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Volume xviii, Issue 9 ~ March 4 - March 10, 2010

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Tom Wisner’s Name Lives On

King’s Landing Environmental Education Center takes poet’s name

by Sandra Olivetti Martin

Tom Wisner made a name for himself in Chesapeake Country. Now, the man we call the bard of the Chesapeake nears his last days, traveling from this world to another in his bed at Calvert Hospice. But his name will live on in the Tom Wisner Environmental Education Center at King’s Landing Park.

The naming decision was made last week by the Maryland Board of Public Works in honor of the Chesapeake Bay’s legendary educator, singer and songwriter.

Wisner was praised by John Griffin, secretary of Maryland Department of Natural Resources, for creating “awareness among children and adults about the spirit, beauty and human connection to the Chesapeake Bay.” Sen. Roy Dyson; Del. Sue Kullen; Wilson Parran, president of the Calvert County Board of Commissioners; and journalist Tom Horton continued the litany of praise. Then the three-person board approved the naming, causing Gov. Martin O’Malley to note that Wisner had accomplished “something I never have in life: a unanimous vote.”

Kings Landing Park, in Huntingtown, opens to the Patuxent River, the subject to many of Wisner’s songs and poems, including his 1983 “Bernie’s Measure,” which inspired former state Sen. Bernie Fowler’s annual and now much-emulated wade-in and Sneaker Index of water clarity. The park was purchased in 1984 with Project Open Space Money and leased to Calvert County.

How King’s Landing will use Wisner’s work and heritage is in discussion. One possibility, according to Dwight Williams, chief of Calvert’s Natural Resources Division, is a Sacred Song Circle along the river.

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