Posted on December 7th, 2009 Add a comment >>
The next issue of the Adirondack Explorer will feature a tribute to Clarence Petty, who died last week at 104. Dick Beamish, the Explorer founder, wrote a long article summarizing Clarence’s eventful life. Dick had known Clarence since the early 1970s, when both worked at the Adirondack Park Agency. Our tribute also will include a selection from the popular “Questions for Clarence” column.
Meantime, you can learn more about Clarence’s life online:
Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a well-written obituary by Dennis Hevesi.
Brian Mann aired a lengthy story today on North Country Public Radio, with lots of audio clips from interviews with Clarence.
Mike Lynch published a detailed article in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise over the weekend, focusing on Clarence’s groundbreaking wilderness and rivers studies.
Posted on December 1st, 2009 6 comments Add a comment >>
I awoke this morning to learn some sad news: Clarence Petty died yesterday at his son’s home in Canton. He was 104.
Readers of the Explorer got to know Clarence well through the magazine’s “Questions for Clarence” column. He was a passionate advocate of protecting the Adirondack Park’s natural resources.
For the first few years of his childhood, Clarence lived in a cabin on Forest Preserve land on Upper Saranac Lake. His family later moved into a house in Coreys, a tiny settlement on Stony Creek Ponds. As a boy, he hunted and trapped in the neighboring woods.
Clarence graduated from Saranac Lake High School and the state College of Forestry (now the College of Environmental Science and Forestry) in Syracuse. During the Depression, he worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps. Later, he went to work for the state Conservation Department and the Adirondack Park Agency.
The APA relied on Clarence’s field work to decide which tracts in the Park should be classified as Wilderness, where motorized use is banned. Clarence also helped conduct the studies that led to the classification of rivers in the Park as Wild, Scenic, or Recreational.
In environmental circles, Clarence was a hero for his defense of wilderness–a philosophy that often put him at odds with other Adirondackers.
Clarence also was a pilot. During World War II, he flew transport missions. Later, he served as the state pilot for Governor Averell Harriman. He gave flying lessons in Canton until he was 94.
You can read about Clarence’s fascinating and productive life in The Extraordinary Adirondack Journey of Clarence Petty, a biography written by Christopher Angus and published by Syracuse University Press.
Clarence never lost his sense of humor. When he turned 104, I asked him if he celebrated. “Sure, I went to sleep,” he replied. “There’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep.”
Sleep well, Clarence.