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The field lost a pioneer park and recreation leader with the passing of Anne Springs Close in August 2021. Close, a noted conservationist and philanthropist, was a past chair of the NRPA Board of Directors and a NRPA Life Trustee.
Jodie Adams, another past member of the NRPA Board of Directors, first met Close when first considering joining the board. “She was a tremendous role model for our field’s practitioners and citizens who served on their local park boards/commissions,” Adams says.
Close was the daughter of Elliott Springs, a decorated World War I pilot, author and successful businessman. After college, she would return to her hometown and live on her family’s property, close to the South Carolina border with North Carolina.
Out of her family’s business ventures came the Springs Close Foundation and Leroy Springs and Company, Inc. Close stepped up as chair of the board for both organizations, expanding her father’s efforts to provide park and recreation opportunities to communities by donating money to projects designed to improve the lives of local people, according to her biography by The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration.
As development around Charlotte, North Carolina, encroached on her family’s property, Close reached out to The Nature Conservancy and a planner for greenways to develop a land-use plan that would place 2,100 acres of the property in a conservancy while retaining 4,000 acres for development, according to her Legacy obituary. The Anne Springs Close Greenway, which opened in 1995, stands as a natural buffer to urban sprawl, giving those in the nearby communities a place for outdoor recreational activities.
“Anne made a great positive impact on all who knew her, as well as all who have benefited from her efforts on connecting people through trails for all,” says Fran Mainella, past member of the NRPA Board of Directors.