Salt Lake City, UT (Vocus) October 15, 2009
The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) inducted international parks and recreation advocate Ralph C. Wilson (Aug. 19, 1925 to May 20, 1985) into the Robert W. Crawford Recreation and Park Hall of Fame this morning during the NRPA Congress & Exposition Opening General Session at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Established in 1987, NRPA’s Crawford hall of fame recognizes individual pioneers and leaders who have made extraordinary and lasting contributions to the advancement of parks and recreation in the U.S., as well as to the mission of NRPA. It is a posthumous honor that may be presented no earlier than five years following the death of inductees, in order to assure their contributions have had a long-term impact. Wilson was unanimously selected by NRPA’s hall of fame committee in June and inducted this morning along with park and recreation pioneer Laurance S. Rockefeller. Wilson and Rockefeller joined a list of more than 30 people to have received the honor since 1987.
A native of Oklahoma, Wilson earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Oklahoma. In addition to serving in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II and the Korean conflict, Wilson acquired a rich and varied background in parks and recreation, serving in a variety of administrative positions in Colorado, Washington, California, Virginia and Louisiana. He also served as recreation director for the U.S. Air Force in Europe, North Africa and the Near East. Wilson eventually went on to become chief recreation specialist for the Soil Conservation Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1964 until his death in 1985.
Wilson was an elected charter member of the NRPA Board of Trustees, for which he served two full terms (six years). He also served as president of the association’s largest professional branch, the American Park and Recreation Society, from 1967 to 1968, and as president of NRPA from 1972 to 1973. He chaired the International Relations Committee and NRPA Goals Committee, and served as NRPA’s representative for the International Federation of Parks and Recreation Administration and the World Leisure and Recreation Association. Wilson played an instrumental role that resulted in the International Federation holding its 1989 World Congress in the U.S.
Wilson’s many honors include a Merit Award from the California Park and Recreation Society, the first Presidential Citation Award and Honorary Lifetime Membership from the European Recreation Society, Fellow awards from the Virginia Recreation and Park Society and the American Recreation Society, and the first Award of Merit and recognition as a Distinguished Fellow from the American Park and Recreation Society.
Wilson was a founding member of the Joseph Lee Memorial Library Committee, assisting in increasing the endowment that supports the preservation of both NRPA and the park and recreation field’s history and heritage. Wilson was committed to reaching higher levels of achievement and served as a role model and inspiration for others in the field. NRPA traditionally honors Wilson with a national award given in his name to an individual whose long-term service and dedication to NRPA advanced the cause of parks, recreation and conservation.
For more information on the Robert W. Crawford Recreation and Park Hall of Fame or NRPA’s individual awards programs, call Jackie Wallenstein, senior manager of region services, at (703) 858-4731, or go to http://www.nrpa.org.
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of some 21,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy lifestyles, recreation initiatives, and conservation of natural and cultural resources.
Headquartered in Ashburn, Va., NRPA works closely with local, state, and national recreation and park agencies, citizen groups and corporations to carry out its objectives. Priorities include: advocating favorable legislation and public policy; continuing education for park and recreation professionals and citizens; providing professional certification, university accreditation, research and technical assistance; and, increasing public awareness of the importance of parks and recreation. For more information, visit http://www.nrpa.org.