Richard Franklin Watt, age 92, died peacefully at sunrise on May 4th, 2013, at Spring Lake Village, Santa Rosa. Born on January 16, 1921 in the Bronx, NY, he attended PS 28 and DeWitt Clinton High School. He received his BS in Forestry (cum laude) in 1943 from Syracuse University, where he met his wife, Rachel Mary Gates of Franklin, Vermont. Richard and Rachel were married on December 30, 1944, beginning a 68-year marriage of mutual love. Days later, Richard reported for service to the Army Signal Corps as a 2nd Lieutenant. He served in the occupation army in the Philippines and Tokyo. On his return from service, Richard earned his MS in Forestry from Yale (cum laude) in 1947 and taught for a year as a forestry instructor at Penn State before joining the US Forest Service as a research scientist for an illustrious 34-year career which took him, Rachel and their growing family to Idaho, Washington, Minnesota, Missouri and Pennsylvania. Richard earned his PhD in 1961 from the University of Minnesota in forest ecology and tree physiology. It was there that he established a research lab for the Lake States Forest Experiment Station. During his career he published over 50 articles and presented thirteen research papers regarding western white pine management, forest assessment, and northern hardwoods and oaks. He also was listed in "Who's Who in Science." Richard was an early conservationist. In 1976 he was asked to oversee a 20-state urban forestry program focused on growing trees in large metropolitan areas; the program was a success and continues today. After retirement to Worcester, Vermont, where he and Rachel designed and built an energy-conserving home, he served as Executive Director of the New England Society of American Foresters which presented him with a Distinguished Service Award in 1999. Richard transmitted his love of the outdoors and intense intellectual curiosity to his daughters and grandchildren. He was an inspired photographer, and loved gardening, woodworking, bird-watching, swimming, skiing, sailing, and travelling. He was an avid reader of scientific journals and poetry. Richard played the piano and clarinet, sang in local choirs, and conducted symphonies in the living room. He had a quick wit and at times was a practical joker, but was always kind and compassionate. Richard lived his life with purpose and integrity, an unwavering devotion for his wife, and love for his family. He will be dearly missed by his wife and four daughters: Deborah Watt of Oakland, CA; Constance Watt of Metamora, IL; Jennifer Watt (Patricia Smith) of Ashland, OR; and Kathryn Watt of Oakland, CA. Grandchildren include: Jeff Stanford; Mandy Stanford (Mike Russell); Kurt Blickenstaff (Cassandra Doe); and Duncan Blickenstaff. Please honor Richard's memory and dedication to forestry: Enjoy a walk in nature or plant a tree (www.arbordayfoundation.org). A memorial service and ice cream social reception will be held at Spring Lake Village on Saturday June 1, at 2:00 p.m.
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Published in the Press Democrat from May 12 to May 13, 2013