Bastrop, Tx–Doyen of Bastrop County movements to protect environmental quality and preserve scenic open space John Prager, 84, died alone in a local nursing home Feb. 13.
Friends and associates held a gathering in his memory in Webberville earlier this month not far from the rude cabin where he lived for decades near FM 969. He is survived by a son, Paul, and a daughter , Heidi who became his legal guardian at the end of his life.
Prager was a veteran of World War II in the Pacific Theater and retired from enlisted service in the U.S. Air Force after 23 years. Subsequently the West Virginia native was a graduate student in rhetoric and literature, with a keen interest in contemporary poetry, at The University of Texas at Austin.
He was among the first handful of volunteers to begin organizing opposition to plans by the Lower Colorado River Authority to open a lignite strip mine at Camp Swift north of Bastrop in 1979. He became an organizing member of the Sayersville Historical Society and the Central Texas Lignite Watch, which also battled strip mine plans in Fayette and other parts of Bastrop County.
In later years Prager became a mentor to leaders of organizations including the Bastrop County Environmental Network, Neighbors for Neighbors and the Pines and Prairies Land Trust. He was among the first to realize the potential and call for the creation of a local groundwater conservation district.
In addition to his interests in history, natural science and the arts, Prager also devoted some years to the cultivation on grape vines with an eye to wine making with various partners. A sociable man, he valued both the friendships and the products those ventures led to.