Samuel Dyke (1932 - 2014)

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Samuel Hull Dyke

Salisbury-Samuel Hull Dyke, 81, died suddenly at Peninsula Regional Medical Center on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. Born in Pittsburgh, the son of Mary and Samuel E. Dyke, he moved to Lancaster, Pa., when he was very young and grew up surrounded by the gardens, fields, woods and streams of Lancaster County. From an early age, he was fascinated by nature, and especially by birds.

Sam attended the public schools around Lancaster, graduated from McCaskey High School, then studied forestry at Penn State and Yale University. After receiving his Master of Forestry degree at Yale, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he served at Fort Knox and then near Frankfurt, Germany.

After discharge from military service, he moved to Salisbury, where he was employed by the P.H. Glatfelter (paper) Co. as a management forester for 40 years. As vice president of the company's Glatfelter Pulp Wood subdivision, he supervised Eastern Shore operations until his retirement in 1997.

Sam joined the Society of American Foresters in 1954 when he was a senior at Penn State; the SAF honored him as a Golden Member of 50 years (or more). He was very active in the Maryland/Delaware chapter and served a term as chairman. In 1973, he was appointed to the Maryland State Inaugural Board of Registration of Professional Foresters, and was elected vice-chairman. He used his expertise in land acquisition to broker conservation easements leading to the protection of extensive tracts of land, including the Nature Conservancy's Nassawango Creek Reserve. His efforts were recognized when the Maryland/District of Columbia Chapter of the Nature Conservancy presented him with their Conservation Achievement Award in 2000.

Throughout his entire life, his fascination with birds was a constant. Wherever he lived — Lancaster, State College, New Haven, Kentucky, Germany, Salisbury — he observed birds whenever and wherever he could. His knowledge and expertise, coupled with meticulous recordkeeping, enabled contributions to the science of ornithology, along with his leadership as president of the Tri-County Bird Club, organizer of Christmas bird counts, field trip leader, and Elderhostel instructor. His birding trips took him throughout the North American Continent and, more recently, throughout the world. Meanwhile, for 53 years, he recorded the date each spring when wood thrushes were first heard singing in his backyard.

Sam was also a hunter, and on the Eastern Shore he took up duck hunting, which uses equipment such as duck decoys. He quickly learned the complexities and varieties of decoy carving (or manufacture) and began his decades-long immersion into the study of decoys and their makers. At the same time, there began an explosion of recognition for two Crisfield decoy carvers, Lem and Steve Ward, who had been quietly furnishing hunters with their superb products since the 1930s. Area businessmen, hunters, and carvers joined together in the 1960s to form the Ward Foundation, an organization that promoted recognition and appreciation for the Ward Brothers and decoy/bird carving. The Foundation organized carving shows and a competition that evolved into the annual World Carving Competition held each spring in Ocean City. There was also a small museum in a wing of Holloway Hall at Salisbury University, the precursor of the splendid facility now gracing the shore of Schumaker Pond. Sam was involved in leading and planning these projects from the very beginning. When he retired from the Glatfelter Co. he took on the job of director of the current museum for three years and played a huge role in the successful transfer of the museum into the Salisbury University community.

At the time of his death, he was chairman of the museum board and especially active in curating, designing and constructing exhibits. He also made major contributions to scholarship of the Eastern Shore's water fowling heritage and he was published in major magazines, journals, and books.

Sam's knowledge of nature and outdoor skills were passed on to area youth, as he served as Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 149 at Bethesda Methodist Church for 12 years.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Ann Dyke, and four children, Samuel Ellerslie Dyke (Dr. Susan Capelle), Deborah Egan (Tom Egan), Carol Largey (David Largey Jr.) and David Hull Dyke (Heather). Also surviving are a grandson, David Largey III, and a brother, John Endicott Dyke, of Atlanta.

There will be a public celebration of Sam's life at the Ward Museum on Saturday, July 26, at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University, 909 South Schumaker Drive, Salisbury, MD 21804.

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Published in The Daily Times on July 13, 2014
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