Katie Lee, the singer and outdoor activist who was known for her work in the Grand Canyon and Colorado River, has passed away at the age of 98, as reported by The Verde Independent.
Lee died peacefully in her sleep on Nov. 1, according to the Arizona Daily Sun. She was affectionately known as the “Grand Dame of Dam Busting,” and worked continuously to remove the Glen Canyon Dam.
The Independent recognized Lee as “one of the Southwest’s most outspoken and beloved environmental activists and authors.”
“Lee grew up in Tucson and made a career as a folk singer and a Hollywood actress, but became attached to the Colorado River during a trip with a friend in 1953,” reported the Daily Sun. Following that trip, Lee became enamored with the canyon, particularly the Glen Canyon, before the dam and Lake Powell were created.
We're going miss the inimitable Katie Lee, the grande dame of Western singers and environmentalists, whose death was reported today at the age of 98. As a mainstay at many Mountainfilm festivals over the years, she sang, rabble roused and was featured in multiple documentary films, including "DamNation," "Wrenched" and "Kickass Katie Lee." She never relented in her battle against Glen Canyon Dam—and, we imagine, still probably never will. Photo: Katie Lee at Mountainfilm in 2014 with the DamNation crew #KatieLee #ColoradoRiver #GlenCayon @ben_knight @travisrice @gageproductions #indomitablespirit #mfilm14 #activism #environmentalist #mountainfilm #damnation
In a press release on her passing written by friend Diane Rapaport, she recalls Lee’s passion for the canyon:
“She left a torch that won’t be extinguished. She knew how to scorch with her words, whether in her books, stories, songs, or lectures. I seldom met an audience of hers that didn’t shed tears and give her a standing ovation.”
Lee published five books alongside dozens of essays, stories and music, as well as serving on the advisory board for the Glen Canyon Institute, which advocated for draining the Lake Powell Reservoir, according to the Arizona Daily Sun.