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Carl Sharsmith; Yosemite Naturalist

October 20, 1994

Carl Sharsmith, the ranger-naturalist whose nearly six decades at Yosemite National Park made him a national attraction in his own right, has died at his San Jose home.

Sharsmith was 91 when he died Friday--the National Park Service's oldest ranger.

Sharsmith's first park job was as a ranger-naturalist in Yosemite's Tuolumne Meadows in 1931. He became an alpine botanist who took visitors through Tuolumne Meadows, advising them to "look down, you might see something."

The park service said Sharsmith, who was interviewed by many newspaper and magazine writers over the years and was the subject of the book "Mountain Sage" by Elizabeth O'Neill, had "explored every nook and cranny of the park" during his lengthy career.

Born in New York, Sharsmith moved to California, where he taught school during the winter and began using his summer vacations to work as a ranger. He joined the National Park Service permanently in 1953 while teaching at Cal State San Jose, where he was a botany professor from 1950 to 1973.

He retired as a permanent park employee in 1973 but continued as a seasonal ranger until his death.

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