Interview With Mancel May

From the interview with Mancel May of Olympia, WA conducted by Hazel Hatfield on June 10, 2003 at the Fort Worden History Center.  Mr. May was employed by Washington State Parks Development Team as Supervisor of Concessions and Leases from 1967 to 1981.  In this role, he was management  liaison with all federal and state agencies that dealt with Parks. Mr. May died in 2009 at the age of 90.  Here he described the early development of Fort Worden as a Washington State Park:

“When we finally got the first part of the Fort—the top of the hill and the waterfront, we had just started trying to come up with a management, a development, plan for that when Governor Dan Evans turned the rest of the park over to us.  Before that time, the park had been a Diagnostic and Treatment Center for juveniles and the developed part of the park was owned in fee by the Department of Institutions; we just owned the other part.  Parks Director Charles H. Odegaard (1928-2007) wanted a management team to come up with a use plan for Fort Worden State Park.  I was on that team because of my experience dealing with concessions and leases.  We knew that if we turned it into anything, the first things we were going to have would be a food service and motel/hotel type service.  After we made the decision to go ahead and turn it into a recreation and recreational  housing project, we had to get  operators to furnish those services. We came up with a family that had the Discovery Bay Lodge and Restaurant at that time to provide food service, and we were fortunate enough to have Gus Lindquist, who had been the superintendent of the Diagnostic and Treatment Center take over the motel end of it as we put in all these services.  These people took these jobs on a gamble, because there was absolutely no assurance that this thing at that period of time would be a money making proposition.  But with their help and dedication and commitment to the Fort and the fact that we discovered there was a tremendous demand for the type of facilities we proposed to come up with for the use of Fort Worden, it all dovetailed and came together.  From there we came up with what you see today here.  It was a slow start financially.  Getting appropriations from the state legislature was a big problem year in and year out until we started making enough money that we convinced  them that this was a going concern.  Then they started being a little more liberal with us as far as finances.  I was involved completely on every phase of the management area of the park and keeping all of the feds happy with the reports and compliance requirements.  It was a personal pleasure to be involved with Fort Worden at that time.  I had the pleasure of working with the first park manager Ang Taylor who eventually wound up as Region Three supervisor, then Glen Bellerud who was here for many years and was probably the most responsible person in the entire Parks Department for the management and actual building of Fort Worden as we know it today.  His successor was Jim Farmer who also did a super job during his years as manager of the park.  So, I had the pleasure of knowing all of them, working with them, and I am just really, really proud of what we came up with.”

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