Home Uncategorized Parker Westbrook, Arkansas preservationist, dies

Parker Westbrook, Arkansas preservationist, dies


Dr. Jamie C. Brandon
President, Preserve Arkansas
LITTLE ROCK – On Thurs., Nov.
19, Parker Westbrook – the founding
President of Preserve Arkansas –
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 Mc-
Cord 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 with
Governor Bill Clinton, 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, Historic Arkansas Museum
Commission, the Arkansas State
Capitol Association, and the Arkansas
State Review Board for Historic Preservation
which he served on from its
founding in 1975 until his death (with
the exception of five years between
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
five 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 Jan.
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. Contributions can be
made to ARCF with the memo Parker
Westbrook Endowment.

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