Great Smoky Mountains National Park staff are mourning the loss of Deputy Superintendent Patty Wissinger, age 55, who passed away Friday night of cancer. Wissinger was recently selected as the Smokies Deputy Superintendent last August.
“Our park family, not only at the Smokies, but throughout the service, has suffered a tremendous loss,” said Acting Park Superintendent Cindy MacLeod. “Patty was an exceptional leader and dedicated mentor with a passion for sharing parks with youth. She will be greatly missed.”
Wissinger began her National Park Service career in 1980 as a seasonal campground ranger on the Blue Ridge Parkway and moved up through the Park Service ranks. Before coming to the Smokies, she was the Superintendent of Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. She also served at the Blue Ridge Parkway, Shenandoah National Park, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Wright Brothers National Memorial, Vicksburg National Military Park, and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.
Wissinger looked forward to serving at the Smokies at the peak of her 33-year career. She shared her delight last August by saying, “I feel like the most blessed person in the National Park Service right now. This park is unsurpassed by its natural beauty, diversity of resources, and cultural heritage. In my opinion, it is absolutely the most beautiful place on earth. I am so proud to join the committed cadre of citizens who together will protect this incredibly special place as we also connect it to a new generation of Americans to preserve and enjoy.”
She is survived by her husband, Gordon Wissinger, three daughters, three grandchildren, and five siblings. A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at Central United Methodist Church in Asheville.