August 15, 2012LANCASTER — Former Weeks State Park Association (WSPA) president Patricia "Pat" L. Nelson who also worked for five years at Weeks Lodge atop Mount Prospect as a guide and park manager left five percent of her estate — $27,190.32 — "to be used to increase visitor appreciation of the Weeks State Park."
"We are delighted to be a recipient under Pat Nelson's last will and testament — and such a generous gift at that," said current WSPA president Lynne Holland of Jefferson. A Bay State native, Nelson, who was an accomplished artist lived with her husband, Sid, in Lancaster for some years, served as WSPA president from 1988 to 1990.
Another former president, Dave Govatski, also of Jefferson, pointed out that Nelson's generosity followed a pattern she had established while living in Lancaster.
"Pat Nelson was devoted to Weeks State Park and worked tirelessly on its behalf, first as one of the founders of the WSPA and then later as the Park Manager," Govatski said. "She loved showing the Lodge to visitors and telling the remarkable history of John Wingate Weeks, a Lancaster native who never forgot his roots."
Former Park manager and guide Mary Sloat of Lancaster, formerly of Groveton, also recalled Nelson's dedication to Weeks State Park. "Pat Nelson worked at the Park several years before I did," Sloat recalled. "Her greatest love was caring for the mounted birds in the museum. She spent enormous amounts of time cleaning and restoring them as well as properly labeling them and placing them in glass cases. Nelson's enthusiasm for the Park was relayed to guests during her tours. She worked closely with state fire lookout watchman Ken Jordan of Whitefield of the state Division of Forests and Lands who manned the tower at this time."
Director Phil Bryce of the state Parks and Recreation Division said, "This is wonderful gift. We are very grateful that the Weeks State Park Association has additional resources to continue to provide its outstanding programs and provide support for the Park. It is especially nice to be reminded how much Weeks State Park and the work of the Association means to people."
Longtime Weeks State Park supporter and historian Iris Baird recalled that Nelson had told her about her very first visit to the Park in 1984. "Pat Nelson and a friend walked up to the Lodge, and she told me that she was horrified when she saw the bird collection for the first time! Over the next years she enlisted friends and park supporters to restore and expand the collection. I had the privilege of knowing her over these years, and it's a friendship I treasure. When she visited the Park for the first time there were no visitors there; by the time she retired, the Park had become a popular destination. Aside from her heroic efforts to bring the mounted birds back from almost certain destruction, she welcomed visitors and made their visits special."
Nelson, who was born in 1924, died on June 23, 2011, in Lake Havesu City, Arizona.