$3 Million Bequest Earmarked For Rocky Mountain Nature Association
Money Boosts Campaign for Rocky Mountain National Park’s Next Generation Fund
The Rocky Mountain Nature Association announced the receipt of a $3 million bequest from the estate of Edith and John London of Denver.
At the Nature Association’s annual picnic, Executive Director Curt Buchholtz surprised an audience of four hundred members and donors with news of the largest gift ever received to benefit Rocky Mountain National Park. The bulk of this gift, he explained, will be placed in the Next Generation Endowment Fund, boosting a major fundraising effort to support educational programs in and around Rocky Mountain National Park.
“It is a tribute to the memory of John and Edith London,” he announced, “that their love for Rocky Mountain National Park has been translated into a gift that will impact young people and the park in perpetuity.”
Buchholtz went on to explain that the London’s were post-World War II immigrants. John was from Kassel, Germany; Edith was born in Vienna, Austria. They met and married in Switzerland after the war, moving to America in July 1951.
They were industrious and hard working people, Buchholtz explained. Edith became an accountant in the sugar beet industry, while John had been trained in Switzerland as an automotive engineer and was employed by General Motors. Weekends and holidays saw them exploring Colorado’s mountains, and especially Rocky Mountain National Park, “because it reminded them of their beloved Alps.”
John Leslie London (born Hans Joachim Strassers) died October 14, 2001 at age 85. Edith Margaret London (born Edith Frydmann von Prawy) died April 13, 2007 at age 89.
As a young man, John was an aspiring photographer, Buchholtz noted. His early albums were filled with pictures of mountain landscapes, wildlife and flowers. Their house in southwest Denver contained a full-fledged darkroom. “John had the eye of an artist and the darkroom skills of a professional, sufficient to perfect his craft during his retirement years.”
Buchholtz said that he become acquainted with Edith over the last six years of her life, beginning with her donation of John’s photographic equipment to the Nature Association.
He noted that Edith enjoyed travel and the mountains and talked fondly of her many trips to the park with John. “Considering the hardships both Edith and John suffered as a result of World War II,” Buchholtz concluded, “their life together in America must have given them great satisfaction. Colorado’s mountains helped remind them of the good times before the war, growing up in Austria and Switzerland.”
Since 1931, the Rocky Mountain Nature Association has been the primary nonprofit partner with Rocky Mountain National Park, having completed dozens of philanthropic projects to benefit the park. It also serves the US Forest Service and other public land agencies, like Colorado State Parks, specifically helping with book sales and publishing. It’s well known for ambitious improvement projects, building visitor centers, saving historic structures, land acquisition, and providing educational programs.
The Rocky Mountain Nature Association’s Next Generation Fund campaign is a multi-year effort to raise an endowment of $10 million. The Fund will support a variety of youth-oriented programs, from Junior Rangers to the American Conservation Corps, from internships and research fellowships to the park’s well-known Environmental Education program.
Over $1 million had been raised for the campaign prior to the London gift.
Buchholtz added that the London bequest represents a landmark in the history of the Association. It is the first multi-million dollar gift for the newly announced campaign. “John and Edith London demonstrated an incredible act of stewardship for our public lands,” he said. “The London Fund will lead the way in creating the next generation of conservationists.”