NRPA lost one of its much-loved members last month with the passing of David Lose of Nashville, Tennessee, who died unexpectedly at age 77 while on a trip to Ireland with his wife Betti. Widely known and always a little bit larger than life, he served as member of NRPA’s Board of Directors from 1997 to 1999, and chairman of the board from 2000 to 2004, during a time of great change for the association.
Lose was a landscape architect by profession who founded one of the best-known park design firms in the southeast — Lose and Associates — which now employs nearly 60 people. Founded in 1982, the business grew under his direction to offer services in landscape architecture, architecture, civil engineering and land planning. The firm has completed more than 600 park projects in planning, design, master planning and system-wide analysis, totaling more than $1 billion of work.
Lose’s longtime business partner, CEO Chris Camp, who worked with him for more than 30 years, says, “First and foremost, he was an advocate and passionate promoter of parks. He just loved parks and really believed that parks made people’s lives better.” As many who knew him remarked, he loved the outdoors and spent much of his free time hunting, fishing, kayaking and enjoying the outdoors. Marvin Billups, interim director of DeKalb County, Georgia, says Lose’s love of nature infused his park design work. “He lived it and breathed it, and it came back into his designs in many ways.”
“His service to NRPA was not work for him,” says Camp. “I remember when he was about ready to take on the chairmanship of the NRPA board he said, ‘This might take some of my time away from work,’” says Camp ruefully. “He never told me that it would be a four-year job!”
Though he was highly respected for the quality of his professional work, it was his warm and engaging personality that most people remember him by. “He had a joie de vivre that was infectious,” says Barbara Tulipane, NRPA CEO. Alice Conkey, former NRPA president who served when Lose was board chair, says, “He was probably the best people-person I have ever known. He had the ability to talk to anyone, and he was especially effective on Capitol Hill, working with members of Congress and staff.”
Penny Randel, commissioner of Northbrook Illinois Park District and longtime NRPA board member, says she really appreciated Lose for the very gentlemanly and direct way he could say things. “He didn’t spin it,” she says. “He had the ability to see the big picture and deal with it directly. He could remain a gentleman and still be honest in saying difficult things. David was also able to see the value of parks and recreation to a community outside of his personal perspective as a landscape architect. But, it was his ability to work with people that made him so important to NRPA. He had that ability to make everyone feel their point of view was important and valued.”
Bob Farnsworth, retired CEO of Playcore, says, “David was a true Tennessee gentleman. I was proud to have called him friend, colleague and fellow advocate for parks, recreation and conservation. He had a special gift for communicating the value of parks and recreation to everyone. He will be really missed by all of us.”
Rich Dolesh is NRPA’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives.