Remembering Randy MacDonald

By Jeff Morris, Shoshana Hebshi and Deb Sally
Redwood Chapter

It is with heavy hearts that we announce that our dear friend and stalwart climate warrior, Randy MacDonald, died on Oct. 6.

Randy leapt into an active volunteer role as a member of Redwood Chapter’s Executive Committee in January 2018. He arrived with a great burst of energy to invigorate the Mendocino Group, his local group, and he soon created and co-led the Climate and Energy Committee. That affiliated spawned a leadership role in the Climate Protectors program.

Redwood Chapter Chair Victoria Brandon praised Randy’s work in Mendocino County and beyond. “Randy’s combination of passion for the natural world, commitment to fending off the climate crisis, and sheer competence brought inestimable value to Redwood Chapter. His loss leaves a big hole indeed, in our work and even more in our hearts.”

His friend, Deb Sally, a Redwood Chapter activist from Lake County, said: “He was already a bit of a legend in the north coast activism ranks. As a longtime volunteer fireman he spoke with a particularly resonant voice.” 

Randy lived in rural Mendocino County near Comptche. He considered himself and his wife, Janis, “stewards of 50 forested acres in the Mendocino Coast Range,” where there is a conservation easement on the parcel, and he sat on the conservancy board. He planted and managed more than 2,500 redwood seedlings on his land.

In 2018 he said: “Living amidst a redwood forest in the coast range, I see and sense these unique trees daily.  We're not far from Montgomery Woods State Reserve, where some of Earth's largest redwood trees reside.  It's fun to visit there, look up and gasp at the majesty of these massive beings. I'm inspired by the potential of redwood forests as natural carbon sequestration sinks, and I feel that restoring our forestlands, which are so very efficient at absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide, should be high on the public agenda of ways to fight climate change.”

After Donald Trump was elected president, Randy said he “immediately knew I needed to use my new-found free time to work for positive change” and focused his energy on “becoming a climate advocate.” He sat on the steering committee of the Citizens' Climate Lobby's Santa Rosa Chapter and believed that he needed to work tirelessly on climate action while he still had breath in his body.

Randy joined Citizen’s Climate Lobby in December of 2016 and immediately became active campaigning for a national carbon fee and dividend. In June of 2017 he went to Washington DC with ten folks from the Santa Rosa Chapter to walk the halls of Congress and lobby for strong climate policy. In the following years the group shared wonderful moments together working to promote strong local and national climate policies. He will be missed dearly.

Randy made a special effort to meet up with volunteers for Climate Action Mendocino at the auction for the Redwood Valley fire victims at the Fairgrounds in Ukiah back in 2017. He was always there for any climate work that needed doing and even signed up to be one of the members of the Mendocino County Climate Action Advisory Committee.  He shared a lot of regional climate action and was always there to lend a hand and offer his valuable wisdom. Randy was an inspiration to many of us in Climate Action Mendocino with plenty of insights and encouragement for our work. We hope he will continue to influence us here on Earth to continue with strong action on climate change resulting in a more livable planet.

Randy was also a vocal supporter of Rep. Jared Huffman’s Mountains and Rivers bill and of the representative, in general, according to Sally. He spoke to community groups and held fundraisers to keep Huffman in office and promote this bill and the rest of the congressman’s environmental agenda, she said. 

Randy’s history with the Sierra Club began early with distinct memories as far back as when he was 8 years old on a Sierra Club outing making the visceral connection (using his “Sierra Cup”) with a natural soda water spring.  Through his grandparent’s and parent’s influence (they were all Sierra Club members), Randy’s environmental ethic was established early.

In an introduction he wrote to the ExCom, he said he grew up in a Sierra Club family, who went on a lot of camping and backpacking trips, where he “leaned to apply and appreciate Club values first-hand out in the natural world.”

Most recently, Randy was a fierce advocate for climate action, grassroots and globally, and was one of the key architects of the Climate Protectors program (   He was also a strong supporter of Congressman Jared Huffman’s public lands legislation ( which, with Randy’s help, has passed the House of Representatives three times within the last few years and is now being considered in the U.S. Senate under the sponsorship of U.S. Senator Alex Padilla. 

Randy also gave many volunteer hours and energy to the Santa Rosa Chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby, Climate Action Mendocino. In June 2017 he went to Washington DC with members of Santa Rosa Citizens Climate Lobby Chapter to walk the halls of Congress and lobby for strong climate policy. 

Deb Sally remembers her friend here:

“Randy MacDonald was a good friend and an inspiration to me I met Randy when he brought his very moving talk about the perils of climate change to the Lake Group general meeting as a Citizens' Climate Lobby speaker in September of 2017. He did 3 more of these presentations in Lake County, at my request, and helped the Lake Group make its showing of The Wild and Scenic Film Festival a success. I learned so much about how to relate some difficult information to people who often did not want to hear it. His enthusiasm got me involved in the Sonoma chapter of the Citizens' Climate Lobby and of course, our own Climate Protectors board. He and his wife, Janis, were fun to table with at events. I will miss the lively visits with both of them. I will also miss getting to see him on our Chapter Executive Committee Zoom meetings and hearing about the work he has been doing for trees, mountains, and rivers in Northern California. I know he wished he had more time to devote to the work of the Redwood Chapter. I will do what I can to help keep Climate Protectors going for him and the Chapter, and hope some of you will join me. “

Shirley Johnson, a member of the Redwood Chapter and Sonoma Group executive committees, who worked with Randy on the Climate and Energy Committee, said: “Losing Randy took my breath away. It seems so unfair to lose such a champion Sierra Club member, gracious team player, active citizen, and all around good man. I first met Randy in March 2018 to talk about collaboration on the Chapter Climate and Energy committee. My first impression was, what a well mannered, high energy man! I knew he would be a person that I'd enjoy working with. I was not wrong, these past few years have been good. Randy spearheaded the Climate Protectors network through the Chapter Climate and Energy. He chaired the CP meetings until recently because of life/work obligations. He kept our group together through these difficult times, and handled conflict like a true statesman, and that is a valuable quality. He will be missed beyond measure.” 

In addition to his environmental work, Randy was also an entrepreneur, volunteer fire fighter and, while he lived in Oregon, a local elected official, in addition to being a devoted husband who valued his family relationships.  He was a true Renaissance man with a wonderful personality and optimistic vision for the future.

The Redwood Chapter, on behalf of the entire Sierra Club, sends our heartfelt condolences out to Randy’s family and friends. His great sense of humor, stalwart advocacy for the environment and commitment to future generations are traits we should all carry forward. 

Safe travels, dear friend.