Robert (Bob) Proudman passed away Oct. 18, 2018, at the age of 69, after a brief but courageous battle with cancer. He was born in Southington, Connecticut on Dec. 4, 1948.
Bob will be lovingly remembered by his children; Ben Proudman and Katie Proudman (Brian), grandson Jack, former wife and long time friend Anne Post Poole, siblings; Harry “Chip” Proudman (Cathi), Joan Selmer-Larsen (Johan), Jonathan Proudman, his nieces and nephews, and many, many friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Valborg and Harry Proudman.
Bob dedicated nearly 50 years of service to the Appalachian Trail beginning in 1965, when he began working on the Trail Crew of the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) of New Hampshire. Beginning at age sixteen, Bob, or “Bobe” (as he was known on the trail), rose through the ranks, becoming the first full-time, club-wide Supervisor of Trails in 1972. He was on the former Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) Board of Managers from 1975 to 1978 and joined the National Park Service Appalachian Trail Park Office in 1979-80. From 1981 until his retirement in 2017, he worked at the ATC office in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. He was a master trail builder, leader and mentor, working with ATC, the National Park Service, other government agencies, and within local communities to protect the entire trail from Georgia to Maine. He founded and inspired trail crews, ridge runners, caretakers and land- management, including extensive boundary survey programs, park law enforcement, and Search & Rescue operations along the Appalachian mountain range. Bob authored, with others, Appalachian Trail Design, Construction and Maintenance (1st and 2nd editions). In 2016, Bob went to Lake Hovskol National Park, Mongolia, to assist in park conservation and trail building, traveling on horseback to remote areas. Bob’s background as a rock climber and mountaineer (which included first ascents in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and on Mt Katahdin in Maine) and his many, varied outdoor adventures, gave Bob the ability to sleep almost anywhere (hence his other nickname: “Bivouac Bob”).
After retirement until his passing, Bob served as President of the Trail Crew Association (TCA). Bob’s entire life’s work was grounded in his love for the mountains and his passion for conservation.
His family and friends will greatly miss his kind and gentle demeanor, his deep wisdom and wide smile, and his witty, generous spirit. A long-term, active member of Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church where he loved to sing in the choir, Bob also devoted his time to the needs of his family, friends and the wider community.
In memory of Bob’s long-term stewardship and commitment to those that continue to conserve the trail, donations can be made in his memory to the Trail Crew Association (PO BOX 100, Washington, VT 05675 or www.amctca.com) and Appalachian Trail Conservancy (www.appalachiantrail.org).
A service in celebration of Bob’s life will be shared at a later date.