As time passes, legacies grow larger. As the people who forged those legacies pass, we pause to remember.
SCA lost two former and beloved crew leaders recently: Bill Brockman, who with his wife, Mary Jane, led crews in the North Cascades from 1970-1987; and Chuck Barnosky, who supervised teams at Merck Forest in Vermont at about the same time with his wife, Paula.
“Bill Brockman was an essential figure within SCA,” states SCA Founder Liz Putnam. In 1958, when the nascent SCA was searching for crew leaders, Brockman – then a ranger at Olympic National Park – recommended Jack and Enid Dolstad. That worked out so well that, 11 years later, when Liz sought someone with the qualifications and commitment to take over direction of the organization, she again turned to the Dolstads. The following summer, the Brockmans themselves entered the SCA fold as crew leaders.
“They were teachers. They loved the out of doors,” Liz recalls. “They were honest, genuine, hard-working naturalists who loved kids. They walked their talk.”
Bill died earlier this month at age 92; Mary Jane passed away last year at 89. Over nearly two decades, they supervised, instructed, encouraged, nurtured, and mentored more than 300 crew members, and maintained enduring friendships with the majority of them, says Chris Scranton, who served under the Brockmans at Olympic in 1972.
“Their enthusiasm, positive energy, and leadership had a lifelong impact on many of their participants,” says Chris. “For the past 47 years, I kept in touch with Bill and MJ visiting them at least once a year and speaking with them on the phone often.
“It is because of pioneer leaders like Bill and MJ that SCA has grown to the powerhouse of an organization it is today.”
The story – and the sentiments – are much the same for the Barnoskys. Career educators in New Jersey, they retired in the 1990s to Montana, where Paula died in April 2013. Chuck’s life came to an end almost exactly six years later.
Paul McQuade, an attorney who served on the Barnoskys’ 1974 Merck crew and who later joined the SCA board of directors, says everyone walked away from Chuck’s crews with a backpack full of memories.
“I remember him being grumpy one morning as he bear-hugged a maple tree and ascended his way 30 feet up, grousing about how much easier it was to do when he was younger,” Paul says. “That day was his birthday. The ‘ancient’ age of 38 and he was bummed about being so old.”
Paul says Chuck was “a firm rule setter but always fair” who “really cared about the kids and their experience.” Decades later, Paul, too, joined his former leaders to catch up and share new adventures.
“Chuck took me fly fishing in Montana and told some funny stories of other crews, including the ‘Abercrombie & Fitch’ crew,” he recalls. “Everyone, males and females, who got off the bus looked like magazine models. He and Paula looked at each other and accurately observed that it was going to be a challenge keeping the co-ed crew from getting too friendly.”
If you’re curious, there’s a reason why – unlike today’s norms – the early SCA crew leaders were spouses. “No one wanted two unmarried somebodies running a high school program in that day and age,” notes Liz Putnam. “Husband and wife teams were essential.”
Above all else, crew leaders are role models for the teenagers in their care. And by all accounts, Bill and Mary Jane, and Chuck and Paula, are still influencing their former crew members to this day.