We were saddened by the death last week of William Conway, who began his career at WCS as an assistant ornithology curator in 1956 and retired as its president in 1999. Dr. Conway is undoubtedly among the most pivotal figures in WCS’s history and in modern zoo and aquarium history. We will be reflecting on his legacy in the coming months, but for now, the WCS Archives is remembering the grit and the grace Dr. Conway brought to saving wildlife and wild places.
My first job was working on the Bronx zoo tractor trains in the early 1960’s. I met Mr.Conway several times over those years making his rounds at the zoo. I have always looked fondly back at that period.
Love hearing about this, Robert!
William Conway was instrumental in supporting the formation of the NYZS Archives. If you are interested, i can fill you in some of the “history” of the archives. It began with cleaning out the basement in the (old?) Administration Building in 1977-78. The original papers were boxed in a dozen or more “transfiles,” each containing about 2 1/2 feet of papers in them. Other boxes of materials, including the William Beebe papers that were still at the zoo were in the basement of the (old) Monkey House. It was quite the labor of love going through those materials. Mr. Conway approved, first, having a group of graduate students from Fordham Univ. work in the (old) Library – then located in the Administration Building, and then, of obtaining funding from the national Historic Preservation Commission to set up the Archives. I’m glad to see this blog, but sorry to see that Mr. Conway passed away in October. He certainly left an important legacy for others to follow.
Thank you for sharing this history, George! I recognize your name from our records! Steve Johnson of course was brought in to work on that NHPRC-funded initial project, and we’re so glad to stay in touch with him too.