John Maxwell Good

Meridian, Idaho

Former National Park Service superintendent and longtime Jackson resident John M. Good died at home in Meridian, Idaho, on Dec. 5, 2019. He was 95 years old.

Born in St. Louis, Mo., on March 15, 1924, Mr. Good began his NPS career in 1951 as a cave guide at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, N.M., and retired as superintendent of Everglades National Park, Fla., in 1981. He worked at seven parks during his career including serving as chief naturalist at Yellowstone National Park, Wyo., 1960-68, superintendent, Acadia National Park, 1968-71, deputy superintendent, Yosemite National Park, Calif., 1971-76 and superintendent, Everglades National Park, Fla,. 1976-81.

Highlights include a series of land exchanges in Acadia that solidified park boundaries and serving on the initial board of trustees during the establishment of the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor. Working with Yosemite Superintendent Lynn Thompson and Chief Ranger Jack Morehead as the NPS faced the challenges of a rapidly changing society and visitor demographics in the wake of the Yosemite riot. Protecting Florida Bay by eliminating commercial fishing and initiating the legal efforts that required the state of Florida to acknowledge perpetual water rights for Everglades National Park. The Florida Bay work earned him an “attaboy” from Boston Red Sox slugger and avid Florida fly fisherman Ted Williams who had told him he didn’t think ending commercial fishing could be done.

Born and raised in St. Louis, Mr. Good learned his lifelong love of the outdoors spending summers at his aunt and uncle’s farm in the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri. After serving in the Navy during WWII, he attended Washington University in St. Louis for both his bachelor and master’s degrees in geology. He worked for a brief time as an exploration geologist for Standard Oil of Texas after graduation.

While on vacation he had visited several parks and became interested in working for the National Park Service. He joined the agency in 1951, dedicating his working life to national parks and their mission of preserving natural and cultural resources for public use and enjoyment. He agreed with his favorite author Wallace Stegner, who wrote that “National Parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”

After retirement, Mr. Good finished his field work and wrote, “Interpreting the Landscape: Recent and Ongoing Geology of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks” with his good friend, USGS geologist Dr. Ken Pierce. He worked as a volunteer for years for the Yellowstone wolf reintroduction project with Rick McIntyre. The success of the reintroduction made him quite happy as he knew the key role they play in restoring the Yellowstone country. He also tutored in the Teton County schools for many years. He continued to spend as much time as possible outdoors fly fishing, cross-country skiing, hiking, camping, paddling and bird watching for as long as he could in many areas of the country and around the world.

Mr. Good is survived by his wife of 45 years Edna, her son Randy Carroll, daughter Katherine Good-Smith, son Lou Good and grandson John Beck.

Lou Good said, “My father loved working and playing in national parks. He considered being a park ranger the best job a person could have and was fortunate to work during the era when a ranger’s job was to range. He mentored countless young men and women in the agency. His enthusiasm, knowledge and experience were infectious.”

He went on to say, “As he prepared to leave Jackson for the last time I reminded him that he had lived and worked in either Mammoth Hot Springs or Jackson for almost half his life, close to 44 years. His face just lit up and he said, ‘Not bad, not bad at all!’ We should all be so lucky.”

Services will be announced later. The family asks that, in his memory, everyone fights hard to preserve our public lands and public access to them as John Maxwell Good did his entire life.

Know when to pay your respects.