• bible sitting next to a teapot

    Whitman Mission

    National Historic Site Washington

The Stickler Years (1965-1971): Structure and Accomplishments

 

Introduction

The Mission 66 developments not only transformed the mission's inadequate, makeshift facilities to attractive and efficient facilities," [126] but they also transformed administrative responsibilities. Superintendent Stickler said:

Now that the physical development of the Park has been completed, the interpretive and public relations programs require the most attention and emphasis. Maintenance operation and improvements of the Park grounds and facilities have become more or less routine. [127]

The 1965-1971 administration searched for ways to utilize their new facilities. Larry Dodd, curator of the Whitman College Archives and ex-park ranger, remembers a time of transition: "We were trying to understand what was needed." [128] As the staff searched for new direction, they attended to details that had thus far been overshadowed by the major construction projects. As a result, modest improvements occurred in the various divisions, beginning with the administrative organization.

 

Administrative Structure

Raymond C. Stickler entered on duty as superintendent of Whitman Mission National Historic Site in February 1965. Familiar with the area, Stickler was born in Pendleton, Oregon, and had many relatives in the Walla Walla valley. Employed by the National Park Service since 1939, except during World War II, Stickler held several administrative positions at Crater Lake National Park [129] and had served since 1951 at Olympic National Park prior to transferring to the Whitman Mission. Superintendent Stickler served in Walla Walla for five and one half years before his untimely death on July 8, 1971.

Stickler followed Kennedy's example of placing priority on public relations. His active participation in the Walla Walla Rotary, Toastmasters, and the Chamber of Commerce, and his presentations to groups like the Marcus Whitman Foundation, the Walla Walla Archaeological Society, and the Walla Walla Valley Pioneer and Historical Society, encouraged contact between the community and the mission. The superintendent no longer remained solely on the park grounds, but was free to travel and was involved with regional and community events.

A few administrative changes occurred during Superintendent Stickler's term. Edward A. Hummel became regional director in 1964, but was replaced a few years later by John A. Rutter. In 1969, the Regional Office headquarters moved from San Francisco to Seattle, where it remains today. The park's administrative structure did not change from 1965-1971. The five positions included superintendent, historian, administrative assistant, maintenance mechanic, and maintenance worker. With the ever-increasing number of seasonal rangers and laborers, the permanent staff was freer to attend training seminars and pursue projects off the park grounds. Superintendent Stickler and Historians Jensen and later Robert Olsen attended training sessions in California, Colorado, and Washington, D. C. Emphasis on efficiency and productivity resulted in weekly priority lists for interpretive and administrative work. This effort to document work progress culminated in 1971 with the Service's emphasis on "management by objectives." The new use of objectives and an enlarged staff reflect the administrative structure from 1965-1971.

 

Principal Accomplishments: 1965-1971

The projects accomplished from 1965-1971 were based on the needs outlined in the 1964 revised master plan, and on the goals outlined each year by Superintendent Stickler. Most progress occurred in the interpretive division since there was a decreasing need for research and an increasing need for varied interpretive programs. The transition from the position of "Historian" to the position of "Supervisory Park Ranger" in 1966 is an indication of this change. In contrast, the maintenance division received little attention because, as mentioned before, Superintendent Stickler felt maintenance was of a "routine" nature and required little improvement. For example, maintenance goals were not set in 1968: "It was not necessary to prescribe specific goals in this program other than to assure that the present quality of maintenance continues." [130] Therefore, an examination of Stickler's priority, interpretation, is in order.

 

Did You Know?

painting of mission with wagon in front

The Whitmans’ mission was important to early Oregon Trail travelers. Those who were sick, tired, or hungry or who needed a wagon fixed would make the side trip to the mission. Some would spend the winter with the Whitmans before continuing on to the Willamette Valley.