Jack Louis August
Jack Louis August
  • January 7, 1954 - January 20, 2017
  • Prescott, Arizona

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Dr. Jack L. August, Jr.
Our State Historian

Jack Louis August, Jr., Ph.D., age 63, passed peacefully Friday, January 20, 2017, with his wife, Kathy Flower August, and family by his bedside at Banner University of Arizona Hospital in Phoenix. Jack lived in Prescott, Arizona but also maintained a home in Phoenix where he served the State of Arizona as State Historian and Director of Institutional Advancement at the Arizona Capital Museum in the Division of Library, Archives and Public Records under the Secretary of State. While his job title may seem dulling, Jack was a stunningly colorful character. As Jack himself would put it in his inimitable humorous way, he was one of the good guys that "left the planet" way before his time.
Born in Philadelphia to Jack L. August, Sr., and Theresa J. August in 1954, his family returned to Arizona when Jack was seven years old. During his grade-school years, he already began to stand out both athletically and in the classroom, while also developing the precocious social skills that marked his adult life. Coached in many sports by his father, a long-time coach at Madison Meadows Elementary School in North Central Phoenix, Jack excelled in boxing, swimming, diving, track and field, football, basketball and baseball. While a student athlete at Central High School (Class of 1971), it was not uncommon for Jack to compete at a track meet or swimming/diving meet, complete his events, then change uniforms en route to the next venue and compete in the evening basketball or football game. Jack not only held state records in swimming and diving, but he also set the state record mark in pole vaulting. Lettering four years in track and swimming/diving; and three years each in football and basketball; Jack garnered 18 varsity letters in a career deserving of his All-State and All-American accolades. Jack's high-school letter sweater had so many medals, it looked like a chandelier.
Yale University recognized Jack's talents and welcomed him as a student-athlete on its swimming and diving team. Jack resided at the Silliman College with roommate, Bobby Shriver, and whole-heartedly embraced the emolumentum that Ivy League college life could offer to a bright-eyed, bushy-haired enthusiast from Arizona. At Yale Jack attained a laser-like focus on the academic issues that framed the development of the American Southwest. While he won an Ivy League diving championship, he also delved into his studies of who he was and from where he came under the mentor of renowned Southwest History Professor, Howard R. Lamar. He was heartily-active in the various social strands at Yale where he developed life-long relationships with students, professors, and New Haven locals, and still revisited old friends from the '70's at the Yale-Harvard Football games he attended each Fall.
Upon graduation from Yale in 1975, Jack spent a year studying French and teaching English at Aux en Provence, France. Already fluent in Spanish, Jack quickly obtained French fluency before returning to Arizona where he continued to teach at the Green Fields School while beginning his graduate studies at the University of Arizona. During the late 1970's in Tucson, Jack began to plant the seeds of his legendary presence as an academic authority in institutional history of the American Southwest. Jack coached diving at the University of Arizona while also establishing himself as a serious graduate student. His Master's thesis examined the development of Japanese internment camps in Arizona during World War II.
Jack obtained his doctorate in history from the University of New Mexico in 1984. His doctoral thesis remained on an Arizona theme: the life and career of Arizona Senator Carl Hayden. After obtaining his Ph.D. from UNM, Dr. Jack continued his research on Senator Hayden's impact while serving a year in Washington D.C. as a Scholar in Residence at the National Endowment for the Humanities. Later, Jack published his first book, Vision in the Desert: Carl Hayden and Hydropolitics of the American Southwest, a publication that has become considered a seminal study of the environmental political history of the American Southwest.
Dr. Jack was a regular contributor to the Arizona Republic and appeared periodically on Horizon and on radio shows on NPR and KJZZ to discuss the political, historical or literary topics of the day. Since 2007 Jack served as the Scholar in Residence for the Southwest Center for History and Public Policy, a non-profit and non-partisan 501 c 3 corporation. Over the past five years he secured research grants of more than $1 million from the Flinn Foundation, International Genomics Consortium, and Snell & Wilmer, LLC. Author of ten books and scores of articles in peer-reviewed journals on the legal, political, and natural resource history of the American West, he was a former Fulbright Scholar to Canada and National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellow at the University of Oregon. Dr. Jack also worked with Snell & Wilmer, LLC as a Visiting Scholar in Legal History. Previously, he served as an historian in Northern Arizona University's Statewide Programs, where he taught courses in Western Water Policy and the New American West for the Master's in Liberal Studies Program and courses about the American Environment, American West, Far Southwest, and Arizona, via interactive instructional television for NAU. He also taught both graduates and undergraduates and served in administrative roles at the University of Arizona, University of Houston, Arizona State University and at Prescott College.

In addition to teaching and writing, Dr. Jack was continuously engaged as an expert witness for various private and public agencies. Jack served as an expert witness for the Salt River Project and Resolution Copper Company on issues concerning natural resource history, land use, and mineral rights. Also, he was engaged as historian and expert witness for the Arizona Attorney General's Office where his work focused on Indian versus non-Indian water issues and state trust lands. Dr. Jack served as an expert witness for Gupo Mexico, Arizona State University, the City of Tempe, the City