Philip Jean Hyde, 84, passed away from complications resulting from a stroke at 6:00 am on March 30, 2006 at the Washoe Medical Center in Reno, Nevada, four years after his beloved wife of 56 years, Ardis King Hyde, passed in March 2002. Philip was born in San Francisco in 1921. His father Leland Hyde, a painter and furniture designer, took Philip, his sister Betty, brother Davey and mother Jessie on frequent camping and backpacking trips in Yosemite and other National Parks.
Philip was a gunnery trainer in the Army Air Corp during World War II. He took the train from his base in Great Bend, Kansas to Denver just to see mountains. With his honorable discharge approaching Philip wrote to Ansel Adams to ask advice on where to attend photography school. Ansel replied that he was starting a photography department at the famous California School of Fine Arts, now the San Francisco Art institute. Joining one of the first classes in the department in 1946, Philip studied under such photographic greats as Minor White, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham and Dorthea Lange.
Philip and Ardis first came to Plumas County in 1948, when Philip took a summer job at Cheney Mill in Greenville. After photography school the young couple lived permanently in Greenville for two years, Carmel for two years and Morocco in North Africa for one year. They settled just outside Taylorsville in the progressive home that Philip designed, drafted and built himself beginning in 1956.
He helped begin the modern environmental movement as his photographs participated in more environmental campaigns than any other photographer. His images appeared in more than 70 books, 30 plus newspapers, 100 exhibitions, several TV shows and over 60 magazines helping to protect such wild places as Dinosaur National Monument, The Grand Canyon, The Coast Redwoods and many other seashores and wilderness areas of the American West. He received many awards including one for lifetime achievement from the North American Nature Photography Association (1996), the California Conservation Council’s Merit Award (1962) and the Albert Bender Fellowship (1956).
Philip lost his eyesight in 2000 and from then on relied on dreams for glimpses of the natural world he spent a lifetime defending. Outdoor Photographer called him one of the “Landscape Masters” and said that his vision “influenced the entire current generation of outdoor photographers.” He was a lifetime member of the Sierra Club and contributed to the Feather River Land Trust and 12 other environmental organizations. He was a motivated activist: He wrote many letters and magazine articles in defense of wilderness. His friends characterized him as a “mountain goat” because he climbed and hiked all over the landscape for pictures. He was also one of the founders of the Plumas County Museum. He was approachable, amiable, self-effacing, humorous and widely admired by photographers everywhere and his neighbors at home. The location of one of his well-known photographs in Moody Canyon, Utah has become known as “Hyde’s Wall.”
He is survived by his son, David Hyde, his sister Betty Hyde Hughes, and nieces Valerie Hughes and Evelyn Hughes. No funeral services will be held but a celebration of his life will be on Sunday May 28, 2006 at 2:00 pm in the woods by his home on Genesee Road.