Voices of the Bay

Keeping the East Bay Green

Arthur Parker works to preserve open space and natural beauty

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Arthur H. Parker is the first to admit his golf game is not very good. Fortunately for many organizations, he has little interest in improving it. Since retiring in 2000 from the investment firm Standish Ayer & Wood, Arthur has focused his energies on preserving open land and managing three charitable trusts.

The Brown University graduate received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and attended New York University’s business school. Arthur credits his lifelong interest in land preservation to the writings of James Fenimore Cooper, who explored themes of land versus civilization and has been called a “pioneer of the environmental movement.”

Parker serves on the Chairman’s Counsel for Blithewold Mansion and the Board of Directors for the Westport Land Conservation Trust and the Westport River Watershed Alliance. He is the manager and trustee of the Schrafft Charitable Trust and the Grimshaw-Gudewicz Charitable Foundation, both of which distribute grants and scholarships to children in need, and the Howard Foundation, which awards fellowships to early mid-career academics.

A Barrington resident for 45 years, Arthur and his wife Connie are parents to three children. He can be contacted at ArtyParker@aol.com.

Before I retired, I got involved with Save Blithewold. Preserve Rhode Island had run the property’s endowment of $1.2 million down to $2,000, and was going to sell it to the developer of Carnegie Abbey. Mary Glenn organized a group of us to raise $650,000 in about three weeks. We convinced Preserve Rhode Island not to sell and we would take it over. I became the chairman and continue to be involved.

A wonderful English teacher introduced me to James Fenimore Cooper who wrote The Last of the Mohicans. He was very worried about the United States losing this wonderful land to commercial use and forcing out Native Americans. It always stayed with me. I am fixated on saving land. America is so beautiful but once a developer gets the land, it’s gone.

Barrington is supposedly one of the nicest towns, but yet has very little open space and no real public access to water. I think it is very undemocratic. I’m involved with the Westport Land Conservation Trust, which has preserved close to 5,000 acres. We just saved 83 acres for sale by the Diocese of Fall River.

Today the average male lives to 78. Retirement is 65. What are you going to do with all that time? I wasn’t going to sit around. My golf is bad. If life has been good to you, you have to give back. —Nina Murphy