Ney was born on January 17, 1931, in a tin-roof shack on the edge of a lime rock mine in Levy County, Florida. At the age of three, he moved with his family from the hamlet of Williston, Florida (1935 population: 862) to the Capital City (11,725), where he grew up. He attended the former Caroline Brevard Elementary School and Leon High School and thoroughly enjoyed the benefits of small-town culture. In 1948, he enrolled in the new Florida State University to try his hand at further education. As the Korean War started soon after, he joined the Marine Corps officer training program and was commissioned as a second lieutenant upon graduation. He served two years, primarily in amphibious reconnaissance duty, and remained in the Marine Corps Reserve for the following thirty years, eventually retiring as a colonel.
Following his release from active duty in 1954, he returned to FSU for graduate work. With a new MA degree in hand, he then set out to pursue a career in the field of land use and management, with a special interest in public lands. His desire to improve the quality and management of Florida's vast public land holdings governed his actions, in both private and public work, for the following thirty-three years. In 1970, he was appointed Florida State Parks Director, a position he held until his retirement in 1989. During his tenure, Florida's state parks program was doubled in size, and its management placed on a professional basis. Ney authorized the establishment of the Florida Park Service Archives Collection with the hopes of eventually establishing a Ranger Museum.
Upon retirement, he was honored by Florida's governor and cabinet as "Director Emeritus of Florida State Parks". He also was recognized for his work by the U. S. Department of the Interior with its "Conservation Service Award", its highest honor given to an individual other than its own employees. During this time he helped organize the Florida Society of Geographers and served as its second president, and was admitted to the FSU adjunct faculty to teach geography. In 1975, he was selected as an FSU "Grad Made Good" in the second year of the program.
Following retirement from public service, Ney was recruited to be the first executive director of the National Association of State Park Directors, a position he held for nine years. Simultaneously, he served in a similar position for the National Association of State Outdoor Recreation Liaison Officers for twelve years and joined the staff of the National Parks and Conservation Association for three years as its Southeastern representative. He took advantage of his spare time to do extensive volunteer work for the Florida International Volunteer Corps and the U. S. Agency for International Development in Central America and the Caribbean Islands. Much of this effort was in Belize, where he worked closely with Maya Indians on programs to improve the eco-tourism potential of their reservations. Among his many other publications, which included a regular report on the nation's state parks for the "Book of the States" published by the Council of State Governments, he authored two books. One of these, "The State Park Movement in America', remains the primary reference work on that subject.
Locally, Ney's interests centered mostly on Boy Scouts and historic preservation. Over a period of fifty years, he served in almost every capacity in the Boy Scout organization, from assistant scoutmaster to explorer advisor to district chairman to council commissioner. He was recognized for his efforts with receipt of the Silver Beaver award, and in 1992 he was named a "Distinguished Eagle Scout" by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He was a strong supporter of the Tallahassee Junior Museum, serving as president in 1972-73. He was active also in the Murat House Association, serving as president, and in the former Florida Heritage Foundation, where he was a founding member.
Among his many other honors, he was selected, first for the Florida Tourism Roll of Honor, and later inducted into the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame.
Mission - Supporting the Florida Park Service, while striving to perpetuate the FPS family atmosphere and provide assistance to past and present employees in need.
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