Foreign Affairs Council. The organization had been founded by women's groups as the Council for the Prevention of War. It is now the Cleveland Council on World Affairs.

She joined the Red Cross during the war and spent 27 months in Africa and Europe. She returned to Cleveland and worked for 16 years as the executive secretary of the Women's City Club. For a short time she was secretary to the director of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

She also was president of the Cleveland League of Women Voters and served on the boards of Alta House and Junior League.

She continued to climb after the war and returned to Europe on vacations to scale mountains in Switzerland and northern Italy. One of her favorite climbing companions was Frenchman Angelo Dimai, who was also a guide for the king of Belgium. On her last trip, in 1957, she climbed the Matterhorn and the Jungfrau in Switzerland, and she climbed in the Brenta Alps of Italy's Dolomites.

When she came back to the United States, she told an interviewer about the strenuous techniques employed to climb perpendicular cliffs.

"You've got to tackle them with the tips of your fingers and toes, leaning out from the rock," she explained.

When the team would reach the top, "Generally we just shook hands all around and admired the view," she said.

After her Peace Corps duties ended 40 years ago, Prescott remained active with the Council of World Affairs. Retired director Emory Swank said Prescott belonged to the Women's Forum and she helped arrange lectures on foreign issues until the 1990s.

She lived on Hazel Road in University Circle and later in University Heights. She attended First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland all of her life and sang in the choir for many years. In 1993, she moved from Lakewood to Oberlin with her sister and only survivor, Katherine, and friend Clara E Lucioli.

A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday in Heiser Auditorium, 600 Kendall Drive, Oberlin.

Memorial donations may be made to:

Women's City Club Foundation, 3029 Prospect Ave., Cleveland 44115;

Cleveland Council on World Affairs, 812 Huron Road, Suite 612, Cleveland 44115-1165.

Arrangements are by the Brown-Forward Funeral Home of Shaker Heights.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

dpeery@plaind.com, 216-999-4807

© 2003 The Plain Dealer. Used with permission.

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Story Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Nepal; Obituaries



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