The East Bay Regional Park District notes with sadness the recent death of Hulet Hornbeck, 92, former Chief of Land Acquisition, East Bay Regional Park District and longtime advocate for parks and recreational trails.
Hulet enjoyed a distinguished career as Chief of Land Acquisition of the East Bay Regional Park District from 1965 through 1985, serving legendary leaders William Penn Mott and Richard Trudeau. Hulet is credited with overseeing the acquisition of 49,000 acres of parkland, expanding the District’s land holdings from eight parks (13,000 acres) to 46 parks (62,000 acres) thus securing the unique position that the East Bay Regional Park District still enjoys today as being the largest regional park system in the nation.
Robert Doyle, who now serves as the general manager of the East Bay Regional Park District and worked for many years with Hulet Hornbeck, considered him a mentor. Doyle reflected on his many achievements within the East Bay Regional Park District and open space park agencies nationwide.
"Hulet shared a vision of growth for the Park District, and he knew how to carry it out. Always innovative and visionary, he could really push everyone to get things done, one step at a time. A member of the Greatest Generation, he was always looking to the future, at what could be. He had a sharp legal mind; even at 92, he was still giving advice. Hulet truly loved this District and its people," said Doyle.
Doyle also credits Hornbeck with envisioning the Park District’s interconnected trail system which, at over 200 miles, is now a national model in urban planning.
A lifetime conservationist and outdoorsman, Hulet held many positions in local trail and conservation organizations, receiving many honors and awards. He provided leadership for such organizations as the California Conservation Council, the American Hiking Society, the National Trails Council, the Martinez Land Trust, the Trails and Greenways Foundation, American Trails, Heritage Trails Fund, Amigos de Anza, the California Recreational Trails Committee, the East Bay Area Trails Council, the American Trails Association, Solano County Farmlands and Open Space Foundation, and the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club.
East Bay Regional Park District Board Member, Ted Radke who has served on the board for over 30 years worked directly with Hornbeck. Radke says, “Hulet made major contributions to the District with his commitment to public service. But it really was his integrity that is most memorable. He set the tone for the District which is still reflective in everything this agency does.”
In recognition of his tireless efforts in parkland development and management on behalf of the East Bay Regional Park District, the California Riding and Hiking Trail segment in Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline was renamed in honor of Hulet Hornbeck. The Hulet Hornbeck Trail was dedicated on October 14, 2005 on the occasion of his birthday.
In February, the East Bay Regional Park District will be hosting a celebration of Hulet Hornbeck’s life and achievements. The date and location will be announced soon with the intention of hosting the event at the Brazilian Room in Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley Hills. Our friends at American Trails have created a lovely dedication to Hulet Hornbeck where visitors can leave messages. We encourage you to visit at http://americantrails.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/we-lost-a-friend-and-a-legend-today-hulet-hornbeck/.
Information about the future celebration in honor of Hulet Hornbeck will be on the Park District’s website www.ebparks.org shortly.