Stanley "Stan" T. Albright died peacefully on Friday, Aug. 18, in West Linn, Ore. after a long illness. He was 74.
Albright is the nephew of Horace Albright who, with Stephen Mather, founded the National Park Service (NPS) in 1916.
He followed his uncle into the Service, devoting 42 years through 10 presidents, 12 Secretaries of the Interior, and 10 NPS Directors to park operations, management and its politics.
"Stan will always be remembered as Horace's nephew," said former NPS Director George Hartzog. "Stan was a wonderful person and fully justified that inheritance."
He was born in Oakland, Calif., and grew up in the Owens Valley in Bishop.
He graduated with a biology degree from UCLA in 1958 after service in the Army during the Korean Conflict. His first job out of college was serving in a fire lookout tower strategically located on Bald Mountain in Inyo National Forest where, in his later years, he often reminded his staff about what happens to the hair on the back of one's neck when lightning is nearby.
"Stan had a storied career with the NPS," said friend, colleague and former NPS Deputy Regional Director Bob Peterson. "He served in some of the finest places on earth, breaking trail in some of the new areas for the Service."
Served at Grand Canyon
Albright worked on the ski patrol in Yosemite National Park. He was a park ranger and, later, superintendent of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. He lived in the desert southwest while managing the business and concessions management aspect of Grand Canyon National Park. He was the superintendent of Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.
By the 1970s, Albright was shepherding the planning process for new parks and land management in Alaska as the State Director.
"Stan's professionalism and dedication to the National Park System and the National Park Service were an inspiration to his friends and associates," Peterson said. "His leadership as Alaska State Director led to the successful planning and eventual establishment of the new national parks in Alaska."
Albright left Alaska to accept the donation of the magnificent valley and mountain area known as Mineral King for Sequoia National Park and served as the superintendent for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in the mid 70s.
"As I traveled the nation," said former NPS Director Ron Walker, "Stan helped me as much as anyone - he bolstered my spirits and helped me get through difficult days."
Reagan years in D.C.
Albright was summoned to Washington, D.C. in 1977 as the Associate Director for Management and Operations, working through the Reagan Administration on NPS issues as diverse as professional ranger skills, land acquisition, and concessions management.
"He would often joke how Secretary James Watt kept a sealed 'blue envelope' on the right hand corner of his desk containing Stan's resignation letter," said former NPS Director Russell Dickenson. "Those were pretty tense times for us in the NPS."
Albright returned west in time to dedicate the creation of Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada in 1987. He would serve as the Western Regional Director, stationed in the San Francisco Bay Area, for 10 tumultuous years as the park budgets flattened, the call for more parks mirroring the face of a diverse America sounded, and the California Desert Protection Act passed creating the largest park in the lower 48 Death Valley National Park, as well as Mojave National Preserve, and Joshua Tree National Park. He also developed relationships with park systems in Japan, China, and Italy, traveling to those places to sign agreements and create opportunities for rangers.
"There was no one who provided more opportunity for youth and the advancement of youth," said former park Superintendent and friend Tom Ritter, recalling how Albright always approached people from senators to those just starting out with honor and dignity.
He also recalled Albright's courage, including his stand in creating a natural resource inventory system that is now institutionalized through the Service's Natural Resource program.
"Most will never know the full impact of Stan's leadership in shaping the National Park System," said Yosemite National Park Superintendent Michael Tollefson. "He usually led from a very subtle position of suggestion that he knew would grow as soon as the seed was planted with his managers."
By 1997, after the winter flood through the Yosemite Valley, Albright determined to get his beloved Yosemite National Park back in shape. He moved to the Valley as its superintendent to begin the long planning process to rehabilitate the visitor services.
He retired in 2000, leaving the NPS with the next generation of managers he had trained. "All of us who worked closely with him cherished that time," said North Cascades National Park Superintendent Bill Paleck. "He created an atmosphere of warmth and humor; he trusted his staff; he was a skilled teacher; and he insisted on taking seriously the mission of the National Park System. It was a very rare opportunity to work for a guy like that."
He is survived by his second wife, Kris, of Bend, Ore., and his son, Sean, of Walnut Creek, Calif., and her son, Jon, of Lake Oswego, Ore.
Donations can be made to the Stanley T. Albright Scholarship at Yosemite Institute which will be used to bring under served youth to the parks, (www.yni.org) and the Willamette Falls Hospice in Oregon City, Ore.