- Arthur E. Demaray
- Cornelius Amory Pugsley Silver Medal Award, 1942
Cornelius Amory Pugsley Gold Medal Award, 1951
- Arthur E. Demaray (1887-1958) received the Pusley Silver Medal in 1942 and the Gold Medal in 1951. The Gold Medal award citation stated "for more than a third of a century with the NPS, he has displayed leadership, wisdom, and devotion to the public interest so distinguished as to earn the gratitude of the nation and recognition of the extraordinary quality of his service."
- He was born in Washington, D.C. where his father was secretary to a Minnesota Senator. The family home was in Stillwater, Minnesota. Demaray dropped out of McKinley High School in D.C. at the age of 16 to help support the family when his parents separated. He finished high school at night. Thus, Demaray began his work in the federal government in 1903 as a messenger boy with the Geological Survey in the Department of the Interior. He subsequently was employed as an apprentice draftsman with the Bureau of Reclamation in Hazan, Nevada; as a civilian draftsman with the War Department's so-called army of occupation in Cuba; the Second Army of Pacification; and as a topographic draftsman with the Geological Survey.
- When Stephen Mather was seeking an individual to head up the new office in the Interior Department with responsibility for national parks (before he was persuaded to take the job himself), he appointed Bob Marshall to the position, who previously had worked for the Geological Survey. Demaray at that time was Marshall's chief topographic draftsman at the Geological Survey, and the Geological Survey loaned him to the new national parks office when Marshall was appointed. Although Marshall quickly resigned from the position and Mather took the office, Demaray remained. When funds were appropriated for the National Park Service in 1917, Demaray transferred to the new agency.
- Demaray proved to be an extremely able, sensitive administrator thoroughly at home in the bureaucratic politics of Washington. Mather promoted him to assistant director; under Albright he became senior assistant director in charge of the NPS operations branch and with responsibility for much of the budget and congressional liaison work; Cammerer named him as his associate director; and he served Drury in the same capacity. Thus, for most of his career he was the number two person in the NPS; through the agency's formative years; during the tumultuous New Deal period; and through the difficult war time years, when he remained in Washington as the agency's point person for contact with Congress, while the headquarters office relocated to Chicago. One of his most important accomplishments in the 1930s and 1940s was to maintain good working relations with Harold Ickes during the irascible Interior secretary's 13-year regime. Demaray admired Ickes as a courageous and imaginative doer and when Ickes tore into people and projects Demaray had the ability to reason with him and restore the equilibrium. Ickes trusted Demaray.
- Demaray's competence as an administrator and political liaison enabled both Mather and Albright to leave the Washington office for long inspection trips in the west, knowing he would ensure the NPS worked smoothly in their absence. One of his frequent observations was, "If you have someone who is being a problem the reason usually is that you haven't given him enough to do. Go find a job for him." One of his contemporaries observed,
He was Acting Director a good deal of the time....Arthur Demaray was the man who brought his lunch in a paper bag and ate at his desk in case there was a telephone call from the Hill....the man who had infinite adjustability. He was always looking for a chance to give the Park Service a useful place and a good image in people's minds, unfailingly kind and honest and helpful to everybody.
Another colleague recalled:
- He was informed and decisive, a cheerful person of action. His influence in the growth of the NPS and in the developing of the character of the service and its work was tremendous and enduring. There was scarcely an existing or proposed national park, parkway, monument, historic site or recreational area in the NPS system during those years that was not importantly shaped by him....He had one of the most open, forward looking minds of anyone concerned with the parks.
In 1924, Demaray read American Commonwealh, a book which Lord Bryce the noted British observer of the US had published in which he lamented the lack of any important national park areas in the eastern US, Demaray was inspired as a result to recommend to Mather and Albright that some be acquired. As a result, Congress formed a commission to study the possibility of creating one or more national parks east of the Mississippi. From the commission's recommendations emerged Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah, and Mammoth Cave National Parks. Throughout his career he gave special attention to acquiring, developing and nurturing sites in the east. The welfare of the National Capital Parks became a special interest of his. At the same time, he also had a major responsibility for the establishment of Kings Canyon and Olympic National Parks in the West.
Because of his knowledge of all aspects of the NPS, Demaray for many years represented the NPS before the Bureau of the Budget and the Appropriations Committees of the House and Senate in presenting and justifying the agency's appropriations requests.
He was responsible for originating the organization of National Park Concessions Inc., a nonprofit corporation that provided accommodations and services at a number of areas administered by the NPS, and was a member of its board of directors from 1942 until his death. He was also, for six years, a trustee of Government Services Inc., and served as president of the corporation for two terms in 1945 and 1946.
When Drury resigned in 1951, Secretary of Interior Oscar Chapman decided to recognize Demaray's long exemplary service and outstanding record by making him director as a ceremonial farewell. It was a fitting tribute to one of the most loved and respected of the small group that brought the new agency to life. Demaray delightedly accepted the position, but limited his tenure to less than one year, after which he proceeded with his retirement at the end of 1951 after 48 years of continuous government service.
During much of his NPS career, Demaray was active in a number of other governmental roles. In 1939, he was appointed to represent the director of the NPS as a member of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and to serve as acting executive officer. In 1950 he became chairman of the Commission. He was a member of the District of Columbia Zoning Commission from 1940-1951; a member of the National Arboretum Advisory Committee; and secretary of the Washington National Monument Society. In 1927, he was decorated by the King of Sweden with the Order of Knight of Vasa. At the time of his death, the associate director of the NPS said, "No one exerted any greater influence in shaping the policies of the national parks. When the history of the Service is written, I am sure that Mr. Demaray will be listed as one of the outstanding people who have ever served the NPS."
- Hartzog, George B. Jr. (1988). Battling for the National Parks. Mt. Kisco, New York: Moyer Bell.
- Hosmer, Charles B. (1981). Preservation comes of age: from Williamsburg to the National Trust. Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia Press.
- Planning and Civic Comment (1951). Conrad L. Wirth Succeeds Arthur E. Demaray as Director of National Parks.