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WILLIAM H. EDDY


1928 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
WILLIAM H. EDDY Obituary
EDDY, William H. "Bill" Jr. Born April 12, 1928 in New York City, son of Grace Bissell Eddy and William Higby Eddy, died at age 88 at his home in Sutton, Vermont on April 29, 2016. He graduated from Williams College in 1949 where he studied literature, poetry and philosophy, and it was while at Williams that he first developed his thinking regarding the way the human mind looks at nature and how that perception evolves over human lifetimes and generations. This was the foundation for his involvement with the environment spanning five decades and five continents. In East Africa in the early 1960s, working for the New York Zoological Society under a grant from the Ford Foundation, he pioneered the development of Swahili language documentary films for raising awareness amongst African viewers about the economic importance of wildlife in the National Parks of Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. As Director of Education for the Tanzanian Parks (1961-1963), he produced films that were seen by literally hundreds of thousands of local Africans via mobile film units in the bush and in village schools. As a consultant with the U.S Park Service, Eddy recruited Park Service specialists to train Africans in modern techniques of wildlife management and environmental education. He was closely involved in the development of The College of African Wildlife Management in northern Tanzania and produced a Swahili recruiting film for this unique College that was shown throughout East Africa for many years. During the 1980, in conjunction with the work of UNESCO'S Integrated Project in Arid Lands in northern Kenya, Eddy began work on programs to help the pastoral Rendille tribe to better understand their own role in the spread of the surrounding desert. His innovative approach was to create recorded stories and characters that mimicked ancient Rendille myths through which he introduced simple ecological concepts about desert spread. It was during his work with the Rendille that Eddy became interested in how all perception of our surroundings is influenced by both language and culture. In the early 1970's he worked with the Conservation Foundation in Washington. D.C., Bill Eddy produced, in co-operation with the U.S. Park Service, a global environmental film and co-authored a book titled Consider the Process of Living, a prescient presentation of the perils of environmental degradation used by the Park Service and United States Information Services in furthering ecological awareness and development of national Parks worldwide. In later years Eddy's consultancy with the Park Service took him on cooperative environmental projects to Japan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India , Nepal, and Dominica in the Caribbean where, at the request of the Island Government, he designed and identified the boundaries for a National Park. In the mid to late 1980's Eddy was a consultant with the Peace Corps. Eddy was invited to develop training programs for new volunteers to help them better understand their own perceptual biases as Americans before they began working with other cultures. That work took him to Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica and back again to East Africa for his twenty-seventh trip to that continent. Eddy taught for 22 years in the Environmental Program at the University of Vermont. He was awarded an Honorary doctorate there in 1993. In 2006 he was awarded the Franklin Fairbanks prize by the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium in St. Johnsbury, Vermont to honor "his unique contributions to our understanding of the mind and the environment." In 2010 he was awarded the Williams College Bicentennial Medal for outstanding lifetime achievement in environmental education. his last book was The Other Side of the World, Essays and Stories on Mind and Nature. He founded the Fairbanks Museum's successful William Eddy Lecture Series. The series was created, in Bill's words, "in order to challenge our habits of thinking." Bill Eddy was predeceased by his first wife Beryl Forbes Eddy. He is survived by son William Cameron Eddy and wife Samantha, three granddaughters, Skye, Clare and Beryl of Wilson, WY, and wife Pamela Sisson Eddy of Sutton VT and four step children, two step grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. There will be a Memorial Service at Mr. Eddy's home in Sutton on June 4 at 11 am. In lieu of flowers, gifts to the Fairbanks Museum, St. Johnsbury, VT are welcome.
Published in The Boston Globe on May 6, 2016
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