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Lee Jameson, Facility Manager at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore), retires on August 3, 2018 after 41 years with the National Park Service (NPS) - nearly 24 of them at the National Lakeshore. Jameson, a graduate of the University of Michigan (UM) School of Natural Resources Forestry, worked one summer for the Washington State Department of Fisheries before landing a seasonal laborer position with Sleeping Bear Dunes in 1978 restoring the Lighthouse Complex.
Lee worked four seasons for the National Lakeshore before becoming an Exhibit Specialist for the Midwest Region of the NPS in 1981. As Exhibit Specialist, Lee traveled to parks throughout the region performing preservation work on historic structures (or as Lee says, as a glorified carpenter). In 1985, Lee moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as the Buildings and Utilities Supervisor at Isle Royale National Park. In 1989, he was promoted to Facility Manager of Isle Royale. After 10 years of seasonal moves back and forth across Lake Superior, in 1994 Lee became the Facility Manager for Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area (now Cuyahoga Valley National Park), between Cleveland and Akron in northern Ohio. Finally, Lee’s career brought him full circle as he returned to Sleeping Bear Dunes in 1999 as Facility Manager, where he has been ever since.
Lee’s accomplishments in historic preservation and facilities management are many, and significant. Today, there is widespread recognition of the significance of the park’s vernacular historic landscapes and structures and an active preservation program. In addition, Lee played a lead NPS role in the construction of two much-beloved multi-use trails; the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail at Cuyahoga Valley and the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes. When asked about accomplishments, however, Lee notes that “What I have found most gratifying are seeing people who worked for me go on to mark their own significant accomplishments for the National Park Service. The NPS is a great gig; enjoyable and meaningful, and I have enjoyed helping good people move up to do great things.”
Lee recalls with particular fondness the closely knit park community that island work brought on Isle Royale, and at a smaller scale on South Manitou Island. South Manitou is particularly meaningful to Lee as he first visited as part of an undergraduate class at U of M, returned to it the following summer with his then-girlfriend Barbara Nelson, landed his first NPS job there, and proposed to Barbara on South Manitou as well.
Barbara Nelson-Jameson said yes to Lee, and with his retirement, and hers last March from the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program of the NPS, the happy couple are now plotting a long list of travel destinations, both foreign and domestic. Lee says, “I joined the Park Service because I loved to play outside, and now I will be able to do that whenever I want.” Lee and Barbara plan to keep their home in Suttons Bay, Michigan as a home base for travel and visits from friends.