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Ann Parr, 'Mrs. Trail,' worked tirelessly to improve recreation in Draper

Published August 23, 2012 7:33 am

73-year-old who died Saturday spearheaded the drive to link Little Valley, Corner Canyon.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Ann Parr was enchanted by the beauty of Draper's rugged foothills when she moved to the suburb in 1984.

A long-distance equestrian endurance rider who relished time in wide open spaces on her beloved horse, Parr always had a sharp eye for how to preserve and develop trails to make the scenery around her more accessible to hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders without disrupting the environment.

Her passion motivated her to volunteer with the Draper Parks and Trails Commission before she was eventually appointed to the Draper Planning Commission for 16 years. She made a name for herself while tirelessly advocating to improve the city's trails system, including taking the lead on the Save Corner Canyon Campaign in 2005. Her lobbying resulted in Draper purchasing land for outdoor recreation that had been set aside for residential development.

When Parr, 73, died Saturday after a 22-month battle with pancreatic cancer, her can-do spirit and dedication to public lands was warmly recalled by those who knew her best.

"She was a strong woman who let people know where she stood but did it in a way that endeared her to them," said Parr's husband, Clayton. "She will be remembered for her strength, warm, sincerity and honesty."

Parr was born in Fargo, N.D., but moved to Bremerton, Wash., with her family, where she lived for most of her childhood. She graduated from Willamette University in 1961 with a degree in social work, a field that would lead her over the years to work in various jobs related to child welfare, adoption and teen counseling.

While life took her to San Diego, Anchorage, Tucson, Ariz., and New York City, she and her husband eventually settled in Utah, where she worked on a number of government committees.

She spent two terms as a member of the Utah State Non-Motorized Trails Advisory Committee and served time on the Salt Lake County ZAP Committee, which assists in allocating funds for the Hogle Zoo, arts and parks. But trails issues were especially close to her heart, said her husband. She loved meeting neighbors and other Draper residents in the hills not far from where she lived, he said.

"She spent a lot of time on her horse over these same hills where some of the trails [she worked to create] are now. She met a lot of Draper natives and people who had lived here for many years. She delighted in spending time up in the mountains up on the horse, talking about the history of Draper and where she had been," said Clayton Parr.

Ann Parr was excited about watching Draper grow from a sleepy community of roughly 7,000 when she moved there in 1984 to a city of more than 40,000 today, her husband said. She was particularly proud to have a trail named after her in 2011 by the Draper City Council and glad to see her vision for outdoor recreation unfold, he said.

In April, Draper city officials honored Parr at the dedication ceremony of a tunnel that united Ann's Trail, the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and Clark's Trail to create a 10.2-mile loop. Parr spearheaded the drive for a trail system linking 633 acres in Little Valley with 1,000 in Corner Canyon.

Draper Mayor Darrell Smith joked at the ceremony that Parr could be nicknamed "Mrs. Trail" for her perseverance in promoting the importance of trail systems, including the tunnel that opened last spring beneath Traverse Ridge Road.

He recalled Parr "being out there constantly" in 2005, while petitioning residents to support the $7 million bond for canyon preservation. It was the largest bond measure passed in Salt Lake County for a single open-space acquisition.

"It paid off," said Smith on Wednesday of Parr's efforts. She was a "lady with a great sense of drive, great sense of decency and respect for people," he added.

City Councilman William Rappleye, who worked with Parr during his 10 years as a city planning commissioner, praised her years of dedication to the city and her passion for trails.

"Her tenacity was amazing," he said. "She would never give up."

Besides her love for the outdoors, Parr's legacy includes "her compassion for people of all walks of life," Rappleye said. "We have multi-use trails because of her. … My lasting memory is her passion for trails and fairness. Without fairness, you can't get property owners to cooperate to get easements and things like that."

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Remembering Ann Parr

Ann Parr's family will hold at a later date a private memorial service to remember her.

She is survived by her husband Clayton, three children, two grandchildren and extended family.