Thomas E. Lovejoy ’63 BA, ’71 PhD (1941–2021)
Conservation biologist Thomas E. Lovejoy ’63 BA, ’71 PhD, known for his decades-long field research on deforestation in the Amazon, inventing “debt for nature” swaps, and promoting the term “biological diversity,” died December 25, 2021, at his home in McLean, Virginia. He was 80.
Lovejoy’s commitment to reducing deforestation and its impacts on plants and animals and his work to call attention to the concept that an increase in carbon dioxide would lead to global temperature increases put him at the forefront of some of the most important issues facing humanity in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Lovejoy studied biology at Yale and was a longtime member of the YSE Leadership Council. He also served as an assistant at Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History and as an advisory board member of the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies. He held several highly visible positions at leading NGOs, including chief biodiversity advisor for the environment for the World Bank, assistant secretary at the Smithsonian Institute, and executive vice president of the World Wildlife Fund. In April, Lovejoy received the National Geographic Society’s 2022 Hubbard Medal posthumously. The award recognizes Lovejoy’s “extraordinary contribution to conservation biology and understanding and protection of the Amazon.”
“Tom was an amazing role model. He was a scholar with real-world impact in not only advancing — even creating — a field but also working in complex diplomacy with governments to advance conservation and reduce deforestation,” says YSE Dean Indy Burke. “He believed with all his heart that each of us could make a difference with our science and with our diplomatic and empathetic advocacy. He was an eternal optimist despite what he witnessed. I’ll always remember his elvish smile.”
YSE Oastler Professor of Population and Community Ecology Oswald Schmitz says that while Lovejoy’s research findings were sobering, he was never discouraged.
“Tom Lovejoy was that rare breed of scientist who had multifaceted capabilities. He not only had the capacity for deep, technical scientific thinking and analysis but also the ability to step back and distill that technical knowledge in ways that helped solve environmental problems,” Schmitz says. “He was a genuine and caring colleague and an excellent mentor to young scientists aspiring to assume their own careers at the nexus of scientific research and application. He made our world a better place in which to live.”
Friend and colleague Alexander Brash ’85 MFS, who worked with Lovejoy at WWF, says Lovejoy was able to give voice to conservation by bringing the issue to the attention of influential and politically connected people.
“Tom ever danced on the edge of politics and science, even inventing the notion of nature-for-debt swaps in the 1980s as a way for wealthy nations to fund nature preserves in developing countries — an idea that has been revisited in the form of carbon tax credits,” says Brash. “He spoke tirelessly about the issues important to him. Always trying to reach a wider audience, he leveraged his charm. I will always think of him as Mother Nature’s elf on Earth — always smiling, self-deprecating, witty, welcoming, and immeasurably bright.”
Allen U. Bedell ’66 MF (1938–2022) passed away on January 3, 2022. He was born and raised in Louisiana and earned his BSF degree from the LSU School of Forestry in 1960. Upon graduation, he was employed by Fordyce Lumber Company in Arkansas, where he met and married his wife, Lou. He took a leave of absence from Fordyce when it was sold to Georgia-Pacific Corporation in order to attend YSE. Allen went on to start two family tree-chipping businesses: Circle B Logging and Quality Stand Density Control, which he owned and operated until his retirement in 2006. Allen served on the Executive Committee of the Arkansas Forestry Association for over 31 years. While president of the association, he was instrumental in adopting the National Log-A-Load for Kids Program, which has raised over $10,000,000 for Arkansas Children’s Hospital. In 1991, Allen joined nine loggers in establishing the Arkansas Timber Producers Association. In 1998, Timber Harvesting magazine recognized the Bedell family — Allen, wife Lou, son David, and daughter Donna Twyford — as the winner of its inaugural Logging Business of the Year Award. In March 2017, Allen was inducted into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame, being only the fourth representative of forestry to be so recognized. The LSU Alumni Hall of Distinction inducted him into the 2017 Hall of Fame of the Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries Alumni Association. Allen was a lifelong, devoted member of the United Methodist Church, serving as a Stephen Minister; chairing committees; singing in the choir; and serving in all areas of local missions as well as those in Juarez and Rio Bravo, Mexico. He taught Bible studies and Sunday school classes for over 50 years.
Robert S. Bond ’52 MF (1925–2021) passed away on August 28, 2021, at the age of 96. He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts; enlisted in the United States Coast Guard in 1943; and trained as a signalman and navigator serving in the Pacific during World War II. Since his early high school years, Bob knew he wanted to pursue a career in forestry. Following a year of post-high school grad studies at Cushing Academy, he received his bachelor’s in forestry from the University of Massachusetts, an MF from YSE, and a doctorate in forest economics from the College of Forestry at Syracuse University. His career included two summers on a U.S. Forest Service lookout in Montana, working for a private lumber company in Arkansas, spending two years as a forester with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Resources, serving for 21 years on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Forestry Department, and serving for 10 years as director of the School of Forest Resources at Penn State. Bob was elected a fellow to the Society of American Foresters. He co-owned a woodlot in central Massachusetts, where he managed the forest and built a family “camp” and eventually a retirement home. Bob married Barbara Ann Simmons (who died in 2012) in 1950. They had a long and happy marriage of 62 years. Bob was active into his mid-80s, working in the woods and playing tennis and golf. In the years after Barbara’s death, Bob and a family friend, Sue Bourne, became companions and enjoyed their time together talking, watching sports, and traveling.
Jeffery Burley ’62 MF, ’65 PhD (1936–2021) passed away shortly after Christmas 2021. Jeff went to Oxford in 1957 to study, first for a BA and then a master’s in forestry at Yale. The subject occupied a contentious position within the university. For more than half a century, a battle had been waged between those who saw the huge practical importance of research and education in forestry, particularly in poor parts of the world, and those who did not see it as an academic subject worthy of a place at Oxford. He completed his PhD at Yale, where his thesis was on the genetic variation of Sitka spruce. He lived and worked for several years on agricultural research in Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) before returning to Oxford. Jeff’s experiences on the ground in Zambia were hugely influential, and he recognized that pure science alone could not solve problems that were at heart a complex interaction among social, economic, and biological elements. From 1969 to 1976, Jeff worked for the Commonwealth Forestry Institute before becoming a university lecturer in forestry from 1976 to 1983. In 1983 he was appointed head of the University of Oxford Department of Forestry, a role he filled until 1985. Jeff served as director of the Oxford Forestry Institute from 1985 to 2002 and, among the hundreds of academic publications that he either authored or contributed to, edited the “Encyclopedia of Forest Sciences.” From 1996 to 2000, he was president of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations and helped to drive a shift in viewpoint away from a focus on forest production to the environmental and social benefits of forests. As an emeritus fellow at Oxford’s Green Templeton College, Jeff spearheaded the Fellowship Appeal 2020: Climate Change Imperative and was actively engaged in the college’s sustainability agenda until shortly before he died. Jeff was honored by the YSE Alumni Association Board with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015.
Donald E. Foster ’65 MF (1929–2021) passed away on December 23, 2021. Don was born in New Haven and grew up in Connecticut along with his brother, Bob, who passed away in 2001. Don graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1952 and was subsequently drafted by the Army and served for two years during the Korean War. After his military service, he pursued his lifelong interest in conservation, forestry, and America’s national parks. He completed the National Park Service’s Park Ranger Training Program and went on to YSE, where he received an MF in 1965. Don’s career in forestry and park management took him all over the world. He was a park ranger and forester at Yellowstone National Park, Pinnacles National Monument in California, and the Western Forestry Center in Portland, Oregon. He also worked as a service forester for the Royal College of Forestry in Sweden and consulted with private landowners on timber management and environmental protection. In 1977, Don moved to Roanoke, Virginia, with his wife, attorney Tonita (“Toni”) Minge Foster, and helped manage her two legal clinics. They raised their son, David, in Virginia. Don greatly enjoyed travel and traveled with his family all over the U.S. as well as abroad, visiting Australia, China, Russia, and numerous countries in Africa and Europe.
R. Holt Hogan ’57 MF (1931–2020) passed away peacefully at home on December 13, 2020. A resident of Keysville, Virginia, since 1977, he owned and operated Ontario Hardwood Company. He was always interested in working with men and equipment to produce a useful product. He made a variety of innovations, including high-speed hardwood kilns and stacking practices that have become widely used in the industry. He embraced new ideas and emerging technologies.
A graduate of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, he served in the Counterintelligence Corps of the U.S. Army during the occupation of Japan at the end of the Korean War. He then earned an MF from YSE and worked for various forest product companies until he settled in Keysville. During his retirement, he enjoyed entertaining friends and family, windsurfing, and woodworking.
Andrew L. Johnson ’68 MFS (1937–2021) passed away on June 19, 2021, after a brief illness. He was a prominent conservationist, residing in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. In 1953, while attending a Boy Scout Jamboree in Irvine, California, the then-16-year-old encountered organizations dedicated to natural resources and conservation, which became his passion. He served as executive director of the Brandywine Conservancy during its formative years from 1970 to 1976, during which he oversaw the renovation of the old mill building that became the Brandywine River Museum. He was president of the Natural Lands Trust from 1979 to 1988 and went on to found the North American Land Trust, serving as its president until he retired in 2015. The nonprofit NALT — a land conservation group that has worked on more than 550 projects in 23 states involving more than 136,000 acres of protected land — was Andrew’s crowning professional achievement. Andrew had a keen sense of business and what would motivate people to do the right, charitable thing; he saw things from different angles and would come up with creative solutions.
Evar L. Knudston ’58 MF (1935–2021) passed away on January 21, 2021. He was born in Keene, New Hampshire, and raised in Warwick, Massachusetts, six miles from the junction of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst at a time when only 5,000 students attended the school. Evar retired from a civil service career of 34 years with the U.S. Forest Service, except for two years in the Army in Korea. Evar spent his summers fighting forest fires throughout the United States. He kicked off the fall each year with time spent hunting elk at Core’s Camp. Family Thanksgivings and Christmases were spent at the beach in the camp trailer beachcombing, crabbing, and clamming. He instilled his love for the mountains and the beach in all of his kids. After his wife, Sandy, retired, they traveled to the casinos of Oregon, Washington, and Nevada to enjoy the shows and walk along the riverfronts and beaches. As time went on, Evar became an avid reader, with Louis L’Amour being one of his favorites. His commitment to the Boy Scouts started in 1948 as a scout and carried through to 1995. He participated in activities throughout the years with annual canoe trips on the McKenzie and Willamette rivers in Oregon.
Virginia (“Ginger”) M. Reilly ’76 MF (1952–2021) passed away on September 2, 2021, in Seward, Alaska, while on a vacation with her husband, son, and daughter. Ginger was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, on April 9, 1952, the daughter of Walter and Frances Reilly. She grew up in nearby Linden, New Jersey, and graduated from Linden High School. Ginger graduated from Rutgers University in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in forestry. She went on to receive her MF from YSE in 1976. Ginger began her professional career in Texas with Kirby Forest Industries. She moved to Summerville in 1979, where she joined Westvaco, met and married her husband, and raised her family. Ginger retired from Westvaco after 27 years of service. Her career at Westvaco included a number of different roles, including maintenance manager, technical forester, and minerals manager. She was most proud of her service as district forester, guiding over a dozen people and 90,000 acres of land through the worst fire season the company ever experienced as well as the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo. Upon retirement, Ginger turned her energy toward her many passions. She was an active master gardener, volunteering at Magnolia Plantation. Ginger also served as a South Carolina long-term care ombudsman and served in several roles with local and community schools. She was very active in the Society of American Foresters at local, state, and regional levels, serving in a number of offices. Those who knew Ginger knew her as a caring friend, a loving wife and beloved mother, a lover of plants and animals, and someone who would do anything to help a person in need.
Harry G. Spencer ’54 MF (1928–2016) passed away on August 10, 2016, but we only learned of his death recently. He was reared and educated in New Jersey. Following high school, he served in the U.S. Army at the end of World War II. After his service, he graduated from Rutgers University and then received his MF from YSE. He married Patricia Mendenhall on June 10, 1953, and worked many years for Weyerhaeuser, then was the head forester for Roseburg Lumber and for Sun Studs. Later he started Growth Unlimited Tree Nursery. He was musically gifted, playing both clarinet and oboe in Coos Bay, Oregon. He loved woodworking, carving, and making stained glass windows. He was a member of the Society of American Foresters.
William I. Stein ’52 MF, ’63 PhD (1922–2021) was born July 22, 1922, in Wurzburg, Germany, and died nearly 99 years later in Corvallis, Oregon, on June 28, 2021. In early 1929, after managing a large farm near Flandreau, his family sought a milder climate and purchased a 54-acre farm north of Dundee, Oregon. He attended Pacific College in Newberg, Oregon, and was awarded a BS in 1943. He was drafted in May 1943 and then, enabled by the GI Bill, he completed a bachelor’s in forestry at Oregon State College in 1948. He earned his master’s and PhD at YSE. As a junior forester with the USDA Forest Service in Seneca, Oregon, he marked trees for harvest. He then transferred to the Wind River Experimental Forest near Carson, Washington, where he began a 41-year research career with the Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. His tasks at Wind River included remeasuring reforestation plots, establishing growth plots, and performing cooperative work on rodent control. At the Cascade-Siskiyou Research Center in Roseburg, Oregon, he conducted reforestation studies and led a seeding, planting, and nursery practices research unit for 13 years based in Portland and Corvallis. Large-scale field studies on reforestation alternatives started before retirement in 1990 continued to draw much of his time as an emeritus researcher. He had been a member of the Society of American Foresters since 1949.
John P. (“Jack”) Vimmerstedt ’58 MF ’65 DF (1931–2021) passed away on September 3, 2021. He was born in Jamestown, New York, on June 5, 1931. Jack worked for the U.S. Forest Service, Bent Creek, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina. He pursued further education in forestry at North Carolina State University and Yale, receiving a master’s and DF from YSE. Jack worked at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, Ohio, until his retirement.His professional career in forestry research addressed reclamation of soils on strip mines, soil management in high-use areas such as campgrounds, and use of waste streams such as sewage sludge to improve forest soils. Jack taught and mentored graduate students at Ohio State University, where he was known for his contagious enthusiasm and deep knowledge of woodland ecosystems. His passion for forestry extended to his volunteer work, and he served on the Wooster Shade Tree Commission and the Ohio Governor’s Forestry Commission. For many years, Jack assisted in managing the Christmas tree plantation for the Wayne County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League.
Robert A. Walton ’57 MF (1929–2019) served in the Navy after he graduated from high school in Shreveport, Louisiana. He earned his BS in forestry from LSU and was hired by Union Bag Paper Co. in Savannah, Georgia. In 1954, Bob married Annie (“Billye”) Jenkins and had three children. His oldest daughter was born in Yale New Haven Hospital while Bob was a student at YSE after receiving a scholarship in 1956. He received his degree from Yale in 1957 and continued to work for UBPC (later, Union-Camp Paper Co.) for a total of 41 years. After retirement, he and Billye moved to Lake Prince Woods, a retirement community in Suffolk, Virginia. Bob passed away on March 30, 2019, and was interred in Horton Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk, Virginia. “Bob was very proud of his time at Yale!” says Billye.