Jack is the immediate past chair of the board of trustees. He retired in 2011 as associate editor of The Charlotte Observer after nearly 40 years in North Carolina journalism. He served in the Army, was Washington correspondent for the Greensboro Daily News, Roanoke Times and Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, was editor of North Carolina Insight magazine and was a member of the editorial board of the Observer, where he wrote daily editorials and blogposts and a weekly column. Jack was inducted into the N.C. Journalism Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. He and his wife, Martha, live a few miles east of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, Virginia, where he writes the Rocky Knob Blog. He also writes magazine articles and provides editorial services at Rocky Knob Writery LLC.
Nearly half a century ago I fell in love with the Blue Ridge Parkway as an astonished 10-year-old riding up the Scenic in my parents’ old Nash Rambler. We stayed at the lodge at Doughton Park, spent a couple of nights at the Rocky Knob Housekeeping Cabins and stopped at scores of stunning overlooks in North Carolina and Virginia. For a boy from the summer heats of the middle Piedmont, the mountain breezes, clear vistas and cool fog of the early mornings in the Blue Ridge made for unforgettable memories. I had never known the pleasures of needing a jacket on a summer evening as my sister and I played in the mists on the meadows below Bluffs Lodge.
I live a few miles from the Parkway now, and I’m saddened that some of those facilities are shuttered, the overlooks overgrown and budgets insufficient to meet all the Parkway’s needs. The good news is that the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, working with the National Park Service, other nonprofit groups and individuals, has made a huge impact on the backlog of maintenance and the need for new facilities and upgrades of old ones. Today, the 469-mile route continues to attract more visitors than nearly every other national park.
Since its creation, this Foundation has spent more than $10 million on the Parkway. I’m excited about the opportunities ahead to continue polishing one of the brightest gems in our National Park System–the incomparable Blue Ridge Parkway.