"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.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"An eye-gouging, mud-wrestling arena" in the Everglades and South Florida

By Mike Soukup

NPS Photo
Everglades National Park
 Pine Rockland
In 1990 rumor had it that Mike Finley’s replacement as Superintendent of Everglades National Park would be a mender of fences.  Those in the field always tend to read great implications into decisions from Washington, much like reading great meaning into Beatle’s album covers.   Park staffs crave a grand strategy and logic behind the selection of new superintendents.  With the selection of Bob Chandler, the rumor and strategy both proved spot on.

The Everglades and South Florida had long been an eye-gouging, mud-wrestling arena where the NPS was losing big, and the park was failing.  Superintendent Mike Finley had boldly turned up the volume and possibly turned the tide when he, Loxahatchee Refuge Manager Birkett Neely and Miami U. S. Attorney Dexter Lehtinen filed a lawsuit against the State of Florida for not forcing the Sugar Cane Industry to meet state water quality standards.   Such a major federal action was without precedent.  It also was without permission either from Washington or the White House. The state responded by hiring the best and meanest Washington law firm they could find.  The fight was on.  Finley was soon sent to Yosemite. 

Six months later, Bob and Mitzi Chandler appeared.  It seemed at first that this choice was a flagrant mismatch - they were so nice!   Once again, it was feared, Washington had neither a grand design nor a realistic reading of the situation in the field.  Or so it seemed.

Soon it became obvious that Bob Chandler was not only kind and disarmingly nice, but also very smart and analytical.  He understood both power and the process for using it to good ends.  He wasted no effort and pulled all the right levers.  He dealt with each person at his or her own level.  His approach and demeanor soon made him personally popular  - even with the state!  People wanted to be on his side, and his side was the park’s side. 

While the technical complexities made his eyes cross, whether it was parts per billion phosphorus in the water column or storm water treatment area uptake rates in the sediments, Bob knew when to trust and empower his technical team. He was steadfastly on the side of the resources.

Very soon the legal battle ended, the water quality problem was addressed, and the stage was set for the long, slow, and problematic march towards Everglades restoration.

During that time Mitzi was his chief advisor, ally and resource.  She was not, however, especially fond of South Florida and severe back issues hampered her search for its better qualities.  Soon they moved on to the Grand Canyon, but the Everglades was never quite the same again.

Mike Soukup
February 13, 2011

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