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Remembering long-time OBA Master Instructor Kenny Preston


Last week OBA lost a friend of magnificent proportions. Our beloved Kenny, respected by all, loved by most and treasured by many. We also lost Kenny's sister, Carol Brown who is just as loved by many in the OBA family.


Kenny was involved with OBA since 1967. Starting out as a participant going on trips, OBA’s key founder, Helen Mary Williams quickly noticed Kenny’s leadership skills. Kenny moved through the ranks of the OBA staffing levels starting out as a Jr. Counselor in 1968, back then they were called “repeaters” now they are called the Youth Advisory Council (YAC). By 1971 Kenny was a Counselor (Instructor 1) by 1973 Kenny was a Sr. Counselor, (instructor 2) in 1974 Kenny made Leader, (Instructor 3). Kenny was on the first team of OBA staff to work in Golden Trout camp in 1969, (OBA’s current basecamp), in fact he helped to build the new trail into the camp. Kenny was on the last OBA team to use Old Army Pass. A frightfully dangerous, soaring footpath over the 12,000 - foot pass, long abandoned for the safer New Army Pass trail. Kenny was also on the first OBA staffing team to climb Mount Whitney via the mountaineer’s route. Kenny led sierra backpacking trips for OBA for 30 years and was on the first OBA mid-winter, staff scout through a 15 - foot sierra snowpack.

Kenny loved the wilderness and backpacked with his best friends throughout wilderness in Canada, Wyoming, Wisconsin, New York, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and many other areas.


Kenny loved OBA and dedicated most of his life to making sure OBA fulfilled its mission to connect underserved urban youth to nature. Kenny would come to wear many hats at OBA ultimately working as Office Manager, Master Instructor, Executive Director, board member, Chairman of the Board, grant writer, and co-creator of the Diverse Outdoors Leaders Institute, (DOLI).


All four founding directors of OBA, Helen Mary Williams, Bud Ross, Helen and Leroy Criss mentored and respected Kenny. Kenny is now with his lifelong friend, fellow OBA master instructor Franke Thomas. Although Kenny worked in banking for over 30 years, he never left OBA and OBA will never forget him.


OBA will celebrate Kenny’s life on May 1st 2021, location and time to be determined and announced soon. If you have a photo of yourself and Kenny that you would like displayed please send a copy to Jorge Cortez at jcortez@obainc.org