Recipient Biography

Daniel ]ames "Jim" Tobin, Jr.

Daniel ]ames "Jim" Tobin, Jr. (1924-1985) received the Pugsley Medal in 1979 for "his contributions to management of the National Park System as a progressive, astute and capable administrator." He was described at the presentation by former NPS director Conrad Wirth (Pugsley Medal recipient in 1947 and 1963) as "an outstanding public servant in every sense of the term." At the time of the award, he was associate director of the NPS responsible for management and operations.
Tobin was a fourth generation employee of the NPS. He was born in Sequoia National Park and named after his father who was assistant superintendent there. His grandfather had been a park ranger, and his great-grandfather a toll-taker. He was educated in the California school system and began his career with the NPS as a laborer at Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park and Death Valley National Monument during 1942.
He was a paratrooper during World War II, serving in Africa and Europe. He was awarded the Bronze Star but was injured in an exhibition jump a few days after V.E. day and received a disability discharge from the Army. Following his Army service, Tobin worked seasonally for the NPS as a park ranger in Yosemite during the summer from 1946-50, while earning a bachelor 's degree in business administration from Chico State College in 1951.
His first permanent NPS assignment was as a ranger in Hawaii National Park from January, 1951 through September, 1954. During that time Hawaii National Park received a commendation for its handling of people during two volcanic eruptions. He entered the Interior Department's sixth junior departmental training program in Washington, DC, from September, 1954 through June, 1955, and as a part of the program, took night courses at George Washington University in Public Administration.
He returned to Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park in June 1955 as a district ranger, and in January 1956 became supervisory accountant for the park, during which time he updated the accounting system for all departments.
His first superintendency came in November 1958 at Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa. Tobin was the monument's third superintendent, and he proved to be excellent at the job. His tenure at Effigy Mounds focused on making the area more accommodating to visitors, and he supervised construction of the park's visitor center. His concern for his visitors and his involvement in the community brought benefits to the monument. For example, during his first winter at Effigy Mounds, Tobin ordered that two ponds near the headquarters be shoveled to provide a safe place for area residents to ice skate.This action increased community support for the national monument and boosted its winter visitations figures tremendously.
In 1962, he was promoted to regional program coordinator for the Midwest region in Omaha, Nebraska, where he supervised the coordination of construction programs. Among the construction projects were the St. Louis Arch and earthquake repairs in Yellowstone.
In 1966, Tobin became superintendent of Dinosaur National Monument. During this time he explored the possibility of a shuttle bus for visitors at the quarry since parking was limited. In 1967, he returned to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as superintendent, and while there Tobin formulated the position of area superintendent which supervised all the national parks in Hawaii. In 1970, he was promoted to associate regional director of the western region stationed in San Francisco. During this time he promoted the proposed Redwoods National Park with Senator Scoop Jackson and played a part in settling the Yosemite "riot." He also coordinated the start of the valley bus system in Yosemite resulting in a model system for the NPS and was supportive of the start of the Yosemite Institute.
In 1972, he became superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park. In 1977, he became associate director of management and operations in Washington, DC, which was the number three job in the NPS. Tobin frequently served as acting deputy director or acting director if both the top leaders were out on other duties. He was chairman of the NPS Employee and Alumni Association.
In July 1980, Tobin became regional director of the Pacific Northwest Region in Seattle,Washington. Tobin observed, "The National Park Service is my career and my life. I have been rewarded with unit citations, cash, the Department of Interior Meritorious and Distinguished Service medals, and the Pugsley Medal " William Penn Mott (Pugsley Medals 1972, 1982, 1988), who was director of NPS at the time of Tobin's death, stated:
Jim Tobin was known throughout the parks and recreation community as a man of the highest integrity and loyalty to the conservation ethic. He was highly esteemed by his employees and admired by his peers.
Tobin was a guardian of the natural resources wherever he went -- picking up trash, or talking with senators or congressmen -- he was devoted to the idea of parks. He felt that parks were the highest and best use of taxpayers' money, and sought to use it frugally to serve the people who needed their souls renewed in the out-of-doors.
Tobin, Daniel J. "Jim ". (1958, September). Courier.