Boyd Evison, a former superintendent at Albright Training Center in the 1970s, died Oct. 4 at age 69.
Evison, who also served as an interim superintendent at Grand Canyon National Park in 1993-94, has been called one of the greatest and most influential leaders of the modern National Park Service.
Former Grand Canyon National Park interim superintendent and former Albright Training Center superintendent Boyd Evison died Oct. 4. (Photo courtesy of Jackson Hole Guide, Jackson, Wyo.)
During his 42 years with the NPS, Evison received numerous accolades, including the Interior Department’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.
Ann Baugh, who worked as Evison’s secretary at Albright, said his time at Grand Canyon influenced countless NPS employees.
"He accomplished so much during his entire career with the National Park Service, but probably one of his greatest were at Albright because he had so many students in and out of there," Baugh said in a telephone interview from her home outside Tucson. "He touched so many lives."
Evison was called a visionary by many in the NPS.
"He was one of those people who could think outside the box before it was common to do that," Baugh said. "Boyd was always one who could see the future, he could strategize. He was incredibly intelligent and yet he never used his intelligence to put anyone down."
Evison and his wife Barbara lived at Grand Canyon with their children, Chris and Kathy. He became a big part of the local community, opening up to all residents and not just those associated with the NPS.
Baugh remembers the Sunday morning brunches staged at his home for "long course" students at Albright. Such courses involved 40 trainees who would spend eight to 10 weeks at Grand Canyon.
"Boyd and Barbara would invite the class over for breakfast on Sunday mornings," Baugh remembers. "He formed this bond with all these people. These were people who worked for him later on down the line."
Baugh said her former boss was a unique individual in many ways.
"He had a work ethic, plus a strong environmental ethic, and a moral ethic I haven’t seen in an awfully long time," she said. "He saw hundreds of people come through. I would be hard-pressed to find somebody I thought as much of as Boyd."
Evison began working seasonally with the National Park Service in 1952 as a fire control aide in Grand Teton National Park. But his first permanent jobs with the NPS came in Arizona in 1960.
Evison worked as a park ranger at Petrified Forest and then later at Lake Mead. An assignment at Hot Springs, Ark., followed before Evison was accepted into the Department of Interior’s Management Development Program in Washington, D.C.
Evison served as an interpretive planner, division chief for the Division of Environmental Projects and senior staffer to the NPS director.
In 1971, Evison became assistant superintendent at Grand Teton, then became superintendent of Saguaro National Monument and later the Albright Training Center in Grand Canyon National Park, where he influenced many generations of future employees, including current NPS Intermountain regional director Karen Wade.
In 1975 he was appointed superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina, then left in 1978 to become assistant director for park operations in Washington, D.C., and then superintendent of California’s Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park in 1980. Before taking the Sequoia-Kings job, Evison declined an offer to become NPS director.
In 1985, Evison became Alaska regional director and oversaw cleanup of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
In 1991, he served as deputy director for the Rocky Mountain region until he was asked to serve as interim superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park.
Evison served at Grand Canyon from 1993 until November 1994 while work was being done on the park’s General Management Plan.
During his time at Grand Canyon, Wade was said to be instrumental in developing a rationale for setting use numbers within the Colorado River Management Plan. He also became personally involved in the issue of air quality and soundscape management, an interest that continued as he participated after retirement in the National Parks Overflight Working Group.
Evison retired from the NPS in 1994. But in 1999, he became executive director of the Grand Teton Natural History Association, where he and his wife have lived for the past three years.
Evison is survived by his wife Barbara; son Chris and his wife Lauren; daughter Kathy and her husband Randy Katz; and two grandchildren.
Burial will be at Grand Canyon National Park’s Pioneers Cemetery on Saturday.
Memorial donations may be made to the Boyd Evison Graduate Fellowship, in care of Grand Teton Natural History Association, P.O. Box 170, Moose WY, 83012.
Cards may be sent to: Barbara Evison, in care of Randy and Kathy Katz, 615 Walden Drive, Beverly Hills CA, 90210.