Paul and Ruth Illg

Places associated with special experiences often assume a sacred quality in our lives.  If the setting also happens to be exceptionally beautiful and we have the luck to revisit such a location over the course of many years, the effect can be profound. For the Illg family, the land near Eagle Point, in southwestern San Juan Island, is such a place.  For over four decades, they have owned, shared, cared for, and learned from the grassy knolls, rock outcrops, and the small pocket beach that characterize the property.

Paul and Ruth Illg purchased the land in the early 1950s, after Paul’s appointment to the University of Washington Zoology faculty brought them to Seattle and the Friday Harbor Labs.  The zoological and botanical appeal of the property, as well as its exposed inter-tidal habitat, sheltered beach, and dramatic beauty, is an idyllic setting for family and visiting scientists, alike.

Committed to minimum impact, and in keeping with a desire for simplicity and self-sufficiency, Ruth Illg designed the small cabin that has been the nucleus of “Illg Beach” over the years. Though Paul passed away in 1998 and Ruth in 2002, the spirit of stewardship continues with their three children who care for this exceptional land through a life estate in partnership with the Trust.

“The decision to place a Conservation Easement on the land, and subsequently to donate it to the Trust, was consistent with our belief that we are only really temporary guardians of any land,” explained Paul and Ruth’s daughter, Liz.  “My siblings and I value the property for our forty years of memories and the refuge it provides. Our trusteeship would have been limited to our lifetimes if we hadn’t made this choice, and since there will be no more Illgs after this generation, we are confident our intentions will be carried on by the Trust.”

From our Winter 2002 Newsletter