HOLMBERG: James River Park manager retires

Posted at 11:52 PM, Dec 21, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-24 00:21:43-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Ralph White has been the James River Park Naturalist, sharing his love for the river park system with hundreds of volunteers who have transformed the park from a polluted, glass-strewn mess to one of the finest urban wilderness river playgrounds in the land.

He’s been Richmond’s Mark Trail, famously rebellious, frequently defying his bosses, answering mostly to the river and those who love it.

When Ralph started 32 years ago, the James River Park System was a little more than 200 acres. It’s three times that now.  It is now one of the finest wilderness park systems in our area.

For many of us, Ralph has led us down to the river and lifted our spirits, making us proud of a town that used to chronically suffer from low self-esteem.

Now he’s a retiree, walking off the job Friday afternoon after leading a winter solstice poetry reading on Belle Island.

 Appropriately enough, he read Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.”

 We joined him and dozens of his river friends during a cold, windy but fire-warmed celebration of his service at the city’s old port Friday night.

 We learned he just had a chunk of cancer cut off the right side of his face, but he’s otherwise healthy, looking forward to travelling with his wife, Cricket, and writing.

 Best wishes, brother Ralph.

 Thank you for helping us fall in love with our wonderful River City.