July 1, 2014 Jeff Manes, Sun-Times Media
“The Dunes are to the Midwest what the Grand Canyon is to Arizona and Yosemite is to California. They constitute a signature of time and eternity. Once lost, the loss would be irrevocable.”
— Carl Sandburg
Garry Traynham, deputy superintendent of the 15,000-acre Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, is nearing retirement. Our interview took place in the conference room at the headquarters off of Mineral Springs Road in Porter.
Traynham, 59, lives in an unincorporated area of LaPorte near Rolling Prairie with his wife Audrey.
“I was born in High Point, North Carolina,” Traynham began.
Garry, I was traveling through North Carolina once and stopped in the mountains of Asheville. I ordered a pizza with pork topping and almost died — food poisoning. I don’t think those folks knew what a pizza was.
“Ha! To be honest, I don’t think I had a pizza until I was in college. We were raised on farm food.”
At what college did you attend?
“North Carolina State. I have a degree in forest resources.”
First job after college?
“On the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. It runs from Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smokies. It’s 460 miles long. I started as a seasonal employee at a place called the Peaks of Otter. I was there for a total of eight years.”
When did you eventually transfer to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore?
“In 1997. I have 37 years with the National Park Service.”