Richard Andrus
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Richard Andrus

Binghamton - Richard "Dick" E. Andrus, PhD, passed away on April 5, 2020, at the age of 78. A passionate environmentalist, he spent his life advocating for plants and animals of the world. Through action and example, he inspired his family, friends, and students to expand their thinking and create a sustainable world. Dick earned his PhD in botany from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. In 1973, when Binghamton University placed an ad for a professor to establish an Environmental Studies program, he was the perfect fit for this then unknown field. During his career, Dick was also a major contributor to the field of bryology. Dick traveled all over the globe collecting previously undescribed species of sphagnum moss. He built a massive collection of sphagnum specimens that he ultimately donated to Duke University. Leading the Envi program he inspired hundreds, if not thousands, of students to apply their talents to environmental work. "Don Ricardo" took groups of students to Costa Rica to learn about tropical ecology, pointing out the pressures of climate change and the faults in our international food system. When teaching locally, classes took van rides to local sustainable farms for EcoAg, or Jam Pond for Wetlands. He brought countless classes of students to his home to learn about sustainable backyard gardening through hands-on work. Dick led by example, turning over the compost, showing students how to shovel "the right way", baking his own bread, peeling homegrown potatoes, and brewing his own beer. For many, this was the first time making and learning about healthy food. He enjoyed nothing better than being in nature. Dick, and his teaching partner and long-time friend Julian Shepherd, helped to establish the 180-acre Binghamton University Nature Preserve and strongly encouraged the creation of the group that became the Friends of the Nature Preserve. They worked hard for many years to endow a caretaker position so that the preserve would remain welcoming to humans and wildlife alike in perpetuity. Dick was also instrumental in the gifting of Nuthatch Hollow to Binghamton University from local businessman/bird/nature enthusiast Robert Schumann. Dick had a strong commitment to enhancing the environment within the City of Binghamton through work with the Shade Tree Commission and the VINES urban gardening initiative. At the regional level, he was present at the founding meeting of the Northeast Organic Farmers' Association (NOFA) in 1983. For the last few years he was active on the administrative board of the NOFA-NY organic farm certification program. Convinced that protection of the environment is impossible and incomplete without social justice, Dick and his wife Jane were involved in the Binghamton-El Charcon Sister Cities Project. In order to support the local economy he helped found Binghamton's EAT Food Co-op and was a frequent patron of Binghamton Farmers' Market, where almost all the vendors knew him. He appreciated a good home-brew and loved to patronize local breweries. He was a huge fan of folk music, serving as a board member and routine concert-goer of Six on the Square in Oxford, NY. Dick was also a sports enthusiast; enjoying running, cross country skiing, cycling, and playing in various leagues himself. Attending sporting events with his family was one of his favorite activities. While many will remember Dick as a vocal advocate for the environment he was also quite the family man. No Dad or Grandpa was better qualified to lead an adventure walk! He loved spending time with his family, sharing stories, arguing about politics, and telling jokes in front of his wood-burning stove. Dick is predeceased by his mother and father, Barbara and Leonard Andrus, and by his wife Jane Suk Stuart-Andrus. He leaves behind his beloved children: son Erik (wife Erica and sons Julien and Robin), son Holt (wife Miriam, and daughter Natalia), daughter Alexis (husband Jon Paczkowski), stepdaughter Janine Stuart (Michael, daughter Earay) and Loris Cabrera (Katrina, daughter Carmen). He also leaves behind his sister Peg Williams, brother Steve Andrus, sister-in-law Mary Lou, and many other members of the Andrus family. Dick was buried at Greensprings Natural Cemetery in Newfield, NY, in protected land, perfect for birding and taking in amazing views. Upon his retirement, Binghamton University established a scholarship to support undergraduate field research, so that future students could benefit from the same kind of formative experience working in the field that had originally inspired Dick as an undergraduate to pursue a career in ecology. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to the Binghamton University Foundation, PO Box 6005, Binghamton NY 13902. Please write "Andrus Field Research Program" in the memo line.

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Published in Press & Sun-Bulletin from Apr. 11 to Apr. 12, 2020.
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7 entries
May 15, 2020
Professor Andrus is the reason I was able to publish the book, Love Notes: Experiencing the Natural Areas of Binghamton University. He is also the reason that I still know so many birds sounds 20 + years later, a skill that enriches my life every spring and summer. As an undergraduate English major taking Environmental Science and Ornithology, I was often at the BU Nature Preserve. Professor Andrus connected me to The Friends of the Nature Preserve and even let me host a walk. He went out of his way to secure funding from his friend for my book and even passed them out to graduates of the Environmental Science program. I was so honored. Students knew him as an opinionated, passionate man. I knew him as a caring and supportive grandfatherly type and mentor. He will be sorely missed.
Jennifer Pacheco
May 12, 2020
Although 20 years have passed since my memorable month-long tropical ecology internship in Costa Rica with Professor Andrus, I often think of him and the lessons he taught by example. It was an honor to know someone who was led not by convenience but by a commitment to doing right.
Tova Robinson
May 5, 2020
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Maria Concilio
April 21, 2020
I once called Dick a "curmudgeon" which pleased him enormously. His actions were always positive and optimistic. His attitude embodied a wry humor and slightly roguishness. At VINES he talked a lot about the deer that plagued his garden, but I think he admired their ability to overcome tall barriers to enjoy great organic produce! I enjoyed talking to him at the Cooperative Gallery and VINES. I learned a lot from him on the Shade Tree Commission which I got pulled into at the very beginning. He and Julian were patient teachers and tireless community activists. The world is much better for Dick's life.
peg Johnston
April 18, 2020
Dick was the most inspirational and influential person in guiding my own path in life. I was a student of his in the early days of the SUNY/ Binghamton Environmental Studies Program, 1974-1978, and got to know Dick well back then. His environmental passion was passed on to many of us! I was one of his work study students serving as an artist drawing some of the most important plants on the planet, Sphagnum Moss! Dick and I shared an appreciation for bad jokes that still make me laugh today! Dick was a person with a broad perspective helping me to always view the big picture! Dick will be missed!
Steve Sierigk
April 13, 2020
Dear friends, I am so sorry to read about the passing of your beloved father. I was his advisor at TIAA and it was my honor to work with him. He meant a great deal to me and I will miss our very interesting, thoughtful conversations. I am here if you need me in any capacity. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I will be my honor to help you work through anything that comes up. May he rest in peace and fly free.
Carol Gallagher
April 12, 2020
Steve & Family - so very sorry to learn of your loss. May the Lord comfort you all and give you peace.
Bob Wickman
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