"We've got the whole world in our hands"

“A Clarity of Vision”

A Celebration of Life Tribute

Robert S. Chandler

was held on

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Stay tuned to watch a DVD from the afternoon long Tribute

held at King Gillette Ranch

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

For a program, contact ruthkilday@aol.com


A Clarity of Vision ~ A Brilliant Career

A Letter from the Chandler Tribute Committee

“His legacy will continue.”

Bob Chandler became our mentor and our friend. He shared his calm nature and his sly wry humor with us. He will forever be in our hearts. For those whose lives he touched in the National Park Service and our partners, his impact will continue in our professional and personal lives. His legacy will continue.

National Park Directors recognized Bob as a unique leader who could handle the challenges of new urban parks in the Santa Monica Mountains and at the Presidio of San Francisco. He was just as innovative in resolving resource problems in traditional parks where he served at Olympic, the Everglades, in the Grand Canyon., and other sites listed.

He enjoyed these challenges. He had an uncanny ability to get things done while engaging with constituents, community groups, and with his staff. All of us will miss him.

Please address your comments to Bob's family and friends. Add your memories, the lessons you learned from him, and photos or memorabilia to share with all of us. Thanks to all of you.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Remembering Bob's first foray into Los Angeles

Memories of Alice Allen

I remember that when I was new to the NPS Field Office in Los Angeles, I found in my Roladex a card for Sue Nelson, Friends of the Santa Monica Mountains and Seashore Foundation. That was my introduction to the Santa Monica Mountains.

My introduction to Bob Chandler came when he was flown into LA to be introduced to elected officials and the Secretary of the Interior's Citizens' Advisory Commission.  During the few hours he was there, he was taken on a helicopter flight over part of the mountains.  One of the things pointed out to him was the 25,000 acres of  land between Agoura and Malibu including dozens of homes that had recently burned.  That was Bob's introduction to the Santa Monica Mountains.

Bob started small.   I doubled up two of my interns to give him a desk.  We put it in corner of my store room for privacy, and he and I shared my administrative phone line.  Bill Webb, his Deputy,  was in the store room with him, using packing boxes for his desk and chair.  Bob was gracious about the awkward situation at the Field Office, but I think it was a factor in the speed with which he moved to Woodland Hills.

The plan was that the Field Office would close once the new park office was well established.  My boss in the Region asked me where I wanted to transfer.  With the entire region to choose from, I asked to become part of the SAMO staff.  It wasn't just the idea of being part of the genesis of a new park.  I was blown away by the talent, the energy and creativity of the group of people assembled in the little office on Ventura Boulevard.  And I thought Bob was one of the most fearless people I had ever met.    I wanted to learn from him.

I think Bob found adversity motivating.  I wonder how things might have turned out if James Watt had not been named Secretary of the Interior, and if he had not loudly and publicly announced his dislike for the Santa Monica Mountains. 

Bob was instructed not to make statements to the media, but he could answer questions.  Somehow the right questions always got asked. 

He could not get funding to equip a visitor center, so he got NPS to fund information facilities in the UCLA Olympic Village, which were recycled into SAMO's visitor center. 

When the Secretary of the Interior announced his intention to de-authorize SAMO, Bob called his staff together and promised us that if we all worked together, in one year the Secretary would be singing our praises.  The Gifts Catalog was created and the most impressive gift was a donation of computers for all the divisions.  That put SAMO in the technological forefront.  The Unit Citations distributed to the staff  bore the signature of James Watt. 

Bob was informed that he could no longer accept lands acquired by state funds.  The resolution to that is best explained by Joe Edmiston.

And then there was the Inspector General's audit of our land acquisition practices.  During that audit, they discovered that the park was allowing a tenant to continue to operate a movie ranch on one of our sites.  The auditors told Bob that if he wanted to accommodate filming, his staff would have to do it.  Bob  left that meeting and passed the challenge on to the first person he saw.  That was me. 

The guidelines were simple.  If there was no precedent, no one could tell you “That's not how it's done.”  If there was no roadmap, you could go in any direction.  And if you came up against a wall, you could scale it, tunnel under it or, as we did a couple of times at Paramount Ranch, blow it up!

Being part of SAMO's Creation Generation was an amazing experience.  Bob was willing to take risks, even knowing the potential consequences.  I will always cherish being part of Bob Chandler's Creation Generation in the Santa Monica Mountains.  

Alice Allen, Ventura, CA

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