B. Dennis Auth

Obituary
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B. Dennis Auth left his earthly home and went to be with the Lord on April 4, 2013.

He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Jeannine McCarl Auth; three daughters, April (Jerry) Weiner, Alison (Tim) Fratarcangelo, Jennifer (John) Gaddy; his stepson, George Willis; stepdaughter, Joni (Dave) Cichra; brother, Dr. David (Joanne) Auth; three grandsons, three granddaughters including Emily Willis, with whom he had a special bond, and one great-granddaughter.

He is preceded in death by his father, Eugene Auth, his mother, Mildred Auth, and his brother, Ron Auth.

How do you measure the worth of a man? The number of degrees he holds? His net worth? His climb up the career ladder?

Dennis was a man of many interests and talents. He grew up on the north shore of Chicago and began his college education studying watercolor at the Chicago Institute of Art, mining engineering at Iowa State, biology and chemistry at Northwestern. Considering the possibility of becoming a doctor, he joined the United States Army and graduated from Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and served as a medical corpsman in radiology in a 1,000-bed field hospital in France.

Those plans were cut short when his father died at a young age and Dennis took an emergency discharge to assist his mother. Moving to Florida, he continued his education at Florida Southern, receiving a B.S. in biological sciences; then graduate work at Florida State University in botany, biochemistry and genetics electron microscopy.

It all served him well when he joined the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission as a field biologist, the job he said was his most loved.

A man known for his exhaustive knowledge on almost any topic, he was an ardent lover of all things wild from birds to snakes to rivers to mountains and rocks. One of the several awards he was most proud of was a National Wildlife Federation Water Conservationist of the Year Award for his work on three Florida rivers: the St. Johns, the Suwannee and the Apalachicola.

He accepted the position of the first executive director of the St. Johns River Water Management District in 1974. It was here his reputation for tenacity, an encyclopedic mind and an unwillingness to accept the current approach to water management and politics sparked many battles. Where structural approaches to Florida rivers were the norm, Dennis"s drumbeat was non-structural, believing the only way to preserve the rivers for future generations was to purchase the floodplains and associated uplands. This was not a popular position at the time. Among the more kind descriptions of this political rebel was "crazy." During the early years of the District, he authored the majority of the original legislation protecting the St. Johns and spearheaded the purchases of thousands of acres of precious floodplain. Dennis was known as a man of his word, and one 29,000 acre purchase, Seminole Ranch, was done initially with a handshake. There were other purchases critical to the health of the river, including Turnbull Hammock in Volusia County, this one with the support of Trust for Public Lands. He also worked at length with the Nature Conservancy.

Is this how we measure the worth of Dennis Auth?

He left government and established Auth & Associates Inc. Environmental & Water Management Consultants. He consulted for NASA, Kings Bay Submarine Base and Renison Goldfield Consolidated, an Australian mining company. He was privileged to design their reclamation projects and see his work bear fruit as nature brought the bare lands back to bloom.

Is this how we measure the worth of Dennis Auth?

Possibly, but we believe it was ultimately measured with the manner in which he faced a complexity of complicated, long-term illness including losing his central vision with never a complaint.

Dennis always had a huge agenda and a large world, but gradually his world became smaller as his health declined, and he made the transition with grace, dignity and his ever-lasting humor, all with God"s mercy.

Those of us who loved him, and there are so many who do, believe this is how we measure the worth of the man, Dennis Auth.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Monday, April 8, at Anastasia Baptist Church with Dr. Walter West and Pastor Ron Moore (retired) officiating followed by a short graveside service at Evergreen Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be made to the Anastasia Baptist Church Building Fund, 1650 AIA South, St. Augustine, FL 32082.

Craig Funeral Home Crematory Memorial Park (www.craigfuneralhome.com) is in charge of arrangements.


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Funeral Home
Craig Funeral Home Memorial Park
1475 Old Dixie Highway St. Augustine, FL 32086
(904) 824-1672
Funeral Home Details
Published in St. Augustine Record on Apr. 7, 2013
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