Written by Joan Schneider, as part of the presentation to Bob Begole with the State Parks Volunteer Service Medalion Award
Bob Begole worked for over 35 years as an archaeologist in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and has lost count of the number of sites that he has recorded - somewhere between 2000 and 3000, he thinks. Bob's records and maps, accumulated since 1955, form the basis of what we know about the locations and contents of the cultural resources here.
Moreover, his devotion, selflessness, and generosity toward California State Parks and the archaeological record here in the Colorado Desert have provided us with well-documented collections, an interim place for safely keeping them, and the platform on which we continue to build an archaeological program that benefits the People of California.
From registered professional engineer and contractor, to archaeologist of renown, to serving ABF on the acquisition committee, to benefactor of the cultural resources of the Colorado Desert District - this is the path that Bob Begole has followed.
His archaeological interests led him back to college to take courses in anthropology and archaeology at California State University, Fullerton; he published articles in the Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Quarterly; he was accepted as a member of the Society of Professional Archaeologists -- all this as a volunteer for ABDSP.
Bob's love of archaeology has led him into the deep recesses of our desert and to the far corners of the earth in his desire to learn and understand human prehistory and history. He continues to guide staff archaeologists to sites that need attention.
And now he has surpassed even himself by making the long-held dream become a reality -- a permanent home for the Colorado Desert District archaeological collections. The Begole Archeological Research Center (BARC) provides a state-of-the-art curation facility for our collections and archives, both indoor and outdoor laboratory work space, and office areas for staff, volunteer archaeologists, and visiting researchers.
Even beyond this, Bob has created an endowment for encouraging archaeological research within the Colorado Desert District, the Begole Archaeological Research Grant program (BARG). The goal of the grant program is to financially aid student and professional research archaeologists so they will be able to expand their research and, in turn, expand and enrich our own understanding of our cultural resources within the CDD parks. The first grant round is currently underway with BARG announcements and applications already in the hands of the archaeological community.
Bob has made not only our dream, but his own dream, come true by both his exceptional and truly unique contributions to California State Parks - first, pioneering archaeological work, then preservation and protection of the results of that work, and finally, both figurative and literal foundations on which to build a cultural resources management program, par excellence.
State Park Archaeologist Mike Sampson and Bob Begole examine surface archaeological features in
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Bob worked for many years as a volunteer archaeologist and recorded numerous sites and features of cultural significance. His dedication is an inspiration to all of us.
(Photo by John Foster)