His full name might not spark
instant recognition, but his nickname perhaps the best-known in
The man and his
legacy are celebrated in WGCU-TV's newest Untold Stories documentary:
'Sanctuary: 'Ding' Darling National Wildlife Refuge.'
As in Jay Norwood 'Ding' Darling the man for whom the currently troubled but world-renowned Sanibel wildlife refuge was named, the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, the ardent conservationist who fell in love with the region's barrier islands in 1935 and had a winter home on Captiva (now part of artist Robert Rauschenberg's island holdings.)
He was a big man, with
a commanding voice, a formidable intellect, a wry sense of humor and immense
energy, says his grandson, Kip Koss, president of the Key Biscayne-based J.N.
'Ding' Darling Foundation.
So, who was the man who inspired the movie? Was he as distinctive a character as his trademark flourish of a signature?
'He tasted the juices of
sports and politics, fame and despair, art and power, science and education,
journalism and conservation. For more than 80 years he plied his talent for
wringing everything possible from life.'
Born in 1876 in
Concerned with pollution and
extinction of wildlife, he worked these themes into his cartoons. An avid hunter
and fisherman himself, Darling used his cartoons to emphasize that regulations
governing these sports should be observed.
In July 1934, President Roosevelt asked Darling to head the U.S. Biological Survey, precursor to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. In this capacity, Darling battled for greater national attention and spending for conservation. Darling was responsible for securing about $17 million to restore wildlife habitat.
Established in 1945, the J.N. 'Ding' Darling National Wildlife Refuge originally was known as the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge, an arm of the Everglades National Wildlife Refuge, now known as
Darling died in 1962 at 85;
in 1967, the refuge was renamed to honor him.
Sources: The News-Press archives, dingdarling.org, David Lendt, dingdarlingdays.com