Ralph W. Abele Conservation Heritage Award
Dr. Maurice K. Goddard
In April 1992, the Fish and Boat Commission awarded the Ralph W. Abele Conservation Heritage Award to Dr. Maurice K. Goddard for "a lifetime of service to conservation of the environment in Pennsylvania and our nation."
In response, Doc shared some of his philosophy of government and reminisced about his friendship with Ralph Abele. Doc reminded us that in government, big is not necessarily better, and he urged preservation of the Fish and Boat Commission as a small, independent agency focused on fish and boating.
"When you get yourself involved in a big conglomerate, you certainly lose stature," he concluded. Doc had always urged that the Department of Environmental Services be split into smaller, more focused agencies, and he lived to see it happen with the creation of the new Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
He reminisced that he got to know Ralph Abele during the campaigns for the Project 70 and Project 500 bond issues. He told his listeners that "with Ralph's leadership, the Fish Commission was the environmental conscience for the environment in Pennsylvania." He related that he was greatly honored to receive an award named for Ralph Abele.
Doc Goddard, Ralph Abele and Ken Sink helped form an informal group of conservation leaders known affectionately as the "OB's." They would get together at a camp and focus on the big questions of right and wrong that sometimes get obscured in the details of deadlines and daily decisions. Out of their discussions came a sense of direction and a vision for the better protection of Pennsylvania's precious resources. If the streets of heaven are paved with gold, then let's hope there's no runoff of heavy metals to the heavenly waters or Somebody up there may hear about it from the OB's: Doc, Ralph and Ken.
On September 14, 1995, Dr. Maurice K. Goddard died from injuries received in a fire at his home. He was 83 years old.
Doc Goddard's death marked the end of an era. Pennsylvania's anglers and boaters and all who love the outdoors lost a true friend. Doc Goddard was a giant of conservation in Pennsylvania. His record of selfless public service in the cause of conservation and protection of the environment is unmatched and, probably, unmatchable.
Doc Goddard served as the last Secretary of the Department of Forests and Waters (1955 - 1971) and the first Secretary of the Department of Environmental Resources (1971 - 1979). Doc Goddard's dedicated efforts on behalf of conservation touch everyone who fishes and boats in Pennsylvania. He had a vision of a network of state parks to provide outdoor recreation and enjoyment within 25 miles of every citizen in the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania's state park system, with 114 state parks, stands as a perpetual legacy of Doc Goddard and his work.
Doc Goddard was the moving force behind Pennsylvania's two great conservation bond issues: Project 70 and Project 500. Through his untiring efforts, these bond issues were approved by the voters to allocate $570 million for conservation in Pennsylvania. Much of that money was used to provide fishing and boating opportunities for present and future generations of Pennsylvanians. Odds are that every Pennsylvania angler has wetted a line in, and every Pennsylvania boater has launched a boat on, waters preserved through Doc Goddard's efforts.
Doc Goddard had a close and abiding friendship with Ralph Abele, the late executive director of the Pennsylvania Fish Commission. Ralph awarded Doc one of the first "White Hats" that the Commission awarded to the "Good Guys" in the conservation movement. When Ralph retired in May 1987, Doc returned the favor by surprising Ralph with a White Hat of his own. After Ralph's untimely death in 1990, Doc Goddard assumed a leadership role in the Ralph W. Abele Conservation Scholarship Fund. Doc came to every meeting of the board, and he led the Fund's effort to publish the collection of Ralph's "Straight Talk" columns.
We will remember Doc Goddard for his good humor, his great knowledge and his profound mission. We will remember him when we hear of the Goddard Chair at the Penn State School of Forestry or the Maurice K. Goddard State Park. We will remember him when we paddle a state park lake, fish in a stream bought with Project 70 funds and enjoy the wonders of our state forests. Doc Goddard left his mark on all who knew him and the world around him.
When Dwight Eisenhower, with whom Doc served in World War II, bought his farm at Gettysburg, he said his goal was "to leave the place better than he found it." Of Maurice Goddard it can truly be said that he left Pennsylvania better than he found it and that his dedication to conservation has been an inspiration for us all.