Lois Clark McCoy

Date of Birth

October 1, 1920

Date of Death

September 19, 2016

Lois Clark McCoy served as President of the National Association for Search and Rescue. She then founded the National Institute for Urban Search and Rescue (NIUSR) and served as its president while living in Santa Barbara until her retirement in 2013. She was instrumental in causing the federal government to create fifty urban search and rescue teams, dispersed throughout the United States and on constant stand-by to respond to crises, both here at home and throughout the world. Over the years, thousands of disaster victims have been rescued by those teams. Her Institute represented the United States Government at a European Union search and rescue conference in Greece, and the concepts developed by NIUSR were adopted by nations world-wide, where teams of women, men, and dogs volunteer to do this dangerous work.

President George H.W. Bush recognized people who volunteered their time, talent, and treasure to help others, naming the program “Thousand Points of Light.” Lois was recognized as a Point of Light for her leadership, her devotion, and her amazing capacity for caring. She was brilliant, she was blazing, and she was blinding, and we loved her for that.

Lois often spoke of her youth, and especially the time spent sailing with her father on the East Coast. Born and raised in Connecticut, she graduated from Skidmore College and migrated west, where she became every bit a Californian through and through. She married Herbert Irving McCoy in La Jolla in 1943. Her children, Whitney, Kevin, Marianne, Tori, Debra, Sally, and Daniel made her proud to the point where she couldn’t have a long conversation about anything without one or more of them creeping into the dialog. She is also survived by her 12 beloved grandchildren.

Marquis Who’s Who acknowledges Lois as a recipient of the Hall Foss Outstanding Service to Search and Rescue award (1982), Diamond Safety award (1996), AFCEA Superior Performance award (2004), Senatorial Freedom medal (2004), and the U.S. Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service (2009).

Lois served as an instructor in Mountain Medicine & Survival, University of California, San Diego (1973-74), editor of Search & Rescue Magazine (1975), Rescue Magazine (1988-97), and Press On Newsletter (1992–2000). Lois was the coordinator for the San Diego Mountain Rescue Team, La Jolla, Calif. (1973-75), the disaster officer San Diego County (1980-86), and the disaster officer Santa Barbara County (1985-91).

Please join Lois’ family and friends at 11:30 am on Sunday, October 2, for a “Celebration of Life” at the outdoor amphitheater at Godric Grove in Elings Park, followed by a reception on the Grove Terrace.


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