David W. Spirtes


Posted: Friday, April 23, 2004

Former Southeast Alaska resident David W. Spirtes, 55, died from complications related to kidney and lung cancer on April 15, 2004, in New York.

He was born Dec. 14, 1948. He was a 1970 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. He spent many years in Northwest and Southeast Alaska as a park ranger and park superintendent for the National Park Service. He moved to New York in 2003 to serve as superintendent of Fire Island National Seashore. Prior to leaving for New York, he served nine years in Northwest Alaska, first as superintendent of Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and later of Western Arctic National Parklands in Kotzebue, where he oversaw operations in National Park Service units totaling 11.7 million acres. Earlier in his career, he had worked as a seasonal ranger at Katmai National Park and as chief ranger at Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. He spent his entire adult life in public service, working more than 30 years with the National Park Service. His NPS career began at White Sands National Monument and took him to Grand Canyon, Everglades, Glacier, Gulf Islands, Yellowstone, Glacier Bay and North Cascades national parks. Prior to joining the National Park Service, he served in Vietnam as a pathfinder and infantryman with the 101st Airborne Division, United States Army.

His friends remember him as a passionate advocate of Alaska's national parks who worked tirelessly to involve local communities in park management issues such as wilderness and subsistence opportunities. He was a strong supporter of the Beringian Heritage International Park program, which brought together Russian and American researchers, Native groups and communities in Siberia and Northwest Alaska. Spirtes was honored with the Secretary of Interior's Meritorious Service Award in 2000.

He is survived by his wife, Kathy, and young daughter, Alexandra.

Private services were held Monday, April 19, in New York. The family suggests memorials be sent to the National Park Foundation's Fund for Western Arctic National Parklands, P.O. Box 1029, Kotzebue, AK 99752.

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