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03/05/2011

One year ago: Edgar Wayburn of the Sierra Club

March 5, 2011 |  6:00 am

Wayburn

Edgar Wayburn was a San Francisco physician who became a citizen conservationist and made a lasting impact on the nation's parks and wilderness.

"He has saved more of our wilderness than any other person alive," President Clinton said in 1999 when he presented Wayburn with the country's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

His accomplishments are staggering. He was the impetus for the establishment of Redwood National Park and pushed to create the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Point Reyes National Seashore and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, among others.

A five-term president of the Sierra Club, Wayburn was born in Georgia but traveled to California as a child with his mother, who was a California native. He settled in San Francisco to start his medical practice after serving in the Army Air Forces in World War II.

He died a year ago at age 103.

With the Sierra Club, Wayburn was known for being soft-spoken and cordial but more than willing to fight for his convictions.

"True. He was always a perfect gentleman," Nathaniel Reed, assistant secretary of Interior during the Nixon administration, told The Times in 2006 for a story marking Wayburn's 100th birthday. "But he'd cut your throat in a dime if you didn't agree with him. You could disagree with Edgar, but you had to have good rationale. If you crossed Edgar, he would roll you, eight times out of 10."

RELATED:

Obituary: Edgar Wayburn dies at 103.

Sierra Club tribute

 -- Keith Thursby

Photo: Edgar Wayburn, right, with Interior Secretary Rogers Morton in Alaska in 1971. Credit: National Parks Service

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