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Desert Museum Vignettes

The Faces of ASDM Board Leadership

From the beginning, ASDM’s co-founders, Arthur Pack and Bill Carr demonstrated strong vision and leadership. Shortly after the Museum’s opening on Labor Day, 1952, Bill Carr began to look ahead to the Museum’s organizational and fiscal needs.

—‘the Museum had arrived at a point where it was essential to make some fundamental management and policy arrangements. Some fiscal support might soon become urgent. A formal organization and an incorporated, non-profit status were mandatory.

(It was) time to broaden the base of what was destined to become an important demonstration in outdoor education, as well as a community showpiece.

To get the ball rolling toward a Board, I solicited the help of young Bill Woodin who, willy-nilly was on the town’s social register — There were many prominent residents who had expressed interest in the Museum — did he know of any who would be willing to serve as its Trustee?’ — and so the Museum board development began.

With its first gathering in April, 1953, the ASDM Board of Directors (later Board of Trustees) read like a who’s who of Tucson’s leaders:

Photo of Arthur Pack
Arthur Pack
ASDM Co-founder
Circa 1960s

Arthur N. Pack, the co-founder and first ASDM President was one of the co-founders of the American Nature Association of Washington, D. C. and for many years Editor of Nature Magazine. In 1934, he moved to New Mexico where he founded Ghost Ranch. Then in the 1940s, he moved to Tucson, Arizona where he was one of its leading citizens as President of the YMCA, Chairman of the County Park and Recreation program, a Director of the Chamber of Commerce and an active member of many other civic and philanthropic groups.

Photo of Roy Andrews
Roy Chapman Andrews
Circa 1920s

Roy Chapman Andrews, the first Vice-President was internationally known as an author, explorer, a former Director of the American Museum in New York, Director and organizer of the American Museum Gobi Desert Expeditions, and noted paleontologist. He made his winter home in Tucson, Arizona and was one of the Museum’s leading supporters. The Roy Chapman Andrews Research Fund was established at ASDM in 1960 in his honor, and continues to this day.

Photo of Joseph Krutch
Joseph Wood Krutch & Friend
— Circa 1960s

Joseph Wood Krutch, the first Secretary-Treasurer, was one of the country's leading nature, philosophical and bibliographical authors. He was formerly Professor of English and Drama at Columbia University in New York. He was also a dramatic critic, a field naturalist, and editor of several leading journals. A Tucson resident, he served on the board for seventeen years.

Mrs. G. H. d'Autremont represented a link with Tucson’s early history and of Arizona representing the Phelps Dodge Corporation mining interests and railroad developments in the region. She was one of Arizona’s most public spirited citizens.

Mrs. Lewis W. Douglas, wife of our former Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Ms. Douglas was a foremost leader both in the East and the West in such civic enterprises as the International Red Cross where her ability as an organizer was well known.

Mrs. R.E. Ellinwood, co-publisher of the Arizona Daily Star of Tucson, was from the start a strong supporter who aided in every way to publicize the Museum’s efforts.

George W. Chambers, a newspaper executive of long experience in the Southwest, he was also a publisher in his own right. His Arizona Silhouettes Press was well known. He was a leading member of the Arizona Pioneer Historical Society and a leader in the establishment of the ‘new’ Historical Museum in Tucson.

Robert D. Morrow, Superintendent of Tucson Schools, was an outstanding Southwestern educator, who won national recognition for his work in building what was to become Tucson Unified School District.

Bill Carr wrote of them, ‘I don't know any other museum with so devoted a board. I'm most proud that I got that first board together. They took the ball and carried it.’


And so it grew — and with board development came formal organization as — “Later that year (1953), we were duly organized, ‘… a non-profit educational corporation established under the laws of the State of Arizona’ and were empowered to conduct, operate, maintain and carry on an indoor and outdoor educational institution, fostering study and evaluation of natural history … to the end that visitors to, and residents of, Arizona may obtain an understanding and rounded view of all forms of desert life … in order that the study of the natural sciences and/or resource conservation may be furthered”


The Board of Trustees continued to expand over the years with some well-known faces and the successors of those original trustees have included community leaders, scientists, writers, artists, politicians, and actors, including:

Photo of John Jameson
John Jameson - 1970

John Jameson filled many roles at the Desert Museum from 1956 to 1978. He was elected president of the board in 1962 and reelected for five additional terms. Later, he was employed by the Museum as development officer, then as chief administrative officer. Under his direction, a multi-million-dollar campaign was conducted that provided the means to expand the Museum. John, an eloquent spokesman for the Museum, was particularly fond of otters. As a surprise for his seventieth birthday, his extended family purchased a pair of them, given in his name to the Museum.

Photo of Lawrence Gould
Dr. Lawrence M. Gould
South Pole - 1969

Dr. Laurence M. Gould served as second-in-command and chief scientist on Admiral Richard E. Byrd's Antarctic Expedition, which established ‘Little America’ in 1929. Gould was a valued trustee of the Desert Museum in 1969, when he made one of his return trips to the South Pole. With him he carried ASDM's flag, designed by Sheridan Oman.

Photo of Morris Udall
Congressman Morris K. Udall
Dedication of Cat Canyon
— March 10, 1973

For three decades, Congressman Morris K. Udall served as a valued member of the ASDM advisory council and board of trustees. He was the featured — and humorous — speaker at the dedications of both the Small Cat Habitats in 1973 and the Mountain Habitat in 1986.

Photo of Amanda Blake
Amanda Blake/ Merv Larson
Dedication of Cat Canyon
— March 10, 1973

Amanda Blake, ‘Miss Kitty’ on TV’s Gunsmoke, was a strong supporter of ASDM and a member of the board of trustees. She was particularly interested in various types of wild cats and active in efforts to protect large African cat species. . For many years, she maintained a ranch in the Phoenix area focused on cheetahs and other large cats. Needless to say, ASDM’s Cat Canyon was one of ‘Miss Kitty’s’ preferred exhibits!


Photo of Kevin Bonine
Kevin E. Bonine, Ph.D. — 2016

Photo of Stephen Brigham
Stephen K. Brigham - 2016

A February, 2020 interview with Kevin E. Bonine, Phd., Chair, and Stephen K. Brigham, Vice-Chair, revealed that the spirit of strong board leadership continues. When asked about leadership and guidance for the Museum over the years, Bonine & Brigham noted the following:

It’s important to look ahead — the world is rapidly changing. But what's the role of the Museum in 20 years, in 50 years? What is it going to look like in the Tucson basin? What's the Museum going to look like on the grounds? What are going to be the Arizona-Sonora issues or the Sonoran Desert issues? It’s important that ASDM continue to remain a trusted voice as we begin to address the issues of the present and the future. The ASDM Board and its leadership will be invaluable to the Museum community and the regional community. We hope that the perspectives voiced in Bill Carr’s Pebbles in Your Shoes will continue to guide us today and in the future.

ASDM Board of Trustees — Past Presidents

1953 — 1962 Arthur Pack
1962 — 1968 John D. Jameson
1968 — 1970 Watson Smith
1970 — 1971 Dines Nelson
1971 — 1974 Watson Smith, President Pro Tem
1971 — 1974 John S. Greenway
1974 — 1976 Lloyd J. Perper
1976 — 1978 Bazy Tankersley
1978 — 1979 J. Rukin Jelks, Jr.
1979 — 1982 Richard Duffield
1982 — 1983 Stephen M. Russell
1983 — 1985 Bernard L. Fontana
1985 — 1986 David D. Cohn
1986 — 1987 Natalie Y. Davis
1987 — 1988 Ervin H. Zube
1988 — 1989 William H. Havens
1989 — 1990 Helen Fisher
1990 — 1991 D. Alan Smith
1991 — 1992 Peter L. Kresan
1992 — 1993 Daniel M. Norton
1993 — 1994 Josephine R. (Reyn) Voevodsky
1994 — 1996 Archibald M. Brown, Jr.
1997 — 1998 William W. Shaw
1998 — 1999 Stephen K. Brigham
1999 — 2001 Laura Pendleton-Miller
2001 — 2002 Laura S. Eberly
2002 — 2005 Kerstin Block
2005 — 2007 Sophia Kaluzniacki, DVM
2007 — 2009 William H. Lomicka
2009 — 2011 Patricia A. Engels
2011 — 2013 Archibald M. Brown, Jr.
2013 — 2015 David Smallhouse
2016 — 2017 William H. Lomicka
2018 — 2019 Erik Bakken
2019 — 2020 Kevin E. Bonine, PhD.

Photo Credits:

The Faces of ASDM Board Leadership vignette text and photos are extracted, in part, from Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum A Scrapbook by Peggy Pickering Larson and from ASDM archives. Quotes from Bill Carr are from Pebbles in Your Shoes, 1982. The vignette was edited by Anne C. Warner.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) Oral History Project is designed to chronicle the history of ASDM. The interviews and collected materials provide an opportunity to capture the memories of museum founders, members, staff, and guests; and to share those memories with Tucson and the conservation community at large.

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