Recipient Biography

Harthon "Spud" L. Bill

Harthon "Spud" L. Bill (1911-1986) received the Pugsley Medal in 1970 for his outstanding contributions to the National Park Service, which he joined in the late 1930s, and he served until his retirement in 1972. Bill was a conscientious and active conservationist. He dedicated his life to preserving and protecting nature and its habitat. He was trained and was a respected professional in the fields of biology, forestry, and conservation. He was a quiet but effective administrator who accomplished his objectives of preserving and protecting the land and nature he loved through persistence and teamwork.
Bill was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, attended high school there, graduated with a bachelor's degree from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1931 and completed a master's degree in forestry at Yale University in 1935. After graduating from Yale, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as a senior foreman in Grand Canyon in 1935. He later recalled:
I came to Grand Canyon with a view to spending a few months to determine whether or not we would like it. Quite a few easterners come out west and don't like it and go back to the East. We have never felt it desirable to return to the eastern United States, because we became so much a part of the West.
He later transferred from the CCC to become a ranger with the NPS in Grand Canyon, and was ultimately promoted to chief ranger there. At Grand Canyon he had the good fortune to be mentored by the park's superintendent, M.R. Tillotson (Pugsley Medal 1948), who was one of the ablest of the NPS's early administrators.
He insisted that all of us who had career ideas try all sorts of different work to obtain diversification of experience. There was opportunity to work in the office, to participate in the business affairs of the park, and to participate in interpretation. Maintenance, too, was another important area we experienced.
In 1947, Bill was appointed assistant superintendent at Mount Rainer, and in 1952 moved to a similar position in Yosemite. His brief tenure at Yosemite until 1955 was marked by his ability to put the superintendent 's orders into effect with diplomacy and an understanding of employees’ needs and problems. This skill led to his continued promotion, and from 1955 to 1960 he was assistant director of the southwest regional office in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In this role he spent much of his time in the field, which he characterized as "a great opportunity of being able to become intimately familiar with the workings of all the national parks and monuments in the southwestern area. You gradually found out where the troubles were and rather quickly. 
Bill had always wanted to lead one of the larger mountain parks in the Rockies, so in 1960, he returned to the field to become superintendent of Grand Teton. In 1963, he moved to a similar position at Glacier. His superintendent experiences reaffirmed his belief that in many parks "public relations probably stands first in the superintendent's portfolio; the community relations and the relationships between the whole park staff and the community are very much a responsibility of a superintendent to foster and to promote." His administrative skills and broad experience in the NPS led to him being posted back to Washington D.C. as assistant director of the Office of Resource Management and Visitor Participation in 1964. Subsequently, he became deputy assistant director for operations and finally, George Hartzog appointed him deputy director of the NPS in 1967, a position that he held until his retirement in 1972.
After his successful NPS career, he became director of the Long Island State Park Commission in New York (1972-75). When he retired to Arizona, Bill served as a volunteer land steward with the Arizona Nature Conservancy from 1975 to 1986; was involved with the Tucson Botanical Gardens; and was a director of the Mile High Bird Sanctuary.