The winding path of life

By: Andrew Brown

Like a river, Fay Walmsley’s life has been full of twists and turns.

Walmsley is the public information officer for Ozark National Scenic Riverways park, but she would rather be referred to as the “Chief of Interpretation.”

“We’re facilitators of ideas,” Walmsley said, referring to the National Park Service employees who educate the public.

Walmsley said her father inspired her love of history, and that their family vacations to battlefields and national parks fueled her passion.

“We climbed a lot of cannons and laid in Oregon Trail ruts,” Walmsley said.

But after graduating from college, Walmsley said she didn’t know what career to take up. That was until she saw a brochure for the park service.

Walmsley said at that moment, she knew she had to become a park employee.

That sense of purpose led her to work for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and later to volunteer as a tour guide at Mt. Rushmore National Park, all in the hope of acquiring a position in the National Park Service.

Walmsley realized her dream when she was hired at national park next to the U.S.-Mexico border. She would go on to work at other national parks, including Mammoth Cave, C & O Canal, Gulf Shore Islands and Martin Luther King National Park, and was the first permanent female park ranger at Mt. Rushmore.

“Memories are a powerful thing,” Walmsley said, as she explained why so many people return to parks.

The same can be said for Walmsley’s career.

Edited by Bridgit Bowden

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