The Ward Roylance Award is presented each year by the Entrada Institute to recognize an individual or organization combining an interest in education, the arts, and the outdoors along with the natural, historical and cultural heritage of the Colorado Plateau.
This year the award will be presented posthumously to Linton Rohr for his work in promoting astronomy education and the preservation of the dark skies of Capitol Reef National Park and Wayne County. The award presentation will occur at 7:30PM on October 22 as part of the Entrada Institute’s annual year-end event.
According to his wife Karen Rohr, “Linton was an enthusiastic and dedicated amateur astronomer. After buying the first of many telescopes in 2000 he joined two astronomy groups in the LA area. He attended the monthly star parties’ (which are held when the sky is darkest at a new moon) so he could share his views of night sky objects with interested members of the public.”
Linton’s interest in the outdoors began as a child. Linton’s brother Mike noted that he was an Eagle Scout and backpacked the entire John Muir Trail in addition to packing into Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and other wilderness areas. He was always “in search of dark skies”.
Karen stressed that “simply viewing the stars was not enough for Linton. He needed to collect ‘space rocks’. He became an active member of the International Meteorite Collectors Association. He knew if he wanted to touch an object that had been hurtling through space, others would want to also. So he amassed a large collection which he shared in public outreach whenever possible, especially here in Wayne County.”
While living in Los Angeles, Karen and Linton would drive their telescopes to the edge of the light polluted metropolis to see the dark skies. Karen pointed out that “realizing the importance of dark sky preservation, Linton joined the International Dark Sky Association. We traveled the United States with his 14 1/2 inch Dobsonian telescope in tow enjoying dark sky areas from Texas to Minnesota. We were drawn to Wayne County partially because of the night sky.”
As a founding member of the Heritage Starfest now co-sponsored by the Entrada Institute, Linton Rohr was active in promoting an awareness of the need to preserve the dark skies of Wayne County.
In addition, he became the liaison between Capitol Reef National Park and the International Dark Sky Association. Acting Chief of Interpretation for Capitol Reef, Cindy Micheli stated that “Linton was very instrumental in gathering data, suggesting ideas and nudging us along in the complex and lengthy process of applying for International Dark Sky Park status… His help, enthusiasm and encouragement were driving factors in keeping the project in motion, and I don’t believe anyone of us was more delighted when we were granted status!”
Karen Rohr described how Linton’s advanced case of ALS curtailed his telescope viewing, so he decided to share his passion for the sky through columns in the Insider. She noted that “It was Linton’s wish that the Colorado Plateau preserve its night sky views for all to wonder.”
Cindy Micheli stated that Linton’s Insider columns “gave me insight into our deep dark night skies, and often, when reading his reflections on the seasonal changes and features in the night sky, I’d say to myself, ‘Me, too! That’s what I think! That’s how I feel!’… I like to think that Linton is a star, whose fire has gone out but whose shining light will continue to inspire us for millions of lightyears to come; delighting us with beauty and illuminating our continued efforts to keep our night skies dark.”
Linton’s wife Karen and his brother Mike will be accepting the award on Saturday October 22 at 7:30PM as part of the Entrada Institute’s Annual Fundraiser ($20 donation suggested) at the Robber’s Roost in downtown Torrey. Other activities include additional awards and poetry readings by David Lee. – Annette Lamb, The Entrada Institute