Retired journalist, professor, and river rafter Stephen Ponder of Sisters died unexpectedly Saturday, August 8, 2020, following complications from a lung infection and subsequent heart failure. He was 78.

Dr. Ponder was an active volunteer with the Deschutes Land Trust, Discover Your Forest and other environmental groups. An avid outdoorsman, he spent many years conquering mountain trails on foot and wilderness rivers behind the oars.

Dr. Ponder was born in Bakersfield, California, on June 30, 1942. He grew up in Wenatchee, Washington, worked his way through college as a U.S. Forest Service lookout on remote mountaintops in the North Cascades, and hiked nearly every peak within 500 miles.

During his journalism career, he reported for The Associated Press and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, among others. A graduate of the University of Washington with both bachelor’s and doctoral degrees, he taught at the University of Oregon in the School of Journalism and Communication for more than 20 years.

He rowed the Colorado River five times through the Grand Canyon, was a noted scholar of the presidency and the press, and was an award-winning teacher whose unending patience with his students’ research and writing was legendary.

Survivors include his wife of 19 years, Kathryn B. Campbell of Sisters, two sons and four grandchildren. No services are planned at this time, but donations in his honor may be directed to the Deschutes Land Trust.