Virginia State Parks lost one of its heroes on October 4, 2011 with the death of Herbert N. Doswell, Jr. Herb worked for state parks for 40 years, seeing tour parks through the turbulent 60s and ultimately into a new millennium. He retired in 2001 from his post as Park Manager for Twin Lakes State Park.
I first met Herbert Doswell in 1994. It didn’t take long to understand that his career gave him an opportunity to build special relationships with two special groups at two special parks.
Joe Elton (left) with Herb Doswell
His work with native Americans at Occoneechee State Park resulted in establishment of an annual Native American Powwow at the park and development of visitor center exhibits that uniquely and compellingly tell the story of the remarkable people who were at the center of a trading network in prehistoric times.
Herb’s work with Black Americans at Twin Lakes made it possible for us to capture the segregationist history of Prince Edward State Park for Negroes – the one and only park people of color could visit during Virginia’s pre-1964 segregation past. Thanks to Herb’s research we were able to pay tribute to the historic figures who made Prince Edward State Park’s history part of the interpretive experience at the Cedar Crest Conference Center at Twin Lakes State Park.
The park was renamed to put the unpleasant, segregation past behind us. It was Herb who helped me understand that Prince Edward State Park was fondly remembered by those who spent their summers swimming at its beach or attending the weekend dances held there throughout the summer. Family reunions, church gatherings, weddings and much more are all part of Prince Edward State Park’s history. He knew it needed to be celebrated and with his leadership we launched a Prince Edward State Park “Family Reunion” on May 18, 1996.