J.B. Bryson, 61, was in a training session Saturday night near Pilchuck Falls, when he and other volunteers responded to the emergency, his children told KIRO-TV in Seattle. The falls are south of Sedro-Woolley, Wash., and about 60 miles north of Seattle.
"The idea of being able to be outside and be an outdoorsman and also helping and making a difference in a clear and direct way was important to him," said Kelli Bowden, Bryson's daughter.
Authorities said the hiker, 25, and his companion were trying to climb up the waterfall after getting separated from their group. The companion clung to a tree and was rescued.
The bodies were recovered Sunday.
Bryson spent 30 years with the U.S. Postal Service, finishing his career as postmaster in La Conner, a small town on Swinomish Sound in Skagit County. More recently, he worked as a real estate agent in Sedro-Woolley.