“The John Apperson Society recognizes Apperson’s significant contributions to the preservation of Lake George and honors those who have followed in his footsteps,” said Nancy Williams, the Conservancy’s executive director.
According to Williams, any individual or family who donates $100,000 or more over a period of five years is eligible for membership in the John Apperson Society.
A donation of an easement whose value equals or exceeds $100,000 also qualifies for membership in the Society, Williams said.
“Every member receives a medal and framed certificate acknowledging the gift. The Conservancy will maintain a plaque for the Apperson Society and the Society members will be recognized each year at our annual Land and Water Conservation Celebration,” said Williams.
The founding members were inducted into the society at the Conservancy’s 2010 celebration, held on Lake George on August 2.
John Apperson was born in Smyth County, Virginia in 1879. His love of Lake George began in 1900 when, as a a patent engineer at General Electric, he made his first trips here to hike, canoe and camp. Apperson first acquired property on Lake George in 1918, when he bought a parcel on Tongue Mountain so that he would have a place to store his boats and where he built a rough shelter.
During those first years on Lake George, Apperson heard became that a developer was planning to build a hotel on Dome Island. With the financial support of William K. Bixby, of Bolton Landing, and Dr. Irving Langmuir, the GE scientists who later won a Nobel Prize, Apperson purchased Dome Island and later donated it to the Nature Conservancy so that it would be kept in its natural state.
“Because of Apperson’s foresight and generosity, Dome Island is still maintained as a research preserve. We think his example is inspiring,” said Williams.
But preserving Dome Island was only one of Apperson’s accomplishments.
He recruited more than 300 people from 12 nations and 27 states to use their boats to carry stones and gravel to rip-rap the shores of many islands to protect them from boat-wake erosion.
Apperson also used his political skills to prevent Robert Moses from building a highway along the shoreline of Tongue Mountain and to lobby for the state acquisition of the Knapp estate.
After Apperson’s death in 1964, Times-Union columnist Barney Fowler wrote, “He was the dean of the implacable conservationists, the man who wanted the woods as God made them. Throughout his entire life he made his power felt.”
According to Nancy Williams, the Conservancy has established a $100,000 gift as the prerequisite for membership in the Apperson Society because that figure is today’s equivalent of the sum Apperson raised to maintain Dome Island in its pristine state.
“In order to assure its permanent protection, Apperson raised $20,000.00 for an endowment,” said Williams. “At approximately 3.25% interest over 53 years $20,000 is equivalent to roughly $100,000 today.”
Photos: John Apperson; Founding members of Apperson Society, Lake George, August 2010. Lake George Mirror photo files.
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