Ethel Dickey Galvin, a Baltimore native with a cowgirl sensibility and a love of the West, died Monday of breast cancer at her home in Winthrop, Wash. She was 53.
Known by everyone as Dickey, Ms. Galvin worked as a certified public accountant, but her great passion was for animals and the outdoors. She loved loading up her three horses and heading miles into the mountains for trips that lasted up to a week, said a friend Lucy Reid of Carlton, Wash. She also enjoyed herding cows and riding down ravines and through thick brush to drive cattle from the open range for the winter.
Gentle and funny, Ms. Galvin was also a late-blooming daredevil and would sometimes hike two or three miles uphill to go sledding in winter. "She treated it like a luge run," said Ms. Reid, a friend of 25 years. "If it wasn't long enough and steep enough, it wasn't fast enough. ... It was the place she took risks." Once, she encountered a mountain lion, when she was out sledding alone.
The outdoors gave her a sense of freedom, said her mother, Ethel Wagandt Galvin of Baltimore. "She was pretty gutsy."
Ms. Galvin graduated from Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore and from Goucher College, where she studied economics. She worked for a veterinarian and mucked stables at Pimlico Race Course until the West called.
In 1981, she loaded her Volkswagen and drove across the country with her dog to live on her aunt's ranch in Winthrop, a tiny town wedged between a national forest, Cascades National Park, the Sawtooth Wilderness and the Pasayten Wilderness. After receiving an accounting degree from Seattle University, she went to work at a small accounting firm.
Ms. Galvin was diagnosed with cancer in 1992. She had a mastectomy and lived cancer-free for a decade until the disease returned two years ago. Ms. Reid arranged for a dozen friends to take turns caring for her around the clock for the last two weeks of her life.
"I had two days to arrange 24-hours-a-day care. I didn't know if I could do it, and the people here made it possible," Ms. Reid said. "A lot of people cared about her."
The family will hold a private burial.
In addition to her mother, she is survived by her companion of 14 years, Jerry Sullivan Jr. of Winthrop; and a brother, Thomas K. Galvin III of Cockeysville.