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Ralph C. Wilson

1910 - 2004

Inducted October 2009

 "Ralph Wilson was NRPA Personified. If anyone ever believed in NRPA it was Ralph."
~John H. Davis

Ralph C. Wilson was the Chief Recreation Specialist for the Soil Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., from 1964 until his death in 1985.

A native of Oklahoma, Mr. Wilson was a graduate of Colorado College, BA, MA and did additional graduate work at the  University of Oklahoma. In addition to serving as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II and the Korean conflict, he acquired a rich and varied background in the field of recreation and parks. Included were such diverse experiences as playground director and athletic supervisor in Colorado; school and community recreation supervisor in the State of Washington; municipal and county recreation and park administrator in California and Virginia; recreation director at the National Leprosarium (U.S. Public Health Service Hospital) in Louisiana; recreation consultant for the State of Washington; command recreation director for the U.S. Air Force in Europe, North Africa, and the Near East; and his last position as Chief Recreation Specialist for the U.S. Soil Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC. 

Mr. Wilson was active in a number of international, national, state and local professional, civic, and service organizations. He was an elected charter member of the Board of Trustees of the National Recreation and Park Association and served two full terms (6 years) on the Board, as well as president of the Association's largest  professional branch, the American Park and Recreation Society  (1967-68), and as president of the overall Association in 1972-73. He was a member and chairman of numerous NRPA committees,  including chairman of the International Relations Committee and  chairman of the special NRP A Goals Committee. He also served on the National Task Force on Recreation and was a member of both the NRP A Search Committee and Goals Implementation Committee. He was the U.S. representative on the Commission, the governing body of the International Federation of Park and Recreation Administration, and for many years was a member of the  International Professional Advisory Committee of the World Leisure and Recreation Association. 

Dr. Jackson M. Anderson, Ted B. Flickinger, and Ralph C. Wilson judge applicants for the 1979 Gold Medal for Parks and Recreation Administration

Among Mr. Wilson's honors were the first "Coveted Merit Award" from the California Park and Recreation Society; first 
Presidential Citation Award and Honorary Lifetime Membership from the European Recreation Society (which he helped found and served as its first president); "Fellow" award from the Virginia Recreation and Park Society; "Fellow" award from the American Recreation Society; the first Award of Merit and recognition as a "Distinguished Fellow'', highest honor of the American Park and Recreation Society. He was elected to honorary membership in numerous organizations both in this country and overseas, and was cited for his efforts in fostering better German-American relations and understanding during the years he resided in Germany. He helped found, and was an honorary member of the New Zealand Recreation Society. 


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