Parker Westbrook, Arkansas's great preservationist, dies at 89 | Arkansas Blog

Friday, November 20, 2015

Parker Westbrook, Arkansas's great preservationist, dies at 89

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 12:45 PM

click to enlarge PARKER WESTBROOK
  • PARKER WESTBROOK
Parker L. Westbrook, the pre-eminent Arkansas preservationist, died Thursday. He was 89. Latimer Funeral Home in Nashville will be handling arrangements. A memorial service is planned Dec. 1..

For all his political work and the credits he earned for historic preservation, I wrote the headline with another, smaller achievement in mind: His dogged defense of the proper way to form the plural of Arkansas — Arkansas's. He pushed a legislative resolution endorsing this proper formation of possessive for words that end in a silent "s." Steve Barnes wrote of Westbrook's campaign for the 's in the New York Times. The proper practice is ignored by the state's largest newspaper, captive of an erroneous style manual.

Here's a tribute from Preserve Arkansas to Westbrook by its president, Dr. Jamie C. Brandon:

Yesterday afternoon, Thursday, November 19, 2015, Parker Westbrook-the founding President of this organization—passed away.

If you ever met Parker Westbrook you know that he was an Arkansan through and through with roots deep in southwest Arkansas. His home in Nashville and Washington, Arkansas was very dear to him.

Robert McCord said in the Arkansas Times that he had "worked for more federal politicians than any other person in Arkansas." It was clear, however, that among those politicians it was Senator William J. Fulbright and Governor David Pryor he was the proudest of having served.

Westbrook was front and center for the formation of most of the infrastructure of Arkansas's historic preservation movement. Aside from being the founding President of the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas, now called Preserve Arkansas, he was a founding board member-or at least a board member—of virtually every historic preservation body in the state. This list includes the Pioneer Washington Foundation (the oldest historic preservation organization in the state), the Department of Arkansas Heritage Advisory Board the Main Street Arkansas Advisory Board, HistoricArkansas Museum Commission, the Arkansas State Capitol Association, and the Arkansas StateReview Board for Historic Preservation which he served on from its founding in 1975 until his death (with the exception of 5 years between 2002-2007). Parker was inducted to the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism's Hall of Fame in 2007 in recognition for all his hard work promoting heritage tourism in Arkansas.

Westbrook was a presence in historic preservation on the national stage as well. He served on the President's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation during the Clinton administration, was named Chairman of the NPS Committee on National Historic Landmarks and was an Advisor to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In 2001 Parker received a Preservation Honor Award from the Trust which acknowledged him as a "National Treasure."

On a personal note, I've known Parker Westbrook since the 1990s and I served on the State Review Board for Historic Preservation with him for the last 5 years. I was always grateful for his support of my archeological work at Historic Washington State Park and he was always been a wonderful source of institutional knowledge and history for me. He had a way of working his ideas into your consciousness and whenever I use the possessive form of Arkansas or talk about the "mother counties" of the state, or counties with two county seats, I will think of Parker. I am proud to serve as the current president of an organization that he made possible. Historic preservation in Arkansas would not be what it is if it were not for Parker Westbrook, and it will not be the same with out him.

Preserve Arkansas's lifetime achievement award is named after Parker Westbrook. At this year's Arkansas Preservation Awards on January 15, 2016 we will pay tribute to the man after which the award is named.

Members and friends of Preserve Arkansas are invited to join us in this celebration of Parker and his legacy. Memorial donations can also be made to the fund established by Parker and held by the Arkansas Community Foundation (ARCF). Contributions can be made to ARCF with the memo Parker Westbrook Endowment.

Dr. Jamie C. Brandon
President, Preserve Arkansas
Research Station Archeologist, Arkansas Archeological Survey

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