Region III Quarterly

Volume 1 - No. 2

October, 1939


The world looks to the United States for leadership in practical procedure for the establishment, maintenance, and operation of national park areas. Stephen T. Mather made it so. He envisioned, in 1917, when he became the first Director of the National Park Service, that these were areas that must forever be kept in their natural state so that our own enjoyment of them could be shared by future generations. It was because he had the courage to fight for his convictions, often in the face of organized opposition from influential commercial and political interests, that our national parks and monuments remain today the unspoiled places he insisted they must always be. He sought to promote cooperation but, when occasion demanded, he vigorously asserted the independence that typified his birth date -- July 4.

To an extraordinary degree, Mr. Mather's was an unselfish public service. This included personal contributions toward the purchase of lands that were desired for inclusion within boundaries of some of the national parks. It also included, for a time, his payment of salaries to persons outside the Government service -- persons he had employed to assist in the work he was carrying on. His previous successes in private busineses undertakings had enabled him to do this.

Mr. Mather had exceptional ability as an organizer. His enthusiasm for park ideals was infectious and he was able to interest many outstanding individuals and organizations in promoting conservation activities. His far-sightedness encompassed planning for the comfort and enjoyment of the millions of people he foresaw would annually visit the national parks. This same policy has been carried out by the succeeding two Directors of the National Park Service, Horace M. Albright, and the present Director, Arno B. Canmerer. His zealousness for the public weal eventually impaired his health and he was obliged to retire at the close of 1928. He died on January 22, 1930, at the age of 62.

Representative Louis C. Crampton of Michigan, who, as Chairman of the House Sub-committee on Interior Department Appropriations, had championed the National Park Service in Congress for ten years, sunmed up Mr. Mather's life work in an eulogy in the House of Representatives as follows:

"He laid the foundations for the National Park Service, defining and establishing the policies under which its areas shall be developed and conserved unimpaired for future generations. There will never come an end to the good that he has done."

More recently, in dedicating a plaque to Mr. Mather in Hawaii National Park, Associate Director A. E. Demaray, who had been associated with Mr. Mather from the very beginning of the National Park Service, said:

"Much has been said and much has been written about Mr. Mather since his departure from this earth ten years ago. He has been often eulogized for the good he has done, but words, spoken today and not long remembered, can never do justice to his pioneering efforts, the fruits of which are only more evident with the passing of the years."

Stephen T. Mather
First Director of the National Park Service.
"There will never come an end to the good that he has done."

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Date: 17-Nov-2005