Longtime ‘Ding’ guide Art Krival, 86, passes
Arthur S. Krival, an accomplished educator, nature enthusiast, traveler and longtime tour guide and volunteer at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, passed away on April 7 at Shell Point Pavilion Hope Hospice under the kind and skilled care of their staff. He was 86.
Krival was born on April 30, 1923 in Newark, N.J. to Israel “Joe” Krival and Rose Krival and had one sister, Ruth Green. While in high school, he wrote a sports column for a Newark newspaper. Following his graduation, he went to work for a New England weekly publication.
After a year at the University of Missouri, Krival entered the U.S. Army Specialized Training Program for gifted students and was transferred to the infantry. He served in Europe during World War II and, when the war ended, worked for a newspaper in Wolverhampton, England before he mustered out of the service.
Krival returned to college to complete a major in English at the University of Missouri, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and was invited to continue his studies for a Master’s and serve as a graduate assistant. That same year, 1947, he married another graduate assistant, Molly Penson, and they had four children – David, Michael, Stephen and Catherine.
Art attended the University of Chicago’s doctoral program in English, where he completed all but the dissertation before being asked to teach. His interest in continuing education led him to the large program at the University of Wisconsin in 1960, where he was appointed Chairman of Communication Programs, UW Extension. In the late 1960s, he administered a teacher improvement program for U.S.A.I.D in Kenya.
“Those three-and-a-half years in Kenya were one of the most important periods in our lives,” he said in a 2005 interview with the Sanibel-Captiva Islander. “In fact, those three-and-a-half years changed our lives forever. We learned more than you’d think possible about the environment.
“But it wasn’t just that. We were plunked down in the midst of a lot of different cultures – there were ex-patriots there from all over Europe, from Iron Curtain countries, from the Middle East and other locations.”
The Krivals often lived in bandas (“upscale tiki huts with pole-fence sides”) and visited most of the game parks in East Africa, spending many weekends at Lake Naivasha, Lake Nakuru or the Nairobi Game Park.
“It was even more important to the children” And these are definitely Krival children – smart, intellectually curious, working in challenging professional fields. Kate, for example, started school in Nairobi – she’s now a Ph.D. in speech pathology. Another is a biologist, one an editor, one an attorney.
Their stay in Kenya literally introduced them to wildlife; indeed, it immersed them in it. (After all, how many times have you gone out for an evening of bridge that was cancelled because giraffes were blocking access to the front door?) They developed an enormous interest in and understanding of wildlife and habitat; the sojourn in Kenya taught them to open their eyes to a world out there they’d never known, to start recognizing what it was they were seeing.
Art did not want to retire. The first 40 years of their marriage, in addition to raising the four kids, were devoted to acadme – University of Wisconsin/Madison. Molly is a retired professor of speech pathology; Art was a former English professor, dean, department chair and associate director on the Madison campus. Their ultimate move to Sanibel was a direct outgrowth of their stay in Kenya.
“I loved what I did and UW was a good place to work. But retire we did, and we found a wonderful way to spend out retirement years.” The intelligence, curiosity and energy required for their life jobs, as Art described them, carried over to this new life, this new “career.’
For 19 years, they were both very active with the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, where they served as rovers “forever,” tour guides, birding experts, and so very much more.
“Art was an amazing man,” commented Refuge Ranger Toni Westland. “I’ve told Molly this already, but I am so grateful that the two of them embraced me when I first started here at the refuge in November 2002. They were huge supporters of wildlife education for all ages, but especially school children and the first people to donate a spotting scope to be used for education.
“Art believed in teaching kids to not only identify the birds, but to respect the equipment they were allowed to use. Thousands of students have been able to view many of our amazing birds up close because of their generosity. He conducted our shorebird surveys here at the refuge for many years. Every time I see a shorebird, I think of Art. Now that he has passed, I especially see him.”
“Art and Molly Krival were among the first volunteers I met 17 years ago and I just loved them,” said Julie Hiller, the Refuge’s Office Assistant..”So knowledgeable and friendly. I remember Art’s smile and his laugh. He will be missed.”
“Art Krival meant a lot, not only to J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge, but the many other refuges that he and Molly helped with getting friends groups started,” Refuge Manager Paul Tritaik said. “He was a passionate supporter of refuges and strongly believed in educating the public about wildlife conservation. I first met him when I visited ‘Ding’ as the brand new manager at Pelican Island. Art made me feel so welcome, almost as if I were a new member of the ‘Ding’ Darling ‘family.’ When I did become manager of ‘Ding’ Darling, he remembered me, assured me that I’d made the right choice and, choking back tears, talked some about how much he missed the refuge and his friends there.
“Art left an indelible impression on the managers, staff and volunteers who worked here,” he continued. “He befriended former manager Rob Jess and – according to Rob – “(Art) was not only a good friend, but a mentor, role model and confidant. He was a father figure who helped whenever needed, always with a wry smile. He had a calm demeanor, but could stand quite firm when it was necessary.”
“He was the consummate professional who expected the best from our friends group, the ‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife Society. The high quality of the ‘Ding’ Darling Bookstore in the refuge’s Education Center is just one testament to the impact that Art had. In fact, it was Art who insisted it be called ‘Bookstore,’ not ‘Gift Shop,’ because he wanted to ensure we projected a professional, conservation-minded image,” Tritaik added.
“To managers like Lou Hinds, Rob Jess and myself, and many Refuge staff and volunteers, Art was a true friend and cherished family member,” Paul concluded. “The J. N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge and the people who worked and volunteered here are truly better off because of Art Krival, and for that we will always remember, honor and miss him.”
“When I hark back to my ‘Ding’ Darling days, some of my fondest memories are of the volunteers,” former manager Lou Hinds said, “Their passion, dedication and desire to learn fueled my drive to be a better Refuge Manager and person; Art Krival was one of those volunteers. If you watched him carefully, he was continuously learning and synthesizing information. I enjoyed his many questions about refuge management and the workings of the Fish & Wildlife Service. Since we were both born in New Jersey we shared the kinship of State heritage.
“Art was a tireless worker for the Refuge and the ‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife Society. He was an ardent supporter of the Service’s and the Society’s efforts to recruit new public support groups – Friends groups – for National Wildlife Refuges. My times with Molly and Art crisscrossing the country mentoring these new Friends groups provide some of my fondest memories of Art. As a team we worked well together, and I feel honored to have known Art and to have called him my friend,” Hinds said.
The deterioration of Art’s health took the couple to Shell Point and, eventually, put Art in the care of Hope Hospice.
“Art was a man who was dedicated to the protection and preservation of wildlife,” offered “Ding” Darling Volunteer Coordinator Jeff Combs. “His passion for wildlife was evident as he spent countless hours educating fellow volunteers and visitors. He was an inspiration for me to continue my work in preserving the resource.”
His former colleagues at the University of Wisconsin honor him at their monthly lunches; his children honor him as a great father; his wife honors him as her good and loving companion of 62 years; and his friends on Sanibel and around the world are proud to have called him “mentor” and “friend.”