Ed Page

Noted environmental advocate Ed Page dies

Ed Page, seen hiking in 1999, was a major advocate of area outdoor recreation projects. He died Monday, March 4, 2001, at the age of 85. A Lynchburg man who devoted his retirement years to nurturing and developing the hiking trails along Blackwater Creek. Edwin R. Page Jr., 85, is survived by his wife, Cathleen M. "Sue" Page. Although his health had declined in recent months, Page's vigor over the years in developing the trails he loved created a legacy that will not be forgotten. "He cared about the hiking public," said Sam Ripley, a friend of 20 years and member of the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club. "He wanted to get people involved and get them outdoors."Page, born in Ithaca, N.Y., came by his interest in hiking from his own father. He hiked all over the world as well as in the mountains of New York and Colorado. Educated at the University of Oklahoma, Page held a master's in electrical engineering. A veteran of the U.S. Army, he retired as a lieutenant colonel. Page came to Lynchburg with General Electric in 1971, and joined the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club at that time. He retired from GE in the mid-1980s and concentrated on making sure that future hikers - or just folks out for a walk - would have somewhere to go.

Page, was not a tall man, but was wiry and kept a pretty good pace as a hiker, friends said. But he didn't race along - he enjoyed being outdoors. Friends say he was a visionary - seeing as feasible a network of trails and bike paths from Lynchburg to Appomattox and Amherst. In a 1995 interview, Page said that his motivation was to keep commercial and industrial development away from the trails, "to protect it for future generations to enjoy." He helped organize volunteers for trail maintenance and has spent so much time improving the area, that he was affectionately called "The Mayor of Blackwater Creek." The trails go through about 288 acres of public land in Lynchburg. The Blackwater Creek Natural Area was dedicated in May 1979. In 1999 the section of the Blackwater Creek Trail within Lynchburg City limits was named "Ed Page's Trail." "He sure loved Lynchburg, his adopted home," said John Doyle, also a hiker and club member. Friends respected his willingness to work for what he believed in, to write letters, go to meetings, and meet with officials. He did not limit his work to the local scene but advocated hiking on a national level, as well. When he got started on a project, "he was sort of a bulldog," said Doyle. Page was very much concerned and interested in working with Lynchburg College, extending the trail around College Lake and into Bedford County, said Doyle. But he also wanted to see the Percival Island project go onto Amherst and Appomattox, a bike and hiking trail. And he always dreamed of a larger trail system. "You never told Ed no," Ripley said. If you did, he would keep at it, going to meetings, drumming up support. "Finally, you'd give up and say, Ed, you've got it.''His memberships included many organizations such as Friends of Lynchburg Stream Valleys, the Appalachian Trail Conference and the American Hiking Society. Last week, Page was the recipient of the Mayor's Award of Excellence. Page's death has touched many. "It's like an era passing," said Kay Frazier, Parks & Recreation director, about Page and former City Manager Charles Church, who died last week. Frazier has been with the city for about three years. "There are no words to describe his advocacy of the trail," she said. News & Advance staff writers Cynthia T. Pegram and Michael Hewlett contributed to this report.

Used with permission from The News & Advance