• bible sitting next to a teapot

    Whitman Mission

    National Historic Site Washington

The Kowalkowski Years (1971-1980): Structure and Accomplishments

 

Introduction

The character of the 1971-1980 administration remained similar to that of previous years. The transition from Superintendent Stickler's administration to Superintendent Kowalkowski's was smooth and uneventful. In fact, Kowalkowski concludes today that, "My contribution was maintaining what had been established." [151] While it is true that Kowalkowski maintained the accomplishments of the past, his administration was responsible for innovations in interpretation that characterize the program today. Before examining this significant contribution more thoroughly, the administrative structure deserves note.

 

Administrative Structure

Administrative changes occurred from 1971-1980 including the number of permanent staff. In addition to the superintendent, administrative clerk, supervisory park ranger, maintenance mechanic and maintenance worker, a permanent park technician was hired in 1978. The temporary staff included an information receptionist who assisted the administration, while varying numbers of seasonal rangers and laborers, usually from three to five, expanded the interpretive and maintenance divisions. Finally, volunteer and YACC-enrollees helped the staff during the busy summer months. Guidance from Seattle came from Regional Director John A. Rutter and from his successor, Regional Director Russell E. Dickenson. This staff included more women and minorities than in previous years due to new Equal Opportunity Employment requirements undertaken during this administration.

Stanley C. Kowalkowski left his superintendent position at Booker T. Washington National Monument in Virginia to accept the superintendent position at Whitman Mission, August 30, 1971. Kowalkowski worked previously at the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, at Yosemite National Park in California, and Everglades National Park in Florida. Kowalkowski retired from the National Park Service in 1980 and currently resides in Walla Walla.

 

Principal Accomplishments: 1971-1980

The maintenance program received renewed attention from 1971-1980. In 1978, Kowalkowski reported, "We believe that we are developing a sound, valid long-range cyclical maintenance program." [152] The walks were paved with exposed concrete aggregate rather than asphalt for a more asthetically pleasing look, 80 percent of the millpond bank was repaired with river rock and sand, and a new visitor center air conditioner was installed. An effort was also made to document maintenance procedures and programs. However, the majority of maintenance was limited to tending the lawns and other landscaping jobs.

In spite of these accomplishments, improving interpretation was administration's main focus. The mission's new interpretive activities called cultural demonstrations, in which rangers demonstrate pioneer and Indian skills, sparked visitor and community interest. Before transferring to Whitman Mission, Superintendent Kowalkowski developed a similar "living historical farm" program at Booker T. Washington National Monument. [153] However, when discussing his part in Whitman Mission's cultural demonstration program, Kowalkowski claims only a supportive role:

I relied heavily on the people who worked at Whitman . . . . Chief Interpreter [Larry Waldron] . . . was the person who ram rodded things, who saw to it that certain ideas were carried out. In most cases I was quite supportive . . . and we were happy with the results. [154]

Examination of this program and other important interpretive developments follow.

 

Did You Know?

Brass compass which belonged to Dr. Whitman

In the fall of 1842 Dr. Whitman decided to travel from Waiilatpu to Boston. He wanted to convince the board members to keep his mission station open. Dr. Whitman was in such a hurry when he left that he forgot his compass.