Barry Tindall was born June 29, 1939, in the village of Edinburg, West Windsor Township, Mercer County, New Jersey. Edinburg was, and remains, a crossroads village of about 100 residents. Barry’s early education was at a local small township school at Dutch Neck, NJ. He graduated from Princeton High School in 1957 and immediately enlisted in the United States Air Force. He trained as a fire fighter with service at Elgin AFB and later served overseas for nearly three years in the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing stationed in Woodbridge, Suffolk County, England.
Upon completion of his military service in 1961, he attended Paul Smith’s College of Arts and Sciences (now College of the Adirondacks). In 1963 he earned an associate degree in forestry and began working for the USDA Forest Service as a watershed research assistant in the Angeles National Forest, Glendora, California.
In the fall of 1963, with his research assistant’s service complete, he joined a civil engineering firm in New Jersey where he did did research and boundary surveys for the New Jersey State Parks and Forests. With memories of his childhood activities at the local park and the personal belief that public parks and recreation activities were very important to all communities, he resumed his academic studies in 1965 at North Carolina State University earning a BS degree in Park and Recreation Administration (1967). As an undergraduate, he served as the first NCSU intern at Olgebay Park, the flagship park of the Wheeling West Virginia Park Commission, and was also elected as president of Rho Phi Alpha, the professional honorary society at the university. He continued his studies while employed by NRPA and earned a master of arts degree in Urban and Regional Planning at George Washington University, Washington, D. C, (1973). He also earned certificates in landscape design and horticulture from the Graduate School, United States Department of Agriculture. Later, as a volunteer instructor with this school, he taught for several years a course on The Politics of Conservation.
His major contributions to the park and recreation field began when he joined the staff of the National Recreation and Park Association in January 1967. Here he initially served as the project coordinator for the American Park and Recreation Society and staff liaison to the Armed Forces Recreation Society. He planned and convened numerous professional and technical training events and for the first time in the history of NRPA, invited federal agencies and private groups to collaborate in the training and education activities for the various branches of NRPA. Noteworthy were the joint workshops that he initiated with the National Park Service on environmental interpretation. Because of his leadership in designing these workshops, he was selected as the editorial advisor for a “cutting-edge book” concerning the environmental challenges affecting public park and recreation activities and resources.
This book, Islands of Hope: Parks and Recreation in Environmental Crisis (William E. Brown, 1970) became “must” reading by all professionals and concerned citizens involved in public parks and recreation. Over 4,000 copies were printed and distributed. It was during this time that he planned and convened the first Federal Aid Institute, sponsored by NRPA. Initially this Institute was held in Washington, D. C. and later became an annual event at the NRPA National Congress. Additionally, from 1970 through 1973 he served as the executive secretary for the annual National Conference on State Parks.
In 1975, Barry was named the Director of Public Policy, a key and influential staff position in which he represented NRPA membership interests before the U.S. Congress, federal executive agencies, and allied private groups. Barry’s professional acumen, extensive knowledge of the benefits of public parks and recreation, coupled with his outgoing and friendly personality opened many doors to congressional leaders who became advocates for legislation involving support for local, state, and national recreation and park programs and projects. Noteworthy was the continued annual appropriations for the national Land and Water Conservation Fund during Barry’s entire tenure with NRPA. Other national legislative issues he championed included restoration of urban parks and facilities, the transfer of federal surplus lands to state and local agencies, and the transfer of reclaimed toxic sites to local park and recreation agencies. He led the charge to obtain legislative support for inclusion of recreation objectives in clean water strategies, and greater involvement of recreation entities in the USDA summer school food programs. He also pushed for gender equity in access to local recreation services and sites, inclusion of recreation services for children and youth in high-risk environments, and inclusion of recreation in public health strategies. He carried the banner for NRPA in the Association’s fight for conservation of abandoned rail rights-of-way for local and state recreation activities and development of recreation trails as a part of federal transportation programs.
As Director of Public Policy, he served as staff liaison to the NRPA Board of Trustees’ National Policy Committee and National Issues Action Committee, the latter representative of all NRPA regions and societies. His professional leadership prevailed in working with these committees to such a degree that during his tenure NRPA became very successful in being recognized as the foremost influential organization in working with U.S. Congressional members overseeing appropriation policies for public parks and recreation. He directed research and served as director, executive editor and consultant on several special assessments and reports designed to reinforce NRPA’s national advocacy for public parks and recreation and concurrently assisted state affiliate actions. These assessments and reports included guidance to local agencies serving children and youth in high-risk environments, agency preparation in emergency situations, inclusion of recreation in public health, and recreation’s impact on the environment.
For more than 30 years, Barry coordinated all of NRPA’s international activities, including NRPA’s hosting of the International Federation of Park and Recreation Administration’s International Livable Communities 2000 Competition held in Washington, D. C. He developed a series of bilateral exchange protocols between NRPA and allied national organizations in New Zealand, Canada, England, Australia, Japan, and Columbia. These agreements provided guidelines for sharing cultures and best practices in the field of parks and recreation. As a result of Barry’s vision and hard work, NRPA today enjoys a lasting and rewarding relationship with citizens and professionals involved in the public park and recreation field in each of these countries.
Barry’s expertise in public parks and recreation led to his being loaned out by NRPA to help with several important studies related to the mission and goals of NRPA. He was used as a consultant to The Nature Conservancy in their study on the status of public natural area protection. The final report he helped prepare, titled The Preservation of Natural Diversity: A Survey and Recommendations, had a marked influence on objectives and strategies for the Conservancy to follow. Also on leave from NRPA, he served in 1985 as Associate Director for State and Local Systems with the President’s Commission On Americans Outdoors. He served as the commission’s liaison to state governors and guided the research on state and local policies involving structure, finances and capital needs of park and recreation systems. This research was designed to strengthen executive and congressional support for partnership programs.
His work with NRPA has been recognized by many organizations and agencies. One in particular stands out. In 1992, he received the United States Department of Interior’s Public Service Award for exemplary contributions to that agency’s mission.
Barry’s long-term service (1967-2005) with NRPA contributed greatly to the valuable professional relationships that all members of NRPA enjoy within and outside of the organization, including the international arena. The networks with community leaders, the U.S. Congress and local government authorities that he established along with his political insights were profound in charting NRPA’s mission over the many years that Barry served. His legacy remains a driving force within NRPA for continued success of the public park and recreation movement in the 21st century.
Barry is married to the former Sara Jane Garver. They reside in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County, Virginia, and are the parents of two children and three grandchildren. Since retirement, Barry has continued to be involved with public parks and recreation. Most recently he served a co-editor with Dr. Charles E. Hartsoe and Dr. Roger A. Lancaster on a book entitled The History of the National Recreation and Park Association, 1898 -2002. Published in 2013 by the National Recreation Foundation and Sagamore Publishing, it is now available to the public.
He serves the local community as a volunteer tutor to young students in grades 9-12 in the Washington, D. C. public school system. This tutor program is the oldest in the city of Washington and is sponsored by the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church Community Club. Barry is also involved in the church’s program to feed and clothe homeless adults. The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church is the church that President Lincoln attended during his entire presidency. He is also the author of a biography published in 2011 titled, Letters From My Uncle: Cpl. Allan Croshaw and the Making of the 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion.