Glenn Robert Fuller, a retired national park ranger who safeguarded America’s natural and historic treasures from sea to shining sea, died Tuesday of pancreatic cancer, his family said. He was 67.
Mr. Fuller, who worked as a part-time ranger at Folsom Lake while attending California State University, Sacramento, retired in 2004 after 31 years with the U.S. National Park Service. In the 1970s and 1980s, he served as a park ranger at the Cape Cod National Seashore and the Rocky Mountain and Grand Canyon national parks. He returned to California as a site manager at Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County.
An avid river rafter, he enjoyed being outdoors, meeting people and sharing his knowledge of some of the most inspiring landscapes in America. He welcomed visitors, patrolled trails and led interpretive tours. He rescued stranded hikers and drew on his background as an Army medic to treat sprained ankles and scrapes.
“He loved to share the histories and the behind-the-scenes stories about places,” former park service worker Holly Bundock said.
Mr. Fuller explored the effects of important Americans and events as superintendent of three national parks areas in the East Bay: John Muir National Historic Site, Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site and the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Monument.
He discussed the origins of the modern conservation movement on public tours of Muir’s home in Martinez. He supported stage productions of works by O’Neill, America’s only Nobel playwright, who penned his last plays in Danville. He oversaw ceremonies commemorating the 320 people – mostly African American sailors – who were killed in a 1944 ammunition explosion at Port Chicago, north of Concord, that was the worst loss of life on the U.S. mainland in World War II.
“Glenn recognized the importance of having these sites integrated with what’s going on in the surrounding community and connecting people with their history,” park service superintendent Thomas Leatherman said.
Mr. Fuller was born Sept. 1, 1946, in Van Nuys and spent his early years on his family’s chicken ranch near San Diego before moving with his father to Sacramento. After graduating from San Juan High School, he was drafted into the Army and served as a medic near Frankfurt, Germany.
He returned home to earn a business degree from CSU Sacramento in 1971. He worked as a patrol ranger for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during the construction of New Melones Dam on the Stanislaus River before joining the National Park Service.
He was an expert captain of 14-foot rafts on many Western rivers, his family and friends said. A Nevada City resident since 2007, he was an active volunteer, fundraiser and board member of the South Yuba River State Park Association.
“He just loved the outdoors, and he loved the park service,” said his wife, Bev. “He said he loved waking up every day and going to work outdoors.”
Besides his wife, Mr. Fuller is survived by his brother Donald, a retired California state park ranger.
A private memorial is planned. Memorial donations may be made to the South Yuba River State Park Association for the “Save our Bridge” fund and mailed to P.O. Box 1658, Penn Valley, Calif., 95946.
Call The Bee’s Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Davila