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December 27, 2019 at 11:28 am

Alumni News | Summit Metro Parks Honor 99-Year-Old Naturalist, Bert Szabo

Bert Szabo, portrait

Summit Metro Parks today announced it will formally name December 4 “Bert Szabo Day” in honor of the park district’s first interpretive naturalist. Photo from Summit Metro Parks.

Akron’s Summit Metro Parks honored its first naturalist, Ohio University alum Bert Szabo, by naming Dec. 4, his 99th birthday, “Bert Szabo Day” and temporarily renaming a parkway for him, according to an story headlined “Summit Metro Parks recognizes first naturalist for 62 years of service.”

Szabo earned two degrees from the College of Arts & Sciences at OHIO—a B.S. in Agriculture in 1947 and an M.S. in Plant Biology in 1948.

GREATER AKRON — In honor of the park district’s first naturalist, Summit Metro Parks recently named Dec. 4 “Bert Szabo Day.”

A 34-year park district employee, Szabo has also served as a volunteer since his retirement in 1991. He is almost exactly one year older than the park district itself, having celebrated his 99th birthday Dec. 4. In recognition of Szabo’s service, Sand Run Parkway has been temporarily renamed “Bert Szabo Parkway” for the month of December.

The Summit Metro Parks Board of Park Commissioners adopted a resolution at its December meeting officially establishing Bert Szabo Day. The declaration expresses the park district’s “sincere appreciation to Mr. Szabo for his lifetime commitment to nature education, his outstanding dedication to Summit Metro Parks and his unwavering service to the people of Summit County.”


MyTown NEO details Szabo’s contributions to the area in a story headlined “Summit Metro Parks celebrates ‘Bert Szabo Day.’”

More than a half-century ago, Bert Szabo was among a group of people gathered in a room of the then-headquarters of what would become Summit Metro Parks to discuss how to get people out on the trails and in the parks.

The idea that would become the annual Fall Hiking Spree was the vision of then-director Arthur Wilcox, but Szabo helped get it started in 1964.

As everyone wondered when and how the spree could start, Szabo remembered he had a nature walk coming up that Sunday and suggested they could bill that as the spree’s official start.

“People followed me into every park, and it kept getting longer and longer,” Szabo said.

The Fall Hiking Spree continues today — and Szabo participated in the spree for more than 50 consecutive careers, only stopping a few years ago.

Read more at MyTown NEO,

Szabo also was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame in November, honoring his service in World War II.

In 2014, Summit Metro Parks Facebook also lauded Szabo: “Bert Szabo, our very first naturalist and now a longtime volunteer, has received the 2014 “Outstanding Volunteer Interpreter” award from the National Association for Interpretation.”

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