The “father” of Smokey Bear, who warns children against forest fires, died Wednesday in Boise.
Kester “K.D.” Flock, 94, pushed to make Smokey Bear a symbol of forest fire safety in the 1940s.
Flock pressed the Forest Service - even going above his supervisors to convince officials in Washington, D.C. - to use a live bear as the symbol of forest fire prevention.
The real Smokey Bear was a cub hurt in a New Mexico forest fire, where Flock was stationed as a supervisor. Prior to the introduction of Smokey Bear, a cartoon bear figure taught youngsters about safety.
Flock told officials that the bear cub would be a more realistic teaching tool.
He accompanied the bear cub on a portion of the trip to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Flock was honored in 1994 as part of Smokey’s 50th anniversary.
His mission to educate children about fire safety did not stop after he retired as supervisor at the Boise National Forest in 1958. He continued to talk to children about safety at many Boise schools.
Flock was born in Grangeville, attended the University of Idaho and graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in forestry in 1929. He received a master’s degree in public administration from American University in Washington, D.C., in 1940.
Memorial services for Flock will be held at 10 a.m. today at Boise’s Relyea Funeral Chapel.
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