Stephen Tyng Mather (1867-1930)
Stephen Tyng Mather was an industrialist and conservationist. He was known for his efforts to protect national parks. In his life time Mather had occupations as a businessman, a newspaper reporter, a naturalist, co-founder of the Thorkildsen-Mather Borax Company, and the first director of the National Park Service. Stephen was born in San Francisco, California on July 4th, 1867 to Joseph Mather and Berth Jemima Walker. He received his education at the private Boys’ High School in San Francisco and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. There, Mather earned his Bachelor of Letters Degree. He and his family moved to New York and worked as a reporter for a newspaper called the New York Sun until 1893. While working there, he met another reporter named Robert Yard and they became good friends. Yard was his best man in Mather’s marriage in 1893 to Jane Thacker and later Mather and Thacker have a daughter whose name is Bertha Floy Mather. Five years later, he helped Thomas Thorkildsen found a borax company. Borax is used in detergents, cosmetics, enamel glaze, and as a texturing agent in cooking. However, Stephen was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and did not join Thomas full-time until 1904. This company made them millionaires in 1914. Mather always had an interest in nature. When he traveled with his wife to Europe in 1904, his interests in nature were re-strengthened. After seeing the many public parks there, Mather wanted to save areas of parkland in the United States and protect their resources and the natural areas. He became a conservationist and a friend of John Muir, another conservationist. Mather’s view on conservation was that nature should be protected and all of the National parks should not be exploited. His beliefs stated that these parks were meant to serve higher purposes. Later, he became a member of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club is one of the oldest and largest grassroots environment...
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