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National Parks Lost A Strong Advocate With the Passing of Art Allen


Art Allen, October 1, 1934-September 4, 2009. He'll be missed.

The National Park System lost a strong advocate when Arthur C. Allen passed away on Friday.

Mr. Allen followed his long and impressive career with the National Park Service by keeping the national parks in the forefront by managing a list serve that tracked the park system through news articles from across the country. He passed away in Ashveille, North Carolina, on September 4 at the age of 74 following a lengthy bout with lymphoma.

Art Allen retired from the National Park Service in 1990, after dedicating nearly three decades to a career of which he was a passionate supporter and advocate.

His long career in the National Park Service began in September 1961, when he started as a GS-5 Park Ranger on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Linville Falls, North Carolina. In March 1963, Art accepted the position of Park Naturalist at Big Bend National Park, Texas. He then went on to be the assistant chief ranger for Canyonlands National Park, Utah, in October 1964, just a month after President Lyndon Johnson dedicated the park. In 1964, Art piloted the whitewater raft that took Lady Bird Johnson, the wife of President Johnson, through Big Bend National Park's Santa Helena Canyon.

In 1966, Art was selected to attend the University of Michigan where he earned a Masters of Science degree in Natural Resources Management. After matriculation, he was transferred to the New Area Studies at National Park Service headquarters in Washington, DC. Art was a member of the planning teams that helped create or expand Biscayne Bay National Preserve in Florida; Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina; Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida; Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi; Canaveral National Seashore in Florida; Ozark National Scenic Riverway in Missouri; John F. Kennedy Birthplace National Historic Site in Massachusetts; Fort Circle Park Bicycle Trail in Washington, D.C.; Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site in New York; Carl Sandburg National Historic Site in North Carolina; Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas; Redwood National Park in California, and; Grant-Kohrs National Historic Site in Montana.

In 1970, Art began working in Harper's Ferry, West Virgina, at the newly created Interpretive Design Center. After this, he served as chief curator of the National Park Service Division of Museum Services at the agency's Harpers Ferry Center for 12 years.

In 1972, the National Park Service Historic Preservation Office sent Art and four other cultural resource people to Russia for six weeks as a part of President Nixon's Cultural Exchange Program.

Art served as Chief of Professional Resources for the Blue Ridge Parkway from June 1983, until his retirement in 1990.

Even in retirement, Art continued to perform exemplary service for the National Park Service and his former colleagues. He designed and the moderated a computer list serve that featured news stories from papers around the country that dealt with NPS and other conservation issues. In the more than five years that he ran this news service, he posted more than 35,000 articles. These stories allowed NPS employees, retirees, and other interested individuals the chance to stay current on NPS activities, controversies and personalities. It is a testimony to the list serve's importance to its readers that it continues on following his death.

Art and Peggy, his wife of 54 years, have lived in Asheville, North Carolina, since 1983. Their 54th wedding anniversary was September 4.

He was a native of Fort Worth, Texas; a Life Member of Masonic Lodge #942, AM & FM, in Fort Worth; graduated from The University of Texas at Austin; Army Veteran during The Korean Conflict stationed in Germany. During this time, he was Boy Scout Leader and Troop Master for Army dependents at the base.

In 1970, he was selected to be a member of the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild (later changed name to Southern Highland Craft Guild) Asheville, North Carolina, in the category of Glass. Art served for five years in the guild as a Board of Trustee Member for three terms, and as president for two terms.

Art has three children: Son, Ted (wife Belinda) and grandsons Morgan, Tyler and Brody of Buford, GA; Son Gary (wife Beverly) and granddaughter, Kerri of Wilmington, NC; and daughter Julee Gittemeier and grandson Haydn of Asheville.

Art was cremated at Groce Funeral Home, Asheville, NC.

Memorial donations may be sent to the Southern Highland Craft Guild Educational Endowment Fund, P. O. Box 9545, Asheville, NC, 28815.


My condolences go out ... thanks for letting us know. I know he was a contributor to this site; you can read all his contributions here - /users/art-allen .

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

Art placed enormous effort and energy into moderating the [protectnationalparks] discussion list, which was created in 2003 to support the Campaign to Protect America's Lands and under which the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR) operated. Art helped to open the discussion list to people such as myself who weren't National Park Service (NPS) retirees or long-term NPS employees, but, were very interested in NPS issues. I learned a lot and made valuable contacts for which I will be forever grateful. This was not only good for me and others like me, but, for those within the CNPSR, as well. When the [protectnationalparks] discussion list was shut down and the subsequent Parkland Watch discussion list was started up, Art carried on with his tremendous work ethic as moderator and as an advocate for openness to discussion. I will sorely miss Art.

Condolences go out from the Crater Lake Institute.

Rob Mutch
Executive Director,
Crater Lake Institute
Robert Mutch Photography

Jim Rouse (former Crater Lake NP supt. '78-'84) wanted me to pass along his condolences.

Jim: "Just saw the report of the passing of Art. How grateful I am to have shared an office working relationship with him for a year or two, and the many fine NPS policy and philosophy times spent with him. He surely made a difference and set a high standard for life after formal retirement. We spun a lot of political commentary as well."

I've been a participant in Art Allen's [email protected] and [email protected] listserves since 2003. His efforts in developing these listserves have brought many former National Park Service employees and managers in close contact with each other. He managed these two listserves as "free speech zones" but discouraged commentary that amounted to personal attacks.

Over these years, I had the privledge to have had personal correspondence with Art. I found Art to be totally dedicated to the National Park idea. He was also concerned about the need to improve and maintain high professional standards amongst NPS managers and staff.

A little-known fact few people knew about Art is that he was Edward Abbey's supervisor when Ed was stationed at Arches Natonal Monument during the early 1960's.

Some years ago, PJ Ryan, editor of "Thunderbear," conducted an outstanding interview with Art. This article can be found at

Owen Hoffman
Oak Ridge, TN 37830


Art and I were neighbors in Handley in east Fort Worth through high school and later both Uuniversity of Texas at Austin grads.  We served togther as co-Managers of the Handley High School Greyhound football squad, and later ran into one another at various museum meetings of the American Association of Museums and the Association of Science and Technology Centers.  We shared many memories of Scouting days in Troop 83-86 and Worth Ranch on the Brazos River in Palo Pinto Country.  Humanity will miss his warmth and humor and the nation is lesser without his dedicated patriotism and generosity.

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