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We salute our Senior Conservationists for building and maintaining a very strong agency.   Your years have been many, and we hope there are many more healthy and happy ones in your future. The following Senior Conservationists were highlighted in the ARCSE Newsletters. They are shown by year highlighted, beginning with the most recent.

For a complete list of all Senior Conservationists, click here.

Last Name

First Name


Senior Chronicles






Shelby H.


Senior Conservationist Shelby Brownfield was born June 12, 1931, in Ava, Illinois. He was raised on his family’s dairy farm. After high school he enrolled in the University of Illinois. While in college he worked at several jobs including home construction and repair, a lab technician with the Agricultural Research Service. Shelby graduated in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with a major in Agronomy (crops and soils).

After graduation he continued working for ARS at its Joliet Experiment Station as lab technician. He also worked for Swift & Co. as a field representative selling farm chemicals and fertilizers and for Sears, Roebuck & Co. as a garden store manager.

Shelby began his career with SCS in 1956 in Greencastle, IN, as a field soil scientist. In 1957 he was relocated to Spencer, IN, where he worked as field soil scientist until 1960. In 1960, he was promoted to Area Soil Scientist and survey party leader at Franklin, IN. He remained there until 1963 when he took the same job at Shelbyville, IN. In 1967 he moved to North Vernon, IN; in 1972 he relocated to Kendallville, IN. He was in Kendallville just a short time, for he was selected in that year to be soil correlator located at Bozeman, MT. He remained in Bozeman until 1977 when he was promoted to State Soil Scientist for Idaho at Boise. There he remained until 1986. During his tenure in Idaho he participated in a temporary assignment for US-AID to Algeria in 1984. The team of which he was a member worked to select and evaluate sites for agricultural research and plant materials projects.

Shelby retired from SCS in mid-1986. Following retirement he worked as Senior Soil Scientist under contract to the Idaho Division of Environment from 1986 to 1988. He, along with other SCS retirees, founded Associated Earth Scientists in 1987. His company performed various work under contract including evaluation of drain field sites for sewage treatment and disposal, evaluation of landfill sites, evaluation of drainage and soil conditions for proposed subdivisions, and other related urban soil consultation. He also trained Idaho District Health Officers to identify soil problems.

Shelby reports that he continues to be involved with everything from do-it-yourself projects (“…mainly remodeling and repair of my homes including a log home…”) to family gatherings and church activities. In 2006 and 2007 he spent three weeks of each year as a volunteer with Marion Medical Mission in Malawi, Africa. On those trips, Shelby helped install shallow wells in rural villages. He has also visited Ethiopia in 1992, 2004, and 2007 where he assisted his agricultural engineer and missionary son David Brownfield. During those trips he assisted on water development projects and repair of water systems in the highlands of northwestern Ethiopia.


Jimmy R.


 Senior Conservationist Jimmy R. Bell was born October 18, 1932, on his grandparents' ranch in Mitchell County, Texas. He was the first of five children. His father was employed by Mobil Oil Co. for many years. Jim graduated from Colorado City, Texas High School in 1951. After high school, he enrolled at Texas A&M University, where he received a BS degree in Range and Forestry in 1955.

After graduation he reported to duty for the Soil Conservation Service in Big Springs, Texas. After attending the SCS training in Big Springs, in July of 1955 he entered the US Army to fulfil his two years required military service. He was honorably discharged in May, 1957, after serving with the 3RD Armored Division in Germany. Jim and Iris were married August 8, 1953.

Upon completion of his military service, Jim returned to work for the SCS in May, 1957, in Brady, Texas, as a Range Management Assistant. He transferred to Brownwood, Texas in November, 1958, as a Range Conservationist. In April, 1962, Jim was transferred to Worland, Wyoming as an Area Range Conservationist. In 1974, he was transferred to Sheridan, Wyoming, as Area Range Conservationist. He served as Range Conservationist for three areas (northern half of Wyoming). In 1975 he was selected to be the RC&D coordinator for the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming. Again he was relocated in Worland.

In August, 1977, Jim was asked to assist the US Dept. of Interior, BLM with the development and implementation of a new natural resources inventory system. This detail ended in October 1979. In 1977 Jim received the Wyoming Society of Range Management "Man of the Year" Award. In April 1980, Jim was selected for a special assignment at NASA, Johnson Space Center Houston, Texas. This assignment was as senior scientist to work in a new program named the Agricultural and Resources Surveys Through Aerospace Remote Sensing (AgRiSTARS). Jim served as the research and development leader for the Renewable Resources Inventory Project (RRI), which was a part of the US Forest's Nation Wide Forestry Applications Program (NFAP). Jim retired July 13, 1985, at the end of this five year program.

While working with the RRI, he was asked to design and construct several special field use light tables to accommodate the use of large reels of film from U2 flights to monitor the gypsy moth damage to trees in the north eastern states. The light tables were about four inches in depth but large enough to handle two rolls of 9-inch-wide film lying side by side. It was easy to transport a large number of light tables in a van. Jim received a Certificate Appreciation from Max Peterson, Chief Forest Service.

After retirement, Jim and his wife stayed in Houston until 1994 when Iris retired from Smith Barney Shearson as Assistant Vice President. After her retirement, Jim and Iris returned to Worland, Wyoming. They built a log cabin on Canyon Creek in the Big Horn Mountains, on 840 acres of private land that adjoins the Big Horn National Forest to the north. There are moose, elk, deer, antelope and an occasional bear on the property. He still owns a small irrigated farm near Worland, where he raised quarter horses until he got too old to break and train the new ones. Jim's health is still good. He continues to hike and fish the streams along the divide of the Big Horn Mountains.

The Bells have raised four children, have seven grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren. They love to celebrate the many birthdays that come along. They are also very active in their church activities. Jim has served as a deacon in most of the churches he has attended.

He has been an avid hunter and fisherman, and he has guided big game hunters for years. In 2014 Jim wrote a 380 page book, We Rode the High Country, about his life, career and recreation. He has presented many papers and contributed to many publications relating to remote sensing, as well as cover photos for Society of Range Management, and Soil Conservation Magazine (February 1967).

Jim has thoroughly enjoyed the 30 years he spent with the SCS in Natural Resources Management.


Edwin L.


Senior Conservationist Ed L. Minnick was born in Folsom, Pennsylvania. Folsom is in Delaware County, about 15 miles south of Philadelphia. He attended elementary school in Ridley Park, PA, and graduated in 1949 from Saint James Catholic High School for Boys in Chester, PA. Following high school he began attending La Salle University in Philadelphia; however, the Korean War draft was imminent, so Ed enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served in the field artillery and arrived in Korea about six months prior to the armistice (signed at Panmunjom on July 27th, 1953). Ed was honorably discharged in 1954.

He started working for SCS in 1956 as a WAE at the Georgetown, DE, field office. He was hired full time in June of 1957 as a Civil Engineering Technician serving field and project offices in Maryland and Delaware. He met his wife, Berta, in the cafeteria at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. They married February 14th, 1959. Ed served as Civil Engineering Technician until March 1968 when he accepted the job of Design Engineer for offices and projects in Maryland and Delaware with office in College Park. In June 1970 he graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering. In November of that year he was promoted to Civil Engineer at Storrs, CT, with responsibility for field and project offices in both CT and RI. In December 1979 he was made Assistant State Conservation Engineer for Ohio and moved to Columbus. He held that position until August 1982 when he accepted the job of Assistant State Conservation Engineer and Construction Engineer at Durham, NH. Ed was promoted to State Conservation Engineer for Michigan in May 1985 and served in that capacity until his retirement in December 1988. Throughout his career he designed conservation structures, developed tools to improve the effectiveness of conservation measures, and instructed and mentored other conservationists in analysis and development of appropriately designed conservation measures and systems. Ed passed the Licensed Professional Engineer exam while in Connecticut and is currently licensed in five states (Connecticut, Ohio, New Hampshire, Michigan, and Maine).

After retirement Ed worked as Project Engineer for Civil Consultants, South Berwick, ME, from January 1989 to March 1990. From May 1990 until May 1992 he was Project Engineer for Greiner Engineering Co. of Timonium (MD) and Rocky Hill (CT). In May 1992 he established Minnick Engineering located in Berwick, ME. Its primary client was Rockingham County Conservation District in Brentwood, NH. He remained active as a consulting Professional Engineer until he and Berta moved to California in 2014.

Ed and Berta have two children and five grandchildren. He enjoys photography and has instructed classes in use of HydroCAD stormwater modeling software. He was a volunteer with his local community food pantries in Maine and New Hampshire. Since moving to California he has taken up lawn bowling. He says that Berta has also become a library volunteer and a pickle ball player. Ed says that he has thoroughly enjoyed his chosen career and the tremendous variety of opportunities it afforded him.




Senior Conservationist Niles A. McLoda was born October 5th, 1929 in Elyria, Ohio. Elyria is about 30 miles southeast of Cleveland. Niles was the first of six children. His father worked at a shipyard in Lorain, OH, on the southern shore of Lake Erie. Niles’ family lived on his grandfather’s farm near Elyria. He graduated from high school in 1947 at Amherst (OH) High School. After high school he enrolled at The Ohio State University. He left OSU and worked on the farm. In June 1954 he joined the US Army; in 1955 he joined the 11th Airborne and was stationed at Fort Campbell, KY. He served until March 1956 when he was honorably discharged.

Upon completion of his military service Niles went back to OSU where he received a B.S. degree in Agricultural Equipment Science in 1958. He completed one quarter of graduate studies that completed his eligibility as a Soil Scientist for SCS. His first location as a Soil Scientist was at Eaton, OH, as part of a progressive survey party. He was there until March 1961 when he took the job of Soil Scientist at Coshocton, OH. He left that position in June 1963 to take the job of Area Soil Scientist at Hillsboro, OH, where he worked until June of 1969. He then went to Columbus where he was Area Soil Scientist and Survey Party Leader. In April of 1977 he transferred to Newark, OH, in the equivalent job. He was there for only seven months. In November of 1977 he was selected Assistant State Soil Scientist for SCS in Richmond, VA. He held that position until March 1985 when he became State Soil Scientist for Virginia. He retired from that position June 30, 1988.

While working in Ohio, Niles invented, designed, and constructed a soil sampling machine that could be mounted on a motorcycle sidecar. This allowed soil surveyors to reach locations inaccessible by standard truck-mounted coring machines at the time. He also designed and constructed a rectangular soil sampler which facilitated extraction of making of soil monoliths.

After retirement, Niles and his family remained in the Richmond area. For 12 years until 2000 he worked at the Amelia Wildlife Management Area, and from September 1989 until June of 2000 he did soil mapping as a consultant. He has been a volunteer with the Amelia Volunteer Fire Department since 1989. He was named Firefighter of the Year in 1995 and 1998. In 2009 he was named a Life Member of the Department.

Niles’ interests beyond soil science have been both active and varied. He earned a private pilot license in 1949. He was very involved in motorcycling both touring with his wife and competitively in racing. He won the Jack Pine National Sidecar Enduro Championship (500 mile race) in 1955, 1956, 1959, 1960, and 1966. He says that he has owned 27 motorcycles during his cycling career (17 of which were Harley-Davidson’s). He and his wife have ridden in all states of the US, except Alaska. Other activities have included big game hunting in Wyoming and Nebraska, camping, and square dancing. Square dancing has played an important part in Niles’ life beyond a social pastime. He met Jane Houghton at a square dance in Elyria and they later married on April 14, 1954. Jane and he are the parents of two daughters and two granddaughters. 

When asked what guidance he would have for persons today, he said “know what you know.”


Allen Lee


Allen Lee was born Feb. 12, 1930 in Duncan, OK, the first of nine children born to Wesley and Pearl Newman. He was raised on the family farm where cattle, hogs, poultry, corn, cotton, small grains and hay were produced. He attended several small elementary schools before graduating from Velma-Alma High School in 1948. Allen graduated from Cameron Junior College in Lawton with an Associate Degree in Agriculture. He then graduated from Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University) in 1953 with a B.S. degree in Agriculture, with a major in agronomy and minors in soils and botany.

He served in the U.S. Army (Artillery) for two years and in the Reserves (Engineering Construction) for four years, attaining the rank of Master Sergeant in 1957.

Allen began working with SCS in the fall of 1955 in Littlefield, TX, as a Soil Scientist. In a few months he became party leader of Lamb County Soil Survey. He was Area Soil Scientist for the Lubbock Area from 1959 to 1961 and Area Soil Scientist for the Uvalde Area from 1961 to 1963. He also authored the soil surveys of Lamb, Cochran, and Kinney Counties.

In 1963 he was promoted to Field Specialist Soils for the eastern fourth of Texas with headquarters in Nacogdoches. In 1967 he was transferred to Temple, TX and became Assistant State Soil Scientist in 1970. He retired from SCS on January 2, 1987.

Allen received numerous awards during his career, including five Certificates of Merit signed by four different state conservationists and one signed by Mel Davis, SCS Administrator.

After retiring, he contracted with municipalities and several lignite mines to do soil surveying and sampling. He also contracted with NRCS to prepare soil surveys for digitizing. He completed 33 digitizing contracts and 14 technical edits of soil survey manuscripts. He retired from contracting in November 2003.

In 1951 Allen married Maxine Pierce. They have two sons, seven grandsons, six great-grandsons, and two great-granddaughters. Allen and Maxine are active in church work. He has taught Sunday School for more than 50 years and has been a deacon for more than 45 years.

Since 2005 one of his hobbies is preparing a six-page, quarterly, family newsletter that goes to about 120 households. He has also been a purple martin landlord for more than 25 years, usually fledging more than 100 martins yearly.

Allen is especially fond of having had a part in training more than a dozen young scientists, several going on to be Regional Soil Scientists, State Soil Scientists, State Conservationists, and to other places of service. He also wrote a book, published in-house, titled Vertisols in Texas. It is basically a handbook for use in Texas. He is also proud of having written a draft of the Aridic Subgroups that later became a part of Soil Taxonomy. He likes to say, "I had the privilege of working alongside outstanding men and women in most disciplines in SCS".


Harry E.


Senior Conservationist Harry Potter was born September 2, 1927, in Caribou, Maine. His family moved to Sidney, ME, where he grew up on his family’s farm. It was a small dairy and egg production farm. Harry attended elementary school in Sidney and graduated from high school in Oakland, ME. Following graduation from high school, Harry enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He served in the Pacific area on Okinawa where he handled radio repair on the base. He attained the rank of Sergeant and was discharged in 1949 from the U.S. Air Force. He returned home and worked in various farm jobs until he enrolled in the University of Maine in the fall of 1950. While at the university, he was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and was active in Ag Club activities (including the Ag Fair). Harry graduated in 1954 with a B.Sc. degree in Agricultural Engineering.

Harry’s first work with SCS was during the summer of 1951 in Steuben County, NY. He returned to New York State for the summers of 1952 and 1953 in Cayuga and Wayne counties.

Following his graduation, he was assigned to Genesee County, NY, as a full-time employee at the Batavia Field Office as a Soil Conservationist. In January, 1956 he was transferred to Rensselaer County and located at Berlin, NY. Berlin was a field office for the Little Hoosic Watershed (one of four pilot small watershed projects in the state at that time). His work there included streambank cribbing and construction of debris dams to slow erosive stream currents and to retain sediment. He married his wife, Sharon, on September 8, 1956; they had met while Harry worked in Batavia.

In 1958 Harry was promoted to District Conservationist at Troy, New York. Troy has close ties to the nearby cities of Albany and Schenectady in a region popularly called the Capital District. Harry notes that general agriculture was typical and that the area was becoming more and more urbanized while he was working there. In 1967 he accepted the job of District Conservationist for Jefferson County located at Watertown, NY. The county is in the Saint Lawrence River Valley and presented Harry with new challenges. He notes that surface drains and land smoothing were being used on the clayey soils; he visited similar landscapes in Ohio during this time to learn conservation practices being employed there. Harry retired on September 1st, 1982, at Watertown and has remained there since.

When Harry and Sharon moved to the job at Watertown in 1967, they bought a farmstead and 45 acres of land. He reports that it was “…great for vegetable and flower gardens and [had] adequate grass for pasture where we hobbied with a family flock of Hampshire sheep.”  There is also a hill that is great for sledding (which he still uses every winter). In retirement, Harry has served on his town’s planning board in several capacities, including two extended terms as its chairperson. In 1996 he was appointed as a Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor. He served for 16 years as its chairperson until he retired in 2013.

Harry and Sharon have a daughter and two sons. They have six grandchildren and, as of the date he sent his information, were expecting their first great-grandchild “…any day now”. They supported their children through school, 4-H, and church. Their children have moved away as they married and gained employment. Harry and Sharon travel to Nebraska, Illinois, Colorado, New Hampshire and Maine almost every year. He reports that “…to date we have attended 14 graduations for our grandchildren, beginning with 8th grade, and one wedding. Hopefully we will be able to make the last college graduation in 2016!”

In addition to his travels, Harry enjoys woodworking and bird watching. He remains active at his church where he has served as a laity member to Annual Conference for many years.


Keith O.


Senior Conservationist Keith O. Schmude, Ph.D., was born in his family’s home on their dairy farm in Poygan Township, Wisconsin. Keith grew up on that farm and attended local schools. He graduated from Omro High School (Omro, Wisconsin) in 1949. His father was an early cooperator with the local conservation district. Keith has said that it was his experience helping George Framberger (the District Conservationist) lay out terraces and seeing development of the soils map for the farm that convinced him that a career in soil science and conservation was for him. Keith planned to enroll in the local state college in Oshkosh after high school and worked to earn tuition money. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1951 and served in Korea until separated from active duty in 1953 and was honorably discharged in 1959 after serving in the U.S. Army Reserve for six years. While in Korea, he served as a Combat Infantry Squad Leader for the 45th Infantry Division. For his service he received two Bronze Stars, the Combat Infantry Badge with two overseas bars, a United Nations Service Medal, and a commendation ribbon with metal pendant for Meritorious Service. Keith was anxious to start college. He arrived home after his discharge on a Friday and was sitting in class at Wisconsin State College the following Monday. It was during his studies at Wisconsin State College that he met Barbara Wilson who became his wife before he transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to complete his undergraduate work. They married June 18, 1955. Keith graduated with Senior High Honors with a B.S. in Agriculture. He completed a Master of Science program at the same school in 1959 in the discipline of Soil Genesis and Classification. Keith’s career with the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) began in Wisconsin in 1958. From 1958 to 1968 he rose from GS-5 to GS-11 Soil Scientist. He was a soil survey party leader and was author of two county soil survey publications. In 1968 he accepted a promotion to Assistant State Soil Scientist for West Virginia. He served in that job until 1970 when he was selected State Soil Scientist in-place. Keith worked there until 1976 when he was promoted to the Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) Division within SCS Headquarters. He entered on duty on July 4, 1976. In 1978 Keith was awarded a Ph.D. degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from West Virginia University. His dissertation involved five disciplines (soil science, civil engineering, agronomy, economics, and geology) and the use/utility of soil survey information in land use planning. Keith served in the I&M Division until he retired in 1988. Keith has received many awards during his career. In 2004 he has honored by his high school by being added to the Omro High School Wall of Fame. Keith and Barbara have seven children, 14 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. They continue to live in the home in Fairfax County, Virginia, they moved into in 1976. Next year they will celebrate 60 years of marriage and are making plans for that celebration. Keith and Barbara enjoy traveling to visit their children as well as gardening and wood crafting.


Donald S. (“Don”)


Senior Conservationist Donald S. Henry (“Don”) was born at Benham, Kentucky; Benham is located in Kentucky’s southeastern portion. He spent his earliest years in Benham and moved with his family to Pulaski County, KY, when his father retired from coal mining and bought a farm near Science Hill. Don completed high school at Science Hill. He spent a year at Berea College then decided to try his hand at college football. He left Berea College and enrolled at the University of Illinois. He was there for two semesters when he received his draft notice for the Korean War. He joined the US Navy in 1951 and served on the Fletcher Class destroyer USS The Sullivans from 1951 to 1955 seeing duty in the war zone.

Following his honorable discharge in 1955 he resumed his college studies by enrolling in the University of Kentucky, where he graduated in 1958 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agronomy.

Don began his career with SCS in the spring of 1958 when he was hired as a soil scientist mapping soils in several Kentucky counties. He mapped soils for about 8 years. He then became District Conservationist for both Powell and Wolfe counties. Three years later he accepted the position of District Conservationist for Clark County on the eastern side of the Bluegrass Region.

In 1971 Don was named Manager of the Plant Materials Center at Quicksand, Kentucky. He worked there until 1977 when he was selected to the position of Plant Materials Specialist for the states of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and a portion of West Virginia. His office was at the SCS State Office in Lexington. He served in that capacity until his retirement in September 1989.

During his career with the Plant Materials Program he oversaw release of several cultivars. These include a cold-tolerant bermudagrass (“Quickstand”) for athletic fields and other high-traffic areas; a low-growing sericea lespedeza (“Appalow”) for hillside pasturage and critical area stabilization; a multi-stem, dwarf willow for stream channel erosion management (“Bankers”); and, a germplasm-improved switchgrass (KY1625).

Following his retirement in September 1989 he volunteered and then worked for the Clark County (KY) Conservation District for 15 years. He also worked occasionally as a substitute teacher at the local high school in Winchester, KY.

Don’s first wife, Doris, passed away in May of 2010; they had been married 57 years. Don has two sons and one daughter, 10 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren. He is now married to Marjorie Whitley. They enjoy traveling and spending time with their families. Don’s hobbies have included wood working and the occasional golf and fishing outing. He and his wife enjoy participating in church activities.

Don reports that he truly enjoyed his career in conservation that spanned over 50 years. He also cherishes his “…time spent with the wonderful people of SCS and NRCS.”


Harold R.


Senior Conservationist Harold R. Honeyfield was born December 28, 1930, on his Grandfather's homestead, near Raton, New Mexico. He was raised on that small farm where teams of horses were the source of power for all farming, and a few dairy cows provided the money for groceries. He graduated Raton High School, then enlisted in the US Navy, and served 3 ½ years. He entered the US Naval Academy and attended for two years, after which he transferred to New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts (now New Mexico State University) where he received a BS in Agricultural Engineering in 1956. He then enrolled at Purdue University majoring in soil mechanics and hydraulics; there he conducted a model study of the hydraulic jump in pipe for his thesis. He received an MS degree in January 1958.

His career with Soil Conservation Service started in the summer of 1955 when he was an engineering aide at Bernalillo, NM, doing surveying and soil testing for the construction of the dam known as Pilot Site #1. This was just prior to the program known as PL 566. During the summer of 1956 he was assigned as a Field Office engineer at Las Vegas, New Mexico. In January 1958 he became Head of the Design Section (aka: State Design Engineer) at the SCS State Office at Albuquerque. Harold was the first State Design Engineer in New Mexico.

During his time in New Mexico, he was the Charter President of the New Mexico Chapter of ASAE, and became a member of the ASAE sub-committee for Design. When took the job of State Design Engineer in 1958 Engineering Memo #3 contained the design criteria for dams and was 3 pages long. Over the next 18 years of his career criteria for dam design were revised many times and increased in complexity. Harold was noted for finding solutions for problems by using some US Bureau of Reclamation structures, such as: impact basins for principal spilling discharge, and baffle chutes for grade stabilization. During the same period of time, contract construction specifications received major changes. In New Mexico, 74 flood control dams were designed by Harold and reviewed by either the Ft. Worth, TX Engineering and Watershed Protection Unit, the Portland NTC, or the Ft. Worth, Texas NTC. He made acrylic models of hydraulic structures for teaching aids.

In 1975 Harold was assigned to the first SCS technical team to go to the Helmand Valley Drainage project in Afghanistan; there he taught Afghan engineers drainage procedures to reclaim saline soils. In 1977 he returned to the United States and was assigned to the Portland NTC. While there he evaluated performance of a hydraulic model of a side channel chute for its use as an emergency spillway; he also was on temporary detail to SCS in California for flood restoration work. In November 1978 he became the Assistant State Engineer for California, served as Acting State Engineer for the 1978-1980 EWP flood restoration project. Harold retired in September 1989.

He was a Registered Professional Engineer for State of New Mexico, and a Registered Professional Civil Engineer for the State of California.

After his retirement, he accepted a position with Harza Engineering in Pakistan to plan and design drainage projects and large sediment debris basins in the Northern Frontier Province. He served one year as the Resident Engineer for an international contract for the D. I. Khan Drainage project.

During his time in California, he became the 'host' family for three Afghan refugee families. He is the author of several technical papers for ASAE and for International Drainage Symposia. He has made his home in Davis, CA, with his wife, Valma, who is a noted quilter and has earned her fair share of ribbons. He has three sons, Holin, Keith and Jason. Harold is a devoted genealogist, and enjoys 'tinkering" in his workshop. He is a prostate cancer survivor, and is a charter member of the local prostate cancer support group.


Harlan C.


Senior Conservationist Harlan C. Nelson was born in Frederic, WI. Harlan grew up on his family’s 120-acre farm near Luck, WI (about 70 miles northeast of Saint Paul, MN). The farm was a diversified enterprise with a small herd of cows, pigs, and some chickens. His grandfather built the barn and they farmed with horses in his youth. He graduated from high school in 1946 and worked on his home farm until he entered military service in the U.S. Marine Corps in September of that same year. He was stationed in California at the Naval Supply Center (Oakland) until he was discharged in September, 1948.

Upon return to civilian life he enrolled in the University of Wisconsin–River Falls and graduated in 1952 with a B.Sc. degree in both Agriculture and Science. While in college on the G.I. Bill, he was on the school’s baseball team (3rd base and shortstop positions) for all four years. He was a member of the basketball team for his first two years in college, but realized that laboratory classes conflicted with basketball practice and chose academics. He had intended to go into a career of teaching and coaching, but his basketball coach advised him to pursue agriculture, as there were many more jobs in that field than in teaching at that time. Harlan took his advice to heart and came on board SCS in the summer of 1952 as a Student Trainee at Balsam Lake, WI.

After graduation he was assigned as a Soil Conservationist at Stratford, WI (a two-person field office). He was there in that position from December, 1952 until March, 1954 when he was promoted in place to District Conservationist. He served there until 1956 when he discontinued his Federal service to take a position with Northrup King in Sparta, WI. He is quoted as having said that he was “tired of living out of a suitcase” and in 1957 he was reinstated with SCS in Eau Claire County as District Conservationist, where he served for nine years. In 1966 he accepted the District Conservationist position for Chippewa County. He held that position until his retirement in late April, 1983. Harlan was recognized by community leaders and farmers alike, wherever he worked, for his effectiveness in natural resource and soil conservation.

Over the years since his retirement from SCS, Harlan has been active in agriculture, with his hobbies, and with his family. He worked for a while as a wildlife damage inspector for Eau Claire County. He worked for over five years in Trempealeau County, WI, where he contacted farmers about their compliance with Wisconsin’s Farmland Preservation Program. He continued to enjoy his avocation of woodworking and furniture building.

This year Harlan and his wife Ethel have been married 56 years. They have one son and two daughters and three grandchildren. Harlan has always believed that conservation is a team effort. Local, state, and federal agencies must work cooperatively, each doing its job, to make conservation a success.


James H. (Jim)


Senior Conservationist James H. (Jim) Spitz was born in Rochester, New York. Jim grew up on a “hill farm” on the west side of Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York. He attended high school in Hammondsport, NY, during which time he participated in baseball, basketball, and track and field sports. His hobbies included racing a Star Class sailboat on local lakes, in Canada, and other Eastern waters. Upon graduation from high school, he enrolled in Baldwin Wallace University (Berea, Ohio). He graduated in 1953 with an A.B. degree in rural sociology and business. Jim then served in the US Army in Korea and was honorably discharged after two years’ service.

Following discharge from the Army in 1956, Jim took a job as an Investigator with the Civil Service Commission. He held this positon for about 16 months, during which time he worked in New York City, Buffalo, Binghamton, Philadelphia, Trenton, and Atlantic City.

A reduction-in-force necessitated a career move, and Jim entered SCS as an Administrative Trainee in Syracuse, NY, in 1957. Following this trainee work he moved to Connecticut where he was a member of the SAO staff for both Connecticut and Rhode Island. In 1965 he took an administrative position in Indiana. In 1968 he was selected SAO for Indiana and served in that position until 1977. Jim reports that those were exciting years for SCS in the state, with two watershed planning staffs in addition to all the other programs. He also reported that during those years he developed many close friendships and had some very memorable experiences.

In 1977 Jim accepted the position of Chief of the Budget Branch in SCS National Headquarters. He reports that during his tenure in that job he was able to get the budget management of Conservation Operations moved from his Budget Branch to the Programs Division. Following his work as Chief of the Budget Branch he became a Program Analyst. He held this position until 1984 when he accepted the Departmental position of Special Assistant Deputy Secretary. He retired from that position in September, 1989.

After retirement Jim moved to the Smith Mountain Lake area of Virginia. There, in addition to enjoying boating, fishing, and hunting (for both game and antiques/collectibles), he has remained active in resource conservation. He has been a member and President of the Smith Mountain Lake Association (1992-1998). Other related activities include serving as a member of the Virginia Lakes and Watershed Association 2001-2002 where he served on the steering committee (established by the Virginia Lakes and Watershed Association) that helped establish the Upper Roanoke River Roundtable. He also was chairperson of VLWA’s Lakes and Watersheds Committee. Jim also served on Virginia-Governor-appointed commissions such as the Tri-County Lakes Administrative Commission. He served on the Steering Committee that developed the initiative and legislative draft that led to creation of the Roanoke Bi-State (Virginia and North Carolina) River Basin Commission. It is very active today with a mix of political and business leaders.

He has remained active in his church including holding leadership positions in it. He has also served since 2001 in various ways with the Scruggs Fire, Rescue, and Dive rescue squad (as an EMT, a fund-raising chairperson, and as board member since 2007). Lastly, he continues to serve as an auctioneer and floor manager for an auction house south of Roanoke, VA.

Jim and his wife Hilde continue to enjoy life in their Smith Mountain Lake community. He has great memories of his work with SCS and the lasting friendships that conservation work gave him the opportunity to make.


Billy C.


Senior Conservationist Billy C. Griffin was born at Waelder, Texas. Waelder is in Gonzalez County about 80 miles east of San Antonio. Billy grew up on his family’s farm-ranch and graduated from high school there in 1946. He enrolled in Southwest Texas State University following high school and graduated with a B.S. degree in Agriculture in 1950. Billy then served in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict from 1951until he was discharged in January of 1953. During this period he spent a year in Korea with the 25th Infantry Division. After leaving the Army, Billy enrolled at Texas A&I-Kingsville in a graduate program, but due to low enrollment his classes were closed and he had to leave school. He applied for a job as a school teacher and was hired at Bandera, Texas, to teach high school science (he also served as an assistant coach and part time bus driver!).

Billy began his conservation career at Bandera at the suggestion of his roommate, Tom Shiflett. From February 1954 until 1966 he worked there, first as a Soil Conservationist, then as Work Unit Conservationist. In 1966 he accepted the position of District Conservationist at San Antonio. He directed that field office until 1970 when he was promoted to Area Conservationist, headquartered at Pecos, Texas. He led that Area until 1972 when he was transferred to Temple, Texas, to be Area Conservationist there. In 1974, Billy was promoted to Assistant State Conservationist for Operations at the SCS State Office at Temple where he worked for two years. In 1976 he accepted the job of Deputy State Conservationist for Mississippi. In 1981 he was promoted to State Conservationist there. He and his family spent a total of seven years in Mississippi before Billy was called to lead SCS operations in his home state of Texas. Billy retired January 3, 1986, from his Texas State Conservationist position.

During his career, Billy received numerous awards for his high quality work. Recognition came from within SCS/USDA and from outside. He was the recipient of six Outstanding Performance awards from SCS and a USDA Superior Service Award during his career. He received an award from the Army Corps of Engineers for his “noteworthy service and assistance” in 1982. In1984 Billy was made a member of the Texas A&M University chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta (the agriculture honor society).

Since he retired, Billy has operated his homeplace as “Griffin Ranch” where he has spent his energies raising Angus cattle and “controlling mesquite brush.” Billy met his wife Jo Ann while he was teaching at Bandera; they married in September 1954 and while at Bandera started their family--two sons and a daughter. Billy’s lovely wife Jo Ann passed away in 2003. The Griffin Family now includes eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Billy has said that the 35 years he spent with SCS were some of the happiest of his life. He thoroughly enjoyed conservation work and the satisfaction it brought. He has also said that he enjoyed working with people inside and outside SCS. Billy continues to be active in ARCSE activities in Texas and as a conservationist on the land.


Harris W.


Senior Conservationist Harris W. Judy was born in Maxwelton, WV. Maxwelton is a small community about 7 miles from Lewisburg, WV, in Greenbrier County. He was raised on the family farm and attended local schools. Harris graduated from Lewisburg High School in 1948. Directly from high school he enrolled in Greenbrier Military School on a scholarship. After his freshman year he transferred to West Virginia University. He was there for a couple of years while also working for his father (a building contractor) part time. This he continued until he joined the US Air Force in 1953. He married Dorothea (Dottie) Baker on May 22, 1954. He completed his two-year enlistment in the Air Force and returned home.

Back home from the Air Force, Harris worked in housing construction with his father. As it happened, one of their house contracts was with an SCS District Conservationist. One day Harris and the DC were talking and Harris learned of the Student Trainee Program. Harris made a trip to the SCS State Office in Morgantown to investigate the program and was hired as an Engineer Student Trainee at the State Office. From 1956 until his graduation with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Engineering in January 1959 Harris was a trainee on the Watershed Planning Staff in Morgantown. Indeed, during his last semester he was the de facto hydrologist on the staff due to an extended leave of absence by the staff hydrologist. Harris gives credit to his co-workers and to Bob Kohnke at Upper Darby for guiding him during that period.

After graduation he was hired as Hydrologist at the State Office in Morgantown; he worked there until 1966. In 1966 he was promoted to the job of hydrologist on the SCS Watershed-River Basin Staff at Syracuse, NY. In 1969 he was promoted to Staff Leader there and served until 1972. In 1972 he was promoted to Soil Conservationist on the Watershed Division at SCS National Headquarters where he reviewed watershed work plans and provided input to the Watershed Planning Manual. In 1975 he accepted the position of Soil Conservationist on the River Basins Staff at National Headquarters. In 1977 he was promoted to Assistant Director of the Watershed Division and served in that position until 1985. Harris then accepted an international assignment as Advisor to the Ministry of Forestry of the Government of Indonesia. Soil conservation authority for Indonesia was part of the Ministry of Forestry responsibilities. He worked in that capacity until 1987.

Harris retired from SCS in early January 1988 as Soil Conservationist in Washington, DC. Throughout his career Harris was recognized for his work ethic and good work; he was the recipient of several Outstanding Performance awards.

Following retirement Harris and Dottie stayed in the Northern Virginia area and moved to Fredericksburg. They celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary this year. They have three daughters, one son, and 10 grandchildren. In addition to involvement with his family, Harris has been (and continues to be) active in his local church and community. He and Dottie have been instrumental in involving not only their church, but other churches and the larger Fredericksburg community in addressing the homelessness crisis there.

Regarding his work with Soil Conservation Service, Harris has expressed his gratitude for the confidence placed in him by Watershed and River Basin leadership during his career. The technical, interdisciplinary approach required to achieve sound watershed planning is one that Harris strongly believes continues to have value for conservation employees.


Hans A.


Senior Conservationist Hans A. Krauss was born on Staten Island, New York, and was raised there in the neighborhood of Midland Beach. Although there were farms on Staten Island, Hans did not make a farming connection until after his high school graduation when his parents bought a dairy farm in upstate New York. He was a manager on the farm from 1948 until 1954. During part of that time he was a student at State University of New York at Delhi where he majored in animal husbandry. From 1954 until 1956 Hans was in the U.S. Army where he achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant and was trained in jungle warfare in Panama. From 1956 through 1959 he attended Cornell University graduating in ’59 with a B.S. degree in agronomy.

During his college career Hans had been a student trainee with SCS in Northampton, Massachusetts (1958), but when he graduated there were no SCS jobs available. At that point he found employment with Heath Survey Consultants mapping vegetation for gas leakage control at various locations across the country. This job took him to Michigan, then to Denver, and at last to Portland, Oregon. He visited SCS’s regional office there looking for the possibility of getting back into a conservation profession. He saw two openings: a Soil Scientist vacancy and a Soil Conservationist vacancy both in Washington State. He chose the latter. He left Heath Survey Consultants in 1962 and went to work at Ritzville, WA, as Soil Conservationist. He was there for two years then was promoted to District Conservationist at Odessa, WA. After two years at Odessa he transferred to Warden, WA, as District Conservationist where he remained for four years. From 1970 until 1974 Hans was RC&D Project Coordinator at Raymond, WA, for the coastal area of the state. From that multi-county job, he was promoted to State Agronomist at Spokane in 1974 where he continued to provide agronomic leadership for conservation activities until he retired in 1990.

In 1985, Hans contributed chapters to the following books: Determinants of Soil Loss Tolerance, Dryland Agriculture, and Residue Characteristics for Wind and Water Erosion Control. During his work as State Agronomist he exchanged conservation technologies with other countries through SCS’s International Conservation Program. In 1981 he was in Costa Rica in an exchange pertaining to post-volcanic eruption land stabilization and reclamation. In 1984 Hans was part of a review team that evaluated a USAID project in Lesotho, Africa. After he retired he continued to work with Dr. Don McCool of Washington State University on research into crop residue management.

Hans has (and has had) a wide variety of interests outside his work with SCS. His interests have included painting, photography, restoration of German clocks, climbing with the Spokane Mountaineers (he has Mt. Athabasca, Mt. Rainier (twice), Bonanza Peak and Mt. Adams “under his belt” to name but a few). He published a book in 1993 about restoration of Junghans and Hamburg American clocks. And, he has written his memoir, entitled Immigrants’ Son which he published in 2010 for family, various libraries in the US and Germany, and for close friends. (His family story begins at the time his parents met in the Hamburg American clock factory in the Black Forest of Germany where his mother was a secretary and his father a tool-and-die maker. He immigrated to the US and then sent for her.) 

Hans relates that by the time he finished college his parents had moved to Massachusetts. He was visiting them one Christmas break when he agreed to a blind date with a student nurse at the Springfield Hospital School of Nursing’s Christmas dance. He was left speechless by her good looks and she thought he was a bore. Hans and his wife Katie (that nurse) have been married 53 years as of last February. Hans and Katie continue to enjoy life in Spokane, Washington.


Wayne F.


Senior Conservationist Wayne F. Maresch was born in Pittsburgh, PA, and grew up in Munhall, a borough 8 miles up the Monongahela from downtown Pittsburgh. His family wanted him to go to college so Wayne worked through high school raising chickens which were sold in his family’s store in Munhall. As a student at Pennsylvania State University he continued to work jobs ranging from Christmas holiday letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service to work in metal fabrication (Mesta Machine Co. and Federal Enameling & Stamping Co.). Wayne graduated in 1951 with a B.S. in Agronomy; he enlisted in the Air Force prior to graduation. He married Anna (“Dolly”) Kuzma two days before his graduation and within just a few days he and Dolly were on their way to his first training location --- Wright Patterson AFB at Dayton, Ohio. His fighter pilot training took him to five other bases in the U.S until he was sent to Japan. The Korean War was winding down and he spent 30 months in Japan prior to his return to the United States in 1955. Dolly and their growing family moved with him all during this period.

Upon his return to the States, Wayne was hired by SCS as a Soil Scientist in Erie, PA, where he worked until 1956 when he was transferred to Indiana, PA, in the same job series. In 1958 he was promoted to Work Unit Conservationist (WUC) at Carlisle, PA. In 1960 he was brought into the Pennsylvania State Office to serve as Administrative Officer (they had noted his experience while in the Air Force as supply officer in addition to his pilot duties.). A reduction of State Office staff in 1964 moved Wayne to Lancaster, PA, where he worked as WUC until 1966. In that year he took the job of Chief of the Management Records Branch in SCS Headquarters; he worked in that position until 1970 when he was promoted to Director of the Management Evaluation Division. He directed that division until 1980 when he became Director of the Administrative Services Division. He retired from Federal service while in this last position on Dec. 31, 1989. In 1977 Wayne was part of a three-person Management Team that received the Secretary of Agriculture’s Civil Rights Award.

After retirement from SCS, Wayne remained in the Washington, D.C., area. He worked for the Land Improvement Contractors of America, first as Executive Director of its Delmarva Chapter (1990-1993), then Executive Vice President of the organization nationally (1993-2008).

Wayne and Dolly have been married 62 years as of June 2012. They have 6 children (one has passed away), 18 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren. Over the years Wayne’s hobbies have included family activities, gardening, fishing, and camping. Wayne has said that he believes that the way to succeed if you supervise any number of people is to let your employees do their jobs and help whenever you can.


David C.


Senior Conservationist David C. Ralston was born at Beloit, Wisconsin. Beloit is on Wisconsin’s border with Illinois. He was raised near Roscoe, Illinois, a village just south of Beloit, on his family’s farm (Harlem Twp. Winnebago County). He attended Lovejoy grade school and Harlem High School. David relates that his father, Kenneth, was very active in conservation work early on both on the farm as well as serving on the Soil and Water District Board; the family farm’s conservation plan was signed January 12, 1939.

He attended the University of Illinois where he graduated in 1952 with a B.Sc. degree in Agricultural Engineering. He worked for SCS as a Student Trainee the last two summers before graduation. During the summer of 1952 he was hired by SCS as Agricultural Engineer and assigned to the Freeport (IL) area office. In July 1952 David was inducted into the US Army and served until 1954. He rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant in the 5th Regimental Combat Team and served as Platoon Sergeant for one year in Korea. He was honorably discharged in 1954.

After his discharge in 1954 he was hired by SCS as Assistant Area Engineer at Urbana, IL. He was promoted in-place to Area Engineer. While at Urbana, David worked toward a M.S. degree in Civil Engineering (hydraulics and soil engineering); he received that degree in 1958. He left Urbana in August 1958 when he was promoted to Design Engineer at the Milwaukee Engineering and Watershed Protection (E&WP) Unit. David worked there (with a promotion of grade) until July 1964 when he accepted the position of Assistant State Engineer in Saint Paul, MN. He served in that job until February of 1966 when he again accepted a promotion to SCS State Engineer for West Virginia in Morgantown. He was in that job until July 1971 when he was promoted to Regional Design Engineer at the Technical Service Center in Portland, OR. David served the western states three years until he was promoted to National Soil Engineer at SCS’s National Headquarters. He served in that job from December 1974 until 1977 when he was designated National Design Engineer and Head of the Design Branch of SCS’s Engineering Division. He provided leadership as National Design Engineer until he retired in August 1990. Following retirement, David worked part-time as Senior Geotechnical Engineer for Michael Baker Corporation (an engineering professional services firm).

David’s education and experience are evidence of his strong interest in conservation and in the theory and practice of his area of responsibility. In addition to his baccalaureate and graduate education, he completed graduate-level coursework at Marquette University in computer programming, at Harvard University in soil mechanics, at Portland State University in structure dynamics, and at Colorado State University in stream mechanics. He has authored/co-authored 21 professional, technical papers. These were presented at regional, national, or international meetings. Among the special activities in which he was involved during his career are the Embankment Construction Task Group (chairman) of the US Department of Interior Review Group for the Study of Teton Dam Failure (alternate member), the Subcommittee on Site Investigation and Design of the Ad Hoc Interagency Committee on Dam Safety (member), and the Task Group for Development of Federal Guidelines for Selection and Accommodation of the Inflow Design Floods for Dams (member). His work in SCS also involved training soil scientists in soil mechanics and training engineers and geologists in the soil engineering. He also initiated training for engineers in stream mechanics for channel design.

David and his wife, Margaret, have been married 57 years. They met in 1954 when his father-in-law, W.S. Speer, was assigned to Illinois following dissolution of SCS’s Milwaukee Regional Office. Margaret’s conservation background is as strong as David’s. They have one daughter and three sons and one grandchild. David is active in his church; he served two terms as Elder of Session. His hobbies include furniture crafting, gardening, genealogy (of his wife’s Speer Family), and softball. He and Margaret enjoy Elderhostel (Roads Scholar) opportunities, too. David relates, “I have always felt that my vocation was also my avocation! What more can you ask for in life?”


Gerald B. (Gerry)


Senior Conservationist Gerald B. Welsh (Gerry) was born in New York City. He grew up in the Greenwich Village part of the Borough of Manhattan. After high school, he attended Cornell University where he studied in the College of Agriculture. A requirement for graduation was on-farm experience, and Gerry spent his college summers as a farm worker. Prior to what would have been his senior year in 1951, Gerry joined the US Air Force. Although his desire to become a pilot was thwarted, he attended OCS and Supply Officer School. Just before he completed the latter training in 1953, the Korean War ended with signing of the Armistice Agreement. Gerry left the Air Force and started back at Cornell for his senior year. He majored in agricultural economics and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1954.

Gerry was hired by SCS in 1954 as agricultural economist on the Watershed Planning Staff at Syracuse, NY. He worked there until 1960, when he accepted the position of Watershed Planning Staff Leader in Santurce (a district of San Juan), Puerto Rico. He held that position until March, 1962, when his unit was administratively abolished, and he was named Watershed Planning Staff Leader in Burlington, VT, where he worked for three years. In 1965 Gerry became Watershed Planning Staff Leader in Phoenix, AZ. Also in 1965, Gerry met and married Alice Campbell. He was located in Phoenix for six years, during which he was promoted to River Basin Staff Leader and then to Assistant STC for Water Resources. While there, he was instrumental in interagency cooperation that led to development of the Map Information and Display System (MIADS). This system provided significant improvement in analysis of map and landscape-derived information for improved planning and decision-making. During Christmas week of 1971, Gerry and his family moved to the Washington, DC, area so that he could begin his new duties as Soil Conservationist in the Resource Development Division at SCS Headquarters. He worked in that capacity for 10 years. While there he had a four-year assignment to the International Joint Commission, United States and Canada, for the Great Lakes water quality study (Pollution from Land Use Activities Reference Group). In 1982 Gerry was assigned to the post of Research Coordinator during a reorganization of Headquarters. With that shift he joined the Ecological Sciences Division. He held that position until his retirement in 1990. During that period Gerry’s work with research agencies both inside and outside USDA did much to improve SCS’s ability to more easily acquire the latest in research information. It was also during this period that Gerry was a Legislative Fellow in the office of Senator Paul S. Trible, Jr. (R–VA).

After retirement from SCS, Gerry remained in the Washington, DC, area until 1998 when he and Alice moved to Little River, SC. Gerry and Alice will celebrate their 48th wedding anniversary on March 30th of this year. They have two sons, Michael and Marc. Over the years Gerry has been involved in many community and family activities. He is very active in his church (as Deacon and as Sunday School teacher) as well as in the Gideons and in jail ministry. He was a census worker in 1999. He has served on his community lakes and grounds committee. And, he and Alice have enjoyed travels around the United States. His hobbies and interests have also included baseball, softball, fishing, and golf. Gerry says that he is “…grateful for the opportunities he has had to work with so many wonderful people.”


Ida Diener


Senior Conservationist Ida Diener Cuthbertson was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up in Northeast Ohio’s Portage County. Ida attended schools there and was a 4-H member. After she graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.A. degree (Economics), she was employed as a statistician with the Ohio Department of Health. She was acting head of its Biometrics and Records Division before moving to Ann Arbor, MI, with her husband, as he completed his electrical engineering degree. While there she worked for Southwestern Michigan Hospital Council on a project sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation that developed the first automated hospital medical/surgical records system (a system still in use a half-century later). Ida retired briefly from professional work when her family moved to northern Virginia. There she became active on two Fairfax County advisory committees. With her children in grade school, she rejoined the workforce as a Technical Aide for Research Analysis Corporation (the US Army think tank). During that period she also completed a Master of Urban Affairs degree at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

In 1974, Ida was hired by SCS as Community Planner in the Resource Development Division’s Conservation Planning Branch at NHQ. She held that position until 1980 when she became SCS’s Public Participation Coordinator. She reports that during her SCS career her most fulfilling assignments were her public participation duties with an International Joint Commission study (where she introduced public participation concepts to Canadian colleagues) and with USDA’s Resource Conservation Act (RCA), the nationwide RCA opinion survey and analysis of public comments. Her work took her to 32 states as well as to Canada, and she became the first female to rise to GS-15 level in SCS career service. She received Outstanding Performance and Outstanding Assistance awards from SCS and USDA respectively for her work, and she was selected for inclusion in Who’s Who of American Women. She retired January 31, 1992, and subsequently relocated to Sarasota, Florida.

Since retiring, Ida has continued her public spirited service by serving two terms on the Sarasota Environmental Utility Advisory Committee, as Clerk in charge of elections at the precinct level for the past 17 years, and as an enumerator for both the 2000 and 2010 Federal Censuses. She served as ARCSE Florida Representative and ARSCE Vice President-South, as well as secretary for two NARFE chapters. Her volunteering includes ushering in Sarasota at three performing arts venues, her local food bank, a branch library, her church, and in her community chorus. A seven-continent traveler in retirement, her most notable travels are to her father’s Volga River valley birthplace and to Antarctica. She also thoroughly enjoys her family--her two children and their families, especially her two grandchildren. Ida gratefully attributes her healthy, happy life to her career at SCS.


Vernon M. (“Vern”)


Senior Conservationist Vernon M. (“Vern”) Hicks was born in Hico, Texas. Soon after his birth he and his family moved to Three Rivers, Texas, where Vern grew up on his family’s livestock farm. He graduated from public schools there during World War II. He enlisted and spent three years in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific Theater of War (from Okinawa to the Philippines). He was discharged in 1948 and spent the next two-plus years “roughnecking” on oil drilling rigs then “pipelining” in Ohio and Michigan. He then enrolled in Texas A&M University and graduated with a B.Sci. degree in Wildlife Management in 1954.

After his graduation, Vern was hired by SCS as a soil conservationist at the Raymondville (TX) field office in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. From 1957 to 1958 he worked as soil conservationist at Plainview (TX) on the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle. After Plainview, Vern was transferred to Fort Stockton in west Texas as Work Unit Conservationist; he was there for two years. In 1960 Vern accepted the position of State Biologist for Texas in the SCS State Office at Temple. He held that position until 1975 when he took the job of Regional Biologist for the Northeast and relocated to Upper Darby and then Broomall, Pennsylvania, when the office was moved. In 1980, Vern accepted the position of Director for the Environmental Services Division (ESD) at SCS National Headquarters (NHQ). He led ESD until the 1982 NHQ reorganization when he took the job of Assistant Director of the newly-formed Ecological Sciences Division (ECS). Vern retired in 1983 and subsequently moved to Belton, Texas. Of his early career, Vern has said that he “…very seldom got to go where he wanted to go, but from a training standpoint the locations were great.”

After retirement from SCS and his move to Texas, Vern has been involved with his family and with environmental consulting. His consulting service for 20 years was to lignite coal surface mining operations for which he inventoried pre-existing vegetation as well as fish and wildlife species. He then developed post-mining revegetation plans (required for mining permits and permit renewals) for his clients. Vern and his wife, Juanita, continue to enjoy their life at “Roadrunner Hill” in Belton, Texas, and their family across the country.




Senior Conservationist Bob Kohnke was born in Carroll, Carroll County, Iowa (about 95 miles northwest of Des Moines) and was raised on the family farm there. He graduated from Carroll High School in 1944 and was granted an agricultural deferment from military service for a few months to help his father and mother on the farm. He was later drafted into the U.S. Army. After basic training and artillery OCS he was sent to Japan for a year in the Army of Occupation on Honshu. He returned to civilian life in May 1947 and entered the Iowa State University (ISU) that Fall. Bob graduated in 1952 with a B.S. in Agricultural Engineering. That year he also married Donna Mae Pahde, another Carroll Countian, whom he had met anew when he enrolled at ISU.

After graduation in 1952, Bob was hired by the Soil Conservation Service as Area Engineer in Humboldt, IA. From Humboldt he was assigned to Council Bluffs, IA, where he was a drainage engineer on the Missouri River Flood Restoration. He was engineer on the Honey Creek Pilot Watershed at Chariton. In 1955 he accepted the position of Hydrologist on the Watershed Staff at the Iowa State Office. In 1957 he took the position of assistant hydrologist at the Milwaukee Engineering and Watershed Protection Unit where he worked until 1964. From Milwaukee Bob then went to the E&WP Unit at Upper Darby, PA. Bob worked there until 1966 when he accepted the position of Wabash River Basin Staff Leader in Indiana. In 1970 he was promoted to National Headquarters in the River Basin Division. Later he served as Director of the River Basin Division until his retirement January 9, 1982.

Bob did not remain retired for very long. In 1984 he began work with the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (Fairfax County, VA). There he worked on urban and suburban erosion and water management problems for 15 years. Bob’s wife Donna passed away in late 1988.

Since 1999 Bob has been involved in many volunteer activities, travel, and enjoying time with his 3 children and their spouses and with his 2 grandchildren. Bob still holds a private pilot license, but has not flown recently. In the past he also enjoyed making home-crafted beer. (He brewed 85 batches and could probably write a book.) He also is active at his Lutheran Church. Bob is a regular at the Northern Virginia Retiree Breakfast (first Tuesday of every month) where he is appreciated for his depth of knowledge about conservation, conservationists, and just about any other topic.




Senior Conservationist Cecil Martin is a recent addition to the honorable list of Senior Conservationists. He was born and raised in Elberton, Georgia (GA), where he also graduated from high school in 1943. After high school, he served in the U.S. Navy as an aerial gunner on a torpedo bomber. After WW II, in 1946, he started college under the GI Bill. He met Eugenia (Gene) Mitchell during his freshman year. They were married on April 16, 1948. He graduated from the University of GA with a BS in Ag Engineering in 1952.

Cecil’s career with SCS began immediately after graduation in Clarkesville, GA, as he became the Project Engineer for what was to become the first PL-566 (pilot) watershed project. Beginning his upward career movement, in 1956, he became Area Engineer for 26 counties in GA. In 1958, he was promoted to State Design Engineer in GA, supervising a design staff and a geologic site investigation staff.

His accomplishments as State Design Engineer are many, including having designed over 300 floodwater retarding dams, some over 100 feet high. Many of the dams contained additional water for recreational and municipal uses. There were many county recreation parks and stream channel stabilization measures, including one urban-area reinforced concrete-lined channel in Columbus, GA. It has water control structures based on hydraulic model studies made at GA Tech and still exists today.

In 1973, Cecil became the State Construction Engineer in Georgia. He retired from SCS in 1987 as Assistant State Conservation Engineer. He also retired from the US Air Force Reserve as a Civil Engineer (Major) in 1986.

Cecil received numerous job performance awards throughout his career with SCS. One rather unique award came from the Athens Junior Chamber of Commerce, when he was awarded their “Boss of the Year.” He also was a registered Professional Engineer and active in professional and civic organizations. Cecil has been a valuable asset to his church, Watkinsville First Baptist, as a member of Deacons and Chairman of Deacons. He served on several church building committees, including one that involved moving the church from downtown Watkinsville to a lovely new facility in a rural setting just east of the downtown area.

After retiring Cecil did engineering consulting work for about 4 years. Also, he served on a Water Task Force which developed a plan for a 4-county municipal water dam and reservoir which is now in operation.

Cecil and Gene have 5 children, 20 grandchildren and one great grandchild. They have enjoyed their travels and experiences and are currently enjoying retirement on their farm in Oconee County, Georgia. This is where Cecil has raised Angus beef cattle and hay since 1964.


Maurice “Mike”


Senior Conservationist Maurice “Mike” Stout was born in Winchester, OH. Mike’s family later moved to Hillsboro, OH. (Hillsboro is about 50 miles east Cincinnati.) He graduated from high school there and began studies at The Ohio State University in 1942. In 1943 he entered the U.S. Marine Corps and served in the South Pacific as part of the 4th Marine Air Wing. He was initially based on Samoa, but moved northward as the war progressed to the Marshall Islands where he was rotated to stateside in January 1945.. Mike saw duty from February 1943 through October 1945. Upon his return home he married and renewed his university studies. He graduated with a B.Sc. in Agriculture with a soils major and an economics minor).

After graduation in 1948, Mike was hired by the Soil Conservation Service as Area Soil Scientist in Hillsboro, OH, where he was promoted to Supervisory Soil Scientist in May 1953. His next position was Field Specialist (Soils) at Salina, KS in mid-1957. Two years later he was made Assistant State Soil Scientist for KS. About 8 months later Mike took the same position for the state of Texas and relocated to Temple. In September 1963 he was promoted to State Soil Scientist for SD at Huron; he held that position until January 1971 when he was promoted to Assistant Principal Soil Correlator at the Midwest Technical Service Center at Lincoln, NE.

In August 1972 Mike was promoted to head of the Soil Correlation Staff as Principal Soil Correlator and worked in that job until 1982 when he was tapped to be Director of the Midwest National Technical Service Center. Mike retired in January 1987 having served with distinction in all his work with SCS. During his career Mike received 12 Certificates of Merit for his individual work and was part of that honor when the Soil Correlation Staff received that award in 1977.

Mike and his wife Maxine have remained in Lincoln following his retirement. They have 5 sons, a daughter, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. On February 4th of this year, Mike & Maxine celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary. (Their acquaintance is longer; they have known each other since the second grade.) In retirement Mike has been involved with Meals on Wheels, his Neighborhood Watch, and other volunteer opportunities. His hobbies are traveling, fishing, duck carving, and “keeping up with family”. Mike writes that he continues to “…enjoy and appreciate the continued contact with former SCS’ers through retiree meetings, ad hoc coffees, and through the retiree newsletter.”




Senior Conservationist Mook Allen was born April 7, 1927, in Wood River, Illinois. (Wood River is about 20 miles from Saint Louis, MO, on the Mississippi River.) Mook was educated in local schools.

He was drafted late in WWII and was in training for the Pacific Theater (specifically the invasion of Japan) when he was given the opportunity to learn Japanese and become an interpreter/interrogator. He was honorably discharged in 1946. At the recommendation of his brother, Bill, he entered the University of Illinois where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1950. He worked for a while for Standard Oil, but his heart was elsewhere. In 1952 he became a W.A.E. Engineer with SCS, a position he held for three years. During that time he married; he and Helen were married September 12, 1953. In 1956 he joined McDonnell-Douglas Aircraft Corporation as an engineer on the Mercury and Gemini Space Project where he worked until 1968. Following that experience he rejoined SCS as an engineer. He was Area Engineer for Area 6 in Illinois from 1969 to 1982; he was Environmental Engineer at the Northeast NTC from 1983 to 1987. He then moved to the same position at the Midwest NTC, Lincoln, NE, until his retirement December 31, 1989. He worked following retirement in the Environmental Management Systems area of the Pork Producers.

Since retirement he also has continued active involvement in his church (where among other contributions he sings bass in the choir); he continues to be an active member of the American Legion (60-plus year member) where he serves as Post Service Officer and Americanism Chairman; he is President of his local chapter and Illinois District 1 Vice-President of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees. He has served as an EMT and worked as an ambulance driver for the Bunker Hill (IL) Area Ambulance Service. He has been a volunteer with the Boy Scout Program for over 20 years. He enjoys woodworking and gardening in his spare time.

Mook and Helen reside at 419 N. East Street, Bunker Hill, Illinois, about 20 miles north of Saint Louis. They have seven children, 17 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. Mook writes that “I had the opportunity to meet and become friends with many very dedicated, wonderful people during my years with SCS.” In his typically modest manner he also wrote that “…any honors I may have received were earned as a team member.”




Senior Conservationist Rayford Brister was born April 17, 1927, in Mertzon, Texas. (Mertzon is about 30 miles southeast of San Angelo.) Rayford attended local schools, and after graduation from high school, he joined the Navy where his duty was base security. He did farm and ranch work for about two years after his discharge from the Navy. He began university studies at Tarleton State University and assisted with peanut breeding research during his summers there. He transferred to Texas A&M University. While at A&M Rayford continued his work with peanut selection and also worked for ASCS in the summertime. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agronomy degree in 1952. That was also the year he married Helen and began his career with SCS. He retired from SCS in 1982 after having served as District Conservationist in Edwards, Real, King, Kerr, Maverick, and Medina Counties in Texas. From 1958 until 1963 Rayford took leave from SCS to work with first the International Cooperation Administration then the US Agency for International Development in Pakistan. His first assignment was to Rawalpindi as the agronomist on a 4-person team devoted to soil survey, range management, and engineering. After that program was closed he was transferred to Peshawar (Northeast Tribal Territories) where he participated in a project to determine suitability of hybrid seed corn varieties to local conditions and to hybridize varieties that showed promise. Rayford has remarked that “Every day [there] you could see something you had never seen before.” He returned to the US and to SCS as District Conservationist until his retirement.

Following retirement he worked as a real estate appraiser of both residential and agricultural properties. He has also enjoyed fishing and hunting and travels with his family. Rayford & Helen reside at 3126 War Arrow, San Antonio, TX. They have three children, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Rayford is proud of his careers both with SCS and with the State Department in Pakistan. His career has improved and sustained the wellbeing of all those with whom he worked. About Pakistan today, he writes: “It is disappointing to hear of the disturbances and fighting in the region where I have been. … Recently I was watching a television news commentary in Pakistan and it showed a small segment of news on agriculture about corn planted in rows with a tractor. The corn looked as good as any corn growing in the U.S. This indicated to me that we did show some success.”


Edgar (Ed) L.


Recently named to the Senior Conservationist rolls, Edgar (Ed) L. Helmey, is yet another example of the fine caliber of former conservation service employees who are now retired. He has served every community in which he lived and his country. He continues to serve others today from his retirement residence in Raleigh, North Carolina (NC).

He was born and raised in Georgia (GA), graduating in 1945 from Marlow Consolidated High School in Effingham County and in 1950 from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Engineering. Upon receiving his college degree, he joined the U.S. Air Force as an enlisted man. This was during the Korean Conflict.

Ed’s abilities were soon recognized by the military; and he began moving up the ranks, starting with earning his pilot wings and an officer’s commission in 1953. Until Ed was released from active duty in 1956, he was involved in B-29 combat training, assigned to a B-29 combat crew (Okinawa), and reassigned to Smoky Hill Air Force Base in Salina, Kansas (KS).

His career with the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) began in April 1956, as a Civil Engineer in Gainesville, GA. As the Area Engineer in Northeast GA, until January 1968, he was responsible for engineering work in 14 counties. This being the early years of the PL-566 small watersheds work, there were 8 to 14 engineering project contracts each year. He also continued serving as a pilot with the Air National Guard, Army, and Air Force Reserves during this period. He was busy on weekends and active duty days flying F-86’s on intercept missions and C-124 cargo aircraft all over the world, at least one overseas mission every 3 months.

In January 1968, Ed was promoted and transferred to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (PA) as the State Construction Engineer. Before he could complete the move from Gainesville, GA, to Harrisburg, PA, his Air Force Reserve unit was activated and called to support the efforts of the Vietnam War. His unit was part of the Air Force Military Airlift Command (MAC) and they flew support missions all over the world. He supported Navy Operations in Spain, NASA Operations in the Caribbean, NATO in Europe, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, South America, and supplies for the Pacific into Vietnam. He was released from active duty and finally reported to work with SCS in Harrisburg in June 1969.

Ed’s dual career continued, with him flying with the PA Air National Guard. He was awarded the rating of wings of “Command Pilot,” the highest rating of an Air Force pilot. He retired from that unit in December 1978, after 28 years, as a Lieutenant Colonel.

A summary of Ed’s SCS career from June 1969 until he retired in January 1988 follows:

1969 - 1971 Construction Engineer, PA; State Conservation Engineer

1974 - 1981 Regional Construction Engineer; Head of Engineering, Region of Northeast & Caribbean Area

1981 - 1988 Deputy State Conservationist, GA

A few of his civic involvements include leadership positions with NARFE, a life membership with ARSCSE (since its inception), Georgia Salzburger Society life member, and founding committee member of the Atlanta Chapter, a 20-year member of the Athens Rotary Club, and active involvement in his churches. He received many awards and special recognitions from his employers and organizations.

Last, but not least, is mention of his loving wife of nearly 55 years, Marilyn Howe Helmey. Together they have 2 sons and 4 grandchildren. Ed and Marilyn’s relocation from GA to NC in 2004 placed them close enough to their immediate family so that they can have more interactions. If anyone wants to reacquaint themselves with Ed or get more information about his interesting life, his email address is




Senior Conservationist Gene Highfill was born July 26, 1928 in Cherokee, OK. At the age of 2 his family moved to Friona, TX where he began elementary school. In 1936 his family moved to AR where he graduated from Siloam Springs High School in 1946. After high school Gene served in the Air Force as a radio operator. He was based in Japan and had duties throughout the western Pacific region. He started college in 1949 under the GI Bill. He met Ann Mason during his freshman year. They were married June 1, 1950. Gene graduated in 1953 from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Engineering. He began working for SCS as an Area Engineer in Erie and Iola, KS, in 1953. In 1960 he became watershed planning engineer at Salina, KS, and in 1961 he accepted the job of Project Engineer for Watersheds in Atchison and Sedan, KS. In 1966 he went to Washington, DC, as a recreation specialist for the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation. From that job he accepted the position of Assistant State Engineer with SCS at Champaign, IL; from 1970 through 1972 he was ASTC for Watersheds at Champaign. In 1972 he took the job of watershed planning engineer at SCS Headquarters. From 1974 until he retired in 1983, Gene served as National Agricultural Engineer. He retired from SCS on July 30, 1983. Following retirement from Federal service, Gene continued to devote his talents to soil and water conservation issues around the country and the world. He worked on conservation projects and plans for Lesotho and Zambia in Africa and Saint Kitts in the Leeward Islands. He worked as Business Manager/Treasurer for Baptist Missions in Macau. And, for 26 years he prepared income tax returns --- first for H and R Block then for AARP as a volunteer. Gene also served in the US Air Force Reserve as a civil engineer; he retired July 31, 1977, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Gene & Ann have four children (one son and three daughters), 12 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren. They have enjoyed their travels and worldwide experiences and are currently enjoying retirement in Fort Myers, FL.


Paul M.


Senior Conservationist Paul M. Howard was born August 20, 1925, in Hamilton County, Tennessee, just outside Chattanooga.  He graduated from Sale Creek High School in 1943 and was drafted into the US Army in 1944. He went through basic training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and from there was selected to be in the Army Counter Intelligence Corps. He spent one year training at Baltimore, Maryland, where he learned Japanese and subsequently was stationed in Tokyo in October 1945. Upon his discharge from the Army in 1947 he enrolled at the University of Tennessee. Because of the G.I. Bill Paul says he was able to go full-time and thereby was able to graduate in December 1950. His goal upon graduation (with a B.Sc. in Agricultural Education) was to teach Vocational Agriculture. He and four friends decided to go to Indiana to seek teaching positions. Paul said that it was simply because Indiana paid its VoAg teachers better than Tennessee did. Paul and friends drove to Purdue University, looked at the vacancies across the state, and then drew city names “out of a hat”. Paul drew French Lick, Indiana. He went there, was interviewed, and was hired on the spot. He taught there from 1951 to 1955. During that time he met and married Betty Clark in 1952; they will celebrate their 59th wedding anniversary this coming December.

Paul’s SCS career began in 1955 at Paoli, IN, which is just 10 miles from French Lick. He was a trainee for one year, but by the time he left Paoli in 1960, he was District Conservationist. From Paoli he was promoted to AC at Muncie, Indiana, where he worked until 1963. He then took the AC position at Vincennes, Indiana, where there was much more in the way of watershed activity. In 1966 Paul was promoted to Assistant STC at Orono, Maine, where he worked until 1968. In that year his career took him to Des Moines, Iowa, where he worked as Deputy STC. In 1970 he accepted a promotion to State Conservationist for Tennessee where he led state activities until 1975. In that year he was promoted to Director of what was the Resource Conservation Division; he led that Division until 1977 when he became an Assistant Administrator. Another reorganization in the very early 1980s led to Paul being named Deputy Chief for Technology. He held that position until he retired March 1, 1986.

Paul’s breadth of leadership included the international scope of soil and water conservation. He championed international exchange of technology as a way to strengthen SCS’s domestic conservation “tool kit”. Among his personal achievements in this area was his leadership in 1980 of the first USDA delegation to the Peoples Republic of China. Paul & Betty moved to Sarasota, Florida, three years after his retirement and have enjoyed living there. They have two married sons, Jeffrey and Don, and four grandsons. They enjoy gardening and travel (international and domestic).


Kenneth L


Kenneth L Williams was born March 24, 1927, and raised on a dairy farm near Vineyard, UT (about forty miles south of Salt Lake City). He attended public schools through high school. He then enrolled in Brigham Young University. Following his freshman year, he was employed as a W.A.E. Conservation Aid by the Soil Conservation Service (SCS). While preparing to return to college he was encouraged to take the Civil Service Examination for a position of Student Trainee. He passed and SCS employed him at several locations in UT. He graduated from “The Y” in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy.

Ken married Jewel Frampton, his college sweetheart, in 1950 and spent the next two years managing a cattle ranch for her father. He returned to the SCS as a Soil Conservationist in Layton, UT. Between 1954 and 1961 Ken served as District Conservationist in Moab, Huntington, Castle Dale, and Beaver, UT. He then accepted a job as Assistant Area Conservationist, with headquarters at Sebastopol. CA. There was a sizable small watershed program in this area; this was his primary responsibility. In the fall of 1963, Ken enrolled at the University of Michigan in a Masters program that focused on developing methodologies that entities could use to make better use of economic analysis in resource allocation and utilization policy development. Upon completion, Ken was assigned as area conservationist at North Vernon, IN, from June 1963 through January 1965 when he was assigned as State Resource Conservationist for AZ. He was reassigned as Assistant State Conservationist for Operations and Management in Phoenix in 1966. He was promoted to State Conservationist for NM in October 1968 where he served until April 1972. He was then assigned as Western States Field Representative and Director of the West Regional Technical Service Center in Portland, OR. Ken transferred to the National Office in 1980 as Deputy Chief for Planning and Evaluation. The most pressing part of his job at this time was completion of the National Conservation Program along with a statement of policy by the President transmitting it to the congress. The primary objective for the program was to ensure that in 2030 our nation could still meet its food and fiber needs. The documents were sent to Congress by President Reagan in December 1982. Ken retired March 31, 1983, and returned with Jewel to their home in Portland. They moved to Orem, UT, November 1992. Sadly, Jewel passed away in February 2001.

Ken has always been grateful for Jewel and their family. They had three children, a daughter Joan, then a son Steven, and then another daughter Janet. He extends them his thanks and his gratitude for their willingness to accept the many moves they made and for the support they gave in his career. Joan, Steven, and his wife Katie live in Orem. Janet and her husband John Barringer reside in Matthews, NC. On his 83rd birthday Ken considered his greatest achievement in life to be his three children, fifteen grandchildren, and thirteen great-grandchildren.

Most of his years following retirement have been spent as a volunteer in several capacities in his Church. He is an avid genealogist and has assisted numerous families as they traced their ancestors. His wife Jewel’s genealogy included a large portion of the royalty of England and Europe which added a lot of interest to their research. Ken resides, as of March 2011 at 212 South 1100 East, Orem, UT 84097-5754. His telephone is 801-554-9272. He would enjoy hearing from his friends and former colleagues.


Willie Leroy


Willie Leroy Adcock (“Leroy”) was born September 23, 1921, at Cuero, TX, where later he was an honor student and FFA officer at Cuero High School. His vocational agriculture teacher, Fred L. Hansen, inspired him to attend college and choose agriculture as a profession. Leroy attended Texas A&M University. His career at TAMU was interrupted by WWII. He served as a 1st Lieutenant in both the 1st and 3rd Armies in the Field Artillery as an artillery air observer. For his courageous actions, he was awarded the Air Medal with decorations. Following the war he resumed his studies at TAMU and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in agricultural education August 24, 1946. He also served in the 131st Division of the Texas National Guard as liaison pilot; he served six years and was discharged with the rank of Captain August 9, 1954. That same year he earned a Master of Science degree in range management from TAMU. Prior to his work with the SCS Leroy taught vocational agriculture for 6 years --- first to veterans at Beeville, then in high schools in Cotulla and Sinton (TX). He has said that he became interested in conservation work while flying with the National Guard. He “…noticed sheet erosion on cultivated land, and gully erosion everywhere, as well as absence of grass in the brush.”

His SCS work experience began as a Trainee and then as a Soil Conservationist (GS-7), Bellville (TX) Field Office from November 8, 1953 to February 1972. He then served as Range Conservationist (GS-7) at Denton (TX) from February 1972 to February 1975 and as Range Conservationist (GS-9) at Decatur (TX) from February 1975 until his retirement August 28, 1980. He was awarded several Certificates of Merit over the course of his career, including an Outstanding Performance award. His approach to range management and resource stewardship was to encourage and educate land owners so they could make informed and correct decisions for the long-term viability of their resource base. Following retirement from SCS, Leroy joined his wife as an agent for the National Farm Life Insurance Company of Fort Worth. This third career kept him in contact with the farmers and ranchers he knew and respected.

Leroy is married to Margaret Louise Ballow. They celebrated their 57th anniversary April 3rd of this year. They have a daughter (Kathy) and a son (Timothy), and one grandson. Leroy & Louise celebrated their 50th anniversary by spending a week in Washington, DC. Leroy reports that his hobbies have included bird hunting, fishing, gardening, and landscaping with native plants. He has been very active in his church, the First Baptist Church of Tyler, Texas. He resides at 728 Sutherland Drive, Tyler, Texas, 75703. Leroy reports that he is in good health and would like to hear from his former colleagues.


Everette G.


I recently had the opportunity to visit with Senior Conservationist Everette G. Barefoot to talk with him about his World War II experiences as gunner on a B-24 bomber in Europe as well as his career with the Soil Conservation Service.

Everette grew up on a cotton and tobacco farm in Johnston County, North Carolina near Four Oaks.   He graduated from Four Oaks High School in 1942 and went to junior college for a year before volunteering for the Army Air Corps.   He was inducted into the service on December 13, 1943, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.   After Basic Training in Miami Beach, he was sent to Tyndal Field in Florida for gunnery school where he trained as a ball (or belly) gunner.   He was sent to Charleston, South Carolina.   There he learned the names of those who would be the rest of his 10-man, B-24 crew for the duration of the war.   The crew consisted of four officers:   pilot, co-pilot, navigator, bombardier and six enlisted men – radio operator, flight engineer, tail gunner, ball/belly gunner, nose gunner and top turret gunner.

On his 20th birthday, September 9, 1944, they left Grenier Field, Manchester, New Hampshire with orders to fly via North Atlantic Route to the European Theater of Operations in England to be assigned to the 445th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force.   After several stops for refueling and delays due to bad weather, they arrived at their new base, Tibenham, England on September 26th.   The next day, which was his first full day at the base, the 8th Air Force sustained the highest group loss in its history.   Out of 37 bombers dispatched to bomb Kassel, Germany, the 445BG lost 30 planes.   Everette said, “We got up and ate breakfast with the crews that were flying that day and watched them take off.   By mid-afternoon we were watching for their return.   However, only five of the 37 planes returned.   Early in the mission, two planes had aborted due to mechanical problems.   It was a sad day for us.”

Everette participated in 20 missions from October 7, 1944 until April 10, 1945.   The primary targets for their missions were munitions plants, marshalling yards, oil refineries, airfields, railroads, bridges, and synthetic oil plants.   Enemy flack and fighter planes were a common occurrence on most missions. Everette recalled that on his first mission he was so scared he could not respond when the pilot radioed to see how he was doing; the co-pilot came to check on him.   The only member of their crew to be killed during the war was the bombardier.   After Germany’s surrender, he returned to the States, and received a thirty-day leave.   Everette took advantage of this time to marry Jean Cooper June 12, 1945.   Jean was the girl he took to his Junior-Senior prom.   After the leave, Everette and his crewmates reported to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.   From there they went to Las Vegas, Nevada, for B-29 bomber training in preparation for the South Pacific Theater.   He was at Las Vegas when Japan surrendered.   Sergeant Barefoot was discharged November 19, 1945, at Lowry Field, Denver, Colorado.

Everette was awarded the Air Medal and two Oak Leaf Clusters for meritorious service with the Army Air Force for his service in Europe.   For the past 60 years the crew has kept in touch with each other.   Beginning in 1954, they began having reunions.   At first the reunions were sporadic but later became an annual event.   Everette is the only crew member still living.

Everette began his career with SCS on August 24, 1948 as a SP 4 technician in Johnston County.   Everette says that his most enjoyable job with SCS was working with farmers and especially helping them install tile drainage, farm ponds and grassed waterways.   He retired on February 22, 1980.   Everette and Jean have two sons, Stephen and Michael, and one grandson, John.   They still live on part of the family farm where he was reared.   After retiring from SCS, Everette raised strawberries and established a country ham curing enterprise.   In 1998 he retired a second time.

By: Jim Canterberry

NC ARSCSE Representative


I.W. “Bill”


I. W. “Bill” Fobair was born on the Niobrara ranch near Butte, Nebraska, that was homesteaded by his grandfather in 1890. Following the 1929 Stock Crash the family moved to Butte. By the time Bill reached the eighth grade he was determined to become a conservationist due to the severe rill and gully erosion he witnessed in rural Boyd County. He served in the U.S. Navy during WWII (1943-1947) and again during the Korean War (1951-1953). In between those wars he received his B.Sc. in Agriculture from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. There he was a charter member of their student chapter of the Soil Conservation Society of America. He married Joyce A. Pellew in 1949. Joyce was “...a knowledgeable, young lady from New Zealand”, Bill writes.

By September 1953, when Bill received his second discharge from the Navy, Joyce expressed a desire to visit her family. Bill had never met them so they planned an extended trip to New Zealand before Bill started his career in the Soil Conservation Service. They made the trip aboard the HMS Oronsay, with stops in Hawaii and Fiji, arriving in New Zealand in December, 1953. Bill pursued post-graduate studies at the Canterbury Agricultural College, in Lincoln, South Island, New Zealand. Prof. McCaskill was his counselor. Prof. McCaskill was acquainted with the SCS program in the U.S. Later Don Williams, upon request by the New Zealand government, spent six weeks in developing his recommendations for carrying out their Soil and Water Conservation program. Bill still has a copy of his report. Bill took out a patent pending for a foldable, rolling shopping basket, had 1000 made, and sold them after graduation in 1954 while still in New Zealand. The proceeds paid for their return to the States in 1955.

Bill started his career with SCS at North Platte, Nebraska in May 1955. He was assigned to the Alma, Nebraska, Work unit in late 1956. In 1964 Bill and his staff received the Superior Service Award. Bill later served as Area Conservationist in Flint, Michigan, Resource Conservation and Development Coordinator in the Panhandle of Nebraska and as Seed Production Specialist, for the small livestock industry, Tunis, Tunisia. Bill retired in 1981 with 33 years of service including 7 years with the US Navy.

After retirement, Bill continued his work in resource conservation. From 1982 to 1986 he was under contract to Utah State University and Louis Berger International to implement a soil and water conservation program in the Central Rangelands Development Project in Somalia. The program included dune stabilization in eleven villages, establishment of three regional nurseries, water well rehabilitation, and construction of dams and dugouts.

After Somalia, Bill and Joyce lived in Sedona for 13 years before moving to Cottonwood, Arizona, in 1998. Bill and Joyce have traveled to 39 countries, all states in the U.S. with one exception, and several Canadian provinces. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary July 5, 2009. Their son Roger is a mechanical engineer with John Deere at its corporate headquarters. Their son, Ralph, is Technical Education Director at Mingus Union High School in Cottonwood. Bill and Joyce have three grandchildren. Bill traces his family history to Montreal and enjoys genealogy, landscape design, and consultation. He feels he owes his success and enjoyable career to hard work and his shared experiences with other committed conservationists he worked with along the way. If you would like to drop Bill a note, his email address is




Karl Klingelhofer was born on 8/11/26 and raised on family farm in Central Illinois. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps when he was 17 but never got to fly since they had a surplus of pilots. He graduated from the Univ. of Wisconsin in 1948 in Agricultural Engineering. After taking a number of post-graduate courses he became a Registered Professional Engineer in Illinois in 1952. While at the U of W, he took the exam for the Soil Conservation Service in 1948 and was selected for an Engineer-Training position at Littleton, CO. However, a recruiter from International Harvester came on campus looking for an Agricultural Engineer to be Field Manager of a hemp plantation at Davao, Southern Mindanao, Philippine Islands. Why he was interested and why it turned out to be a bad decision is a long story, but after extensive consultation with his fiancée, Georgann, he decided to accept the position and left for the P.I. two months after they were married.

That didn’t prove to be a good decision, but he was still eligible for the position with the SCS and took the job as Engineer in Training at Ogden, UT; still in 1948. They missed the Midwest, and moved to Ohio in 1949 where he was an Asst. Work Group Engineer and then Work Group Engineer. In 1951 the “grass appeared greener on the other side of the fence” and he took a position as Groundwater Hydrologist with the Illinois State Water Survey. In 1953, he returned to the SCS as an Area Engineer and Engineering Specialist in Michigan; then to Asst. State Conservation Engineer in 1958 in Minnesota. In 1964 they moved to Amherst, MA where he was the State Conservation Engineer and Acting Asst. for Watersheds. Karl said that was the best job he ever had because of the very active watershed program. After seven years there, he took a position in the National Office as Asst. Director of Watershed Planning Division and then the Director of the Planning Division for three years. This was a very active time for PL 566. He managed $11M (1974$) of planning funds and testified before Congressional Committees several times. He became Chief of Floodplain Management and Special Projects Branch which included the Colorado Salinity Control Program and worked on the National Water Assessment. While in this position, he was a US delegate to a UN Water Conference in E. Germany. Karl retired from the SCS on August 28, 1981 and stayed in the DC area for another 10 years working as a private consultant, full and part time, for a private engineering firm. He had two volunteer assignments; one month in Costa Rica and one on the Island of Roatan. In 1991, they moved to Tucson, AZ to an Active Adult retirement community and he continued part time work for the private engineering firm until age 75.

The Klingelhofers have two sons, 5 grandchildren, and one great grandson. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with a trip to Europe and then Georgann developed a rare incurable medical condition. Georgann passed away November 2008 after 60 years of marriage. Karl still plays tennis, is taking flying lessons, and just returned from a trip around the world that included Australia, New Zealand, and India. The trip generated 900 pictures. His career with SCS will always be the cornerstone of his professional life.




Senior Conservationist Lennie Losh was born in Lakewood, Ohio, March 12, 1925. He worked summers on his family’s farm in Knox County, Ohio. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943 and served as a combat infantryman in both the European and Pacific Theaters of World War II. On his return to civilian life he entered The Ohio State University (OSU) in 1946.

While attending OSU in 1946, he withdrew and joined SCS as Conservation Aid in Scioto County, Ohio. He returned to OSU, graduating in 1949 in Agronomy and 1951 in Economics. He returned to SCS and in 1953 became Work Unit Conservationist for Shelby County, Ohio. He was promoted in 1955 to Ohio’s SCS State Office as Watershed Economist. In 1960, he became Ohio’s Watershed Party Leader (he was the first nonengineer in SCS appointed to that position at the state level). In 1964, he was assigned to the Regional Office in Milwaukee to lead RC&D project planning in the Midwest. In 1965, Lennie was at the Midwest Technical Service Center, Lincoln, NE. From 1966 to 1980, he served in SCS’s National Office. His duties included serving as USDA’s representative to the U.S. Navy and to the U.S. Defense Department on economic activities, helping develop the National Soil and Water Conservation Program, and representing USDA on the White House Council of Environment Quality.

Upon retirement in 1980, he joined President Reagan’s campaign as agriculture consultant. He returned to Ohio after the election and developed Ohio’s Soil and Water Conservation Program. In 1981, he returned to Washington and joined Congressman M. G. Oxley’s, (R-OH) staff handling economic and agricultural issues. In campaign years, he briefly served on the House Republican Research Committee and as a consultant to President George H. W. Bush’s 1988 campaign. He left the House of Representatives in 1995, returned to Ohio, and joined the Ohio Department of Agriculture for a year as consultant on environmental and conservation issues to the Director of Agriculture. While working for SCS he received numerous awards and commendations including the Superior Service Award. He authored several papers published in the Soil Conservation Magazine, the Ohio Academy of Science, the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, and the American Farmland Trust. He appeared before the Ohio Senate Agriculture Committee on conservation issues. He was named a Fellow of the Ohio Academy of Science; and, in 2007 was inducted into the Ohio Agriculture Hall of Fame.

Lennie continues to be active in agriculture circles. In 2006 and 2007, he represented U. S. Agriculture on the US Export-Import Bank’s Advisory Committee. Currently, he serves on the Israel-Ohio Agriculture Initiative Advisory Committee, the NRCS State Technical Committee, and as consultant to Land Stewards, LLC.

Lennie is extremely proud of SCS for providing the opportunity for a satisfying career in conservation, and, for the wonderful colleague relationships during his career. He is married to Jean Hippler Losh. They have a son, a daughter, and 2 granddaughters. He continues to operate the family farm, enjoy fishing in Lake Erie and in farm ponds, gardening, and consulting with Ohio farmers on USDA programs.




Senior Conservationist Bob MacLauchlan was born at home on the family farm near Dennysville, Maine. (Dennysville is in eastern Maine just a few miles from Nova Scotia and at the head of Dennys Bay, a tributary of the Bay of Fundy.) Bob graduated from Dennysville High School and at the age of 17 joined the US Navy. He served in the Pacific theater of World War II. After the war he attended the University of Maine, where he graduated in 1949 with a Bachelor of Science degree in agronomy. Following graduation, Bob worked for the Extension Service in Oxford County, Maine, in 1949. He took a job in 1950 with Soil Conservation Service that required him to relocate to California! There he met Ruth who became his wife. From then until he accepted a position at SCS Headquarters, his career posts were west of the Mississippi River. Among those positions were agronomist at the SCS Nursery in Pleasanton, CA; assistant manager of the Bellingham (WA) Plant Materials Center; Plant Materials Specialist for Western Oregon and Washington then for California and western Nevada, and Regional Plant Materials Specialist at the Midwest National Technical Service Center. In 1973 Bob was selected to be National Plant Materials Specialist; he held that position until his retirement in 1985.

Bob’s knowledge of conservation plant materials and his leadership of the program were recognized nationally and internationally. He participated in technology exchanges with Algeria, (Peoples Republic of) China, Mexico, and the Soviet Union. Upon retirement, Bob and his wife Ruth returned to Lincoln, Nebraska. There Bob and Ruth were immersed in family activities, recreation, and community service. Ruth passed away in 2002. Bob and Ruth have four children. Their three daughters are married and teach in Nebraska schools. Their son is married and is a pilot with Delta Airlines. Bob reports that he has 9 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Bob has continued to be active in NARFE, Kiwanis, Meals-on-Wheels, gardening, hunting (big game) and fishing.


Oran (Bill) F.


Recently I spoke with Oran (Bill) F. Bailey of Peralta, New Mexico, to determine what aspects of his interesting life he’d like me to share with ARSCSE newsletter readers. Like so many of our Senior Conservationists, Mr. Bailey has participated fully in life, not just a career with SCS.

After graduating from Oklahoma State in 1949 with a Bachelor of Science degree, Mr. Bailey began his 30-year career with SCS. Because his SCS career took him to many parts of the world, a list of key positions held follows:

1949-1955, Soil Scientist (SS), Anadarko, OK

1955-1958, Area SS, Altus, OK

1959-1967, Assistant SS, Las Cruces, NM

1968-1971, Assistant State SS, Albuquerque, NM

1971-1972, US AID Soil Advisor, New Delhi, India

1972-1976, State SS, Honolulu, HI

1976-1980, State SS, Albuquerque, NM

Mr. Bailey (stage name Bill Bailey) shared with me that music (primarily fiddling) has been a part of his life outside of his work career since 1949. He fiddled at square dances and performed for entertainment everywhere he lived, including India and Hawaii. He broadened his focus somewhat to country music around 1958, playing in local country or family bands. This lasted until he completed a Master’s Degree at NM State University. He was then transferred to the SCS State Office in Albuquerque.

Bill Bailey and the Country Classic Band was formed in the late 1970’s and continues performing to this day. Edith Bailey, Bill’s wife, is at his side playing rhythm guitar in the Country Classic Band. They played together on two CD’s that were produced by the Fiddlers and Musicians of New Mexico, Inc. and recorded one CD with Country Classic Band. They have many trophies and honors for their contributions to music history.

Bill and Edith Bailey

Just this year, Mr. Bailey experienced yet another new musical adventure. While at the Veterans Hospital in Albuquerque, NM, he learned of a 20-year old program called National Veterans Creative Arts program. As a veteran of WWII and a patient at a Veterans Hospital, he met the requirements to compete. He competed in the musical portion of the local program, and his performances (singing and instrumentals in Blue Grass and Country music) were videotaped and submitted for the national competition. He competed in the over-65 age group. He won all of the categories in which he competed in the local competition. In addition, he won the national vocal country category and second place in the national instrumental country category. His reward was a one week, full expenses-paid trip to Riverside, CA. He was treated to many tours and a wonderful experience of performing with about 70 other talented veterans during his trip.


Neil and Eleanor


Our featured Senior Conservationists are a lovely married couple, Neil and Eleanor Bogner.   Both of them have reached the minimum age required to become a Senior Conservationist (83 years), and they both have worked for SCS.   As a matter of fact, that is what brought them together initially. Neil was fairly early in his career with SCS when he met Eleanor, who was the Area Clerk in Urbana, Illinois (IL) in 1953 and 1954.   Neil had graduated from the University of IL in 1950 with a BS in Engineering and Agriculture.   He started his career with SCS as a student trainee in 1949 in Henry, IL.   He continued with engineering jobs at Bloomington, IL, Caruthersville, Missouri (MO), and Urbana, IL.   (Chronicler notes that SCS used to make employees move around more than they do today.)

Eleanor and Neil married in November 1954.   He moved that month, to another position with SCS, this time as an Area and Project Engineer, in Macomb, IL.   Neil’s career blossomed; however, SCS lost a good employee when Eleanor began moving to support Neil’s career and to raise their family.  He became the Regional Construction Engineer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (WI) in 1961.   He later transferred to the Upper Darby, Pennsylvania (PA) office (1964)to be that Region’s Construction Engineer.   In 1967, he was promoted to Head, Engineering Watershed Protection Unit for the Upper Darby Region.

Neil and Eleanor finally settled down in the Washington, D.C. area in 1972.   He held 3 key positions at the National Office until he retired in 1983 -- Assistant Director of Engineering Division, Director of Engineering Division, and Associate Deputy Chief for Technology. Neil has been honored for his many years of supporting ARSCSE; however, both Neil and Eleanor also need to be recognized for their 17 years of volunteer work at Fairfax Hospital in Virginia (VA).   Eleanor and Neil were coordinators for several years.

They continue sharing the ups and downs of life today, 55 years later.   Who said that office romances don’t last!   A big change for them recently was moving from their home in Springfield, VA to a senior community in Catonsville, Maryland.   They are closer in proximity to some of their family, and enjoying that very much.

Neil and Eleanor Bogner



John I.


Senior Conservationist John I. Brubacher, 83, grew up on an irrigated farm in San Luis Valley, Colorado (CO), and he resides in Ft. Collins, CO.   As you’ll learn, however, he and his wife, Leona, have moved around a bit.

His initial travels outside of CO were compliments of the U.S. Army Air Force in 1944.   He was a ball turret gunner on the B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber, 8th Air Force, Polebrook, England.   He was discharged in 1946.   After returning home, John worked as a parts man in a farm implement facility for 1 year.   He then used the GI Bill to start college at Adams State in Alamosa, CO.   He transferred to Colorado A & M in Ft. Collins, CO, in the General Agriculture field (Colorado A & M is now Colorado State University).   John married Leona about 1 year before he graduated from Colorado A & M in 1952.

John’s career with SCS began in 1953 in Durango, CO, as a Soil Scientist.   He transferred to Julesburg, CO, in late 1953; and while there, he completed soil surveys of Sedgwick and Phillips counties.   Both were published.   John transferred to Steamboat Springs, CO, in 1965, as Party Leader in Routt county.   He also had Soil Scientist responsibilities in Moffat, Rio Blanco, Eagle, and Jackson counties.

An out-of-state move to Lincoln, Nebraska, came in 1973.   John worked there as the Assistant State Soil Scientist until late 1979.   Among other things, he wrote sections for York and Lancaster counties soil surveys; and he co-authored the Furnas county soil survey.   John was selected to be the State Soil Scientist in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1979.   He remained in that position until his retirement in 1986.

Since retiring, John and Leona have traveled much of the West, including Hawaii and Canada.   He is a life member of Soil and Water Conservation Society of America and a member of Poudre Golden K Kiwanis Club in Ft. Collins.   With John having excellent health, he continues to be active in gardening, woodwork, and fishing.   He and Leona have 2 sons, 2 daughters, and 10 grandchildren.   They live in Colorado, Nebraska, and Georgia.

A recent milestone for John and Leona was their 57th wedding anniversary in June 2008.   A special career accomplishment, in this chronicler’s opinion, is that John received safe-driving awards during his entire career with SCS.   Knowing something about the wildlife and driving records of the residents of the states in which he worked, I’d say that is quite an accomplishment. Way to go, John!


Orville W.


Former Area Conservationist, Orville W. Love, now 92, is our featured Senior Conservationist.   Born and raised in Kansas, Mr. Love now lives just across the Missouri River in St. Charles, Missouri, near his daughter, Janet.   He enjoys spending time in Kansas City with his daughter, Sherry, and her family.   He also takes pleasure in hearing from his son, Doug, who lives in Illinois, and has three busy, young adult children.

Mr. Love lives alone since the passing of Virginia, his wife of 62 years, in 2008.   He still drives and attends church, American Legion meetings, and NARFE meetings.   He also exercises regularly, which could help to explain his active participation in life’s activities.   Mr. Love has enjoyed his volunteer activities, which are all about helping others -- Boy and Girl Scouts, 4-H, church, and the public library.

He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from Kansas State University in 1941.   After graduating with honors, but before joining USDA’s SCS, he worked one year with USDA’s Farm Security Administration, served four and one-half years in the U.S. Air Force, and then worked one year with the Veteran‘s Administration.

Mr. Love’s military service was performed during World War II.   He was a Communication’s Officer for cryptography and intelligence.   He served at a base on Adak Island in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska.   After receiving the American Theater medal, the Asiatic Pacific Service medal and World War II Victory medal, he separated from the military with the rank of Major. His 30-plus year career with SCS spanned from 1947 to 1980.   His career included working as a Work Unit Conservationist in Olathe, KS, an Assistant Area Conservationist in Emporia, KS, and finally an Area Conservationist in Topeka, KS.   Mr. Love still has a farm in Johnson County, Kansas, which he has owned since 1950.   He ensures that conservation practices are still being followed.

Mr. Love states that watching the Beijing Olympics on TV last year was especially interesting since he and daughter, Janet, spent three weeks touring China in 1988.   It hardly looked like the same place they remember.


J. Phillip


North Carolina (NC) ARCSE Representative, Jim Canterberry, has done it again!   He wrote a wonderful story on one of the NC Senior Conservationists, J. Phillip Murray.   On the Senior’s 87th birthday, Jim had an opportunity to visit with him about his World War II service as a B-24 co-pilot as well as his career with the Soil Conservation Service.   Excerpts from Jim’s story follow.

Phillip graduated from Spring Hope High School in Nash County, North Carolina, in 1938.   He wanted to be a civil engineer so he enrolled at NC State College.   After three semesters, WW II was in full swing so he decided that he should join the Army and become a pilot.   He rode a bus to Raleigh and took the required test.   No sooner than getting home, he received a call at his brother’s house telling him that he was selected for glider pilot training.   On June 25, 1942, Phillip was officially inducted into the Army in Raleigh, NC.

While Phillip was in glider pilot training at Lockbourne, Ohio, he, along with several others, were told that they were being transferred for training to be a bomber pilot in the Army Air Corps, later known as the Air Force.   He trained to be a B-24 pilot in New Mexico and received specialized training in Nevada.   During a 10-day pass in January 1944, he made a fast train ride back home to marry Louise Leonard.

In June 1944, he was transferred to the 13th Air Force in the South Pacific.   Until April 1945, Phillip flew combat missions.   Maybe the most memorable flight for First Lieutenant Murray was the first mission to bomb a Japanese fuel depot in Balikpapan, Borneo (now part of Indonesia) where the Japanese were reported to get 90% of their gasoline.   In this mission there were 24 bombers.   This flight required 16 hours from their base to the target.   Since fighter planes could not carry enough fuel for a flight of this distance, the bombers had no fighter plane support.   Even though the bombers were carrying 3750 gallons of fuel, they did not have enough fuel for all of the return flight; therefore, they had to find a place to refuel. On the first day of the bombing raid, he was the second plane in the formation when the lead plane was shot down; and its crew bailed out.   His plane moved up to the lead position in the formation, and the photographer on their aircraft recorded the raid.   One of the most viewed photographs of WW II was taken out of his plane on this mission.   If you have the opportunity to visit the Air Force museum in Dayton, Ohio you will see the photo.   A copy of the same photograph is also on display in the Smithsonian Institute.

Phillip did not participate in the bombing raid on the second day, but on the third day he spotted the crew that had been shot down the first day floating in the ocean.   Even though it was against policy, Phillip called for a submarine to pick up the crew.   Fortunately, a submarine was able to rescue the entire crew that night.   On this first mission, they lost 13 of 24 bombers. Phillip, like all military persons in wars, sacrificed so much to keep their homeland safe.   One small example for Phillip is that he spent his first wedding anniversary flying a bombing mission while his wife was back home giving birth to their first child, Ann.

Phillip was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroic efforts; and after serving a couple of years in the reserves, received his discharge.   He returned to his farm in Spring Hope, North Carolina, where he grew tobacco, corn, soybeans and wheat.   The farm has been in the Murray family even before the Civil War.   His great-grandfather, Joseph Murray, served in the Confederate Army.

On November 6, 1945, Philip began his career with the Soil Conservation Service as a Conservation Aid in Nashville, North Carolina.   He was one of the first people in the state to be promoted to a GS-5 Soil Conservation Technician.   Mr. Murray retired in 1977, spending his entire career in Nash County.   He says he really enjoyed his work with SCS.   He made a lot of friends, and one of the most enjoyable parts of the job was helping farmers install erosion control practices on cropland.   His favorite thing was staking terraces.   After retiring in 1977, he expanded his farming operation and at one time was raising 75 acres of tobacco.   He eventually turned the farm over to his sons, Phill and Keith.   They still grow tobacco, wheat, and soybeans but chickens and swine are the main enterprises on the farm today.

Phillip and Louise had five children: Ann, Johnny, Martha, Phill and Keith.   In 1986 his wife died.   Phillip later remarried, and he and Anne live on the family farm in Spring Hope in the house that he built in 1952.


Sylvia S.


Sylvia S. Cyr supported the SCS operations in Nevada for over 21 years (1960 - 1981) as an Area Clerk, Secretary to the State Conservationist, and an Information Specialist.

She was born in Springfield, Vermont and lived in Woodstock, Vermont through high school graduation in 1942.   She was then employed by Wyman Gordon, Co. in Worcester, Massachusetts for 4 years as a Secretary.   Ms. Cyr joined her family in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1946, where she worked for the Springfield Ordnance District and attended American International College -- graduating with a business degree in 1955. In 1954, Ms. Cyr moved to Reno, Nevada; and she has lived there ever since.   Not one to let the dust settle on her shoes, she worked an additional 15 years for a CPA in Reno after retiring from SCS.   Ms. Cyr also served as the Nevada representative for ARSCSE from 1981 to 1985.

Ms. Cyr reports that she is “very fortunate to be in good health.”   She walks, does aquacises, attends Curves, and plays duplicate bridge.   She also enjoys helping her older friends with companionship, shopping, and care. She recalls her SCS days fondly, stating “I loved my years at SCS and got to tour and work every little town in Nevada.   As you know, there aren’t many.   Working with the few farmers and mostly ranchers was lots of fun.   They were down-to-earth people.”


John M.


Recently Jim Canterberry, North Carolina ARSCSE representative, had an opportunity to visit with Senior Conservationist John M. Jones about his work experience with the Soil Conservation Service (SCS).   Mr. Jones was the first African American Soil Conservationist hired in North Carolina.   He is now 93 years old and has been retired 35 years.   I think you’ll enjoy the following excerpts from Jim’s written report of his visit with the Mr. Jones.

John and Mattie Jones

Mr. Jones graduated from NC A&T State University in 1938 with a BS Degree in Agriculture.   He began working with the Soil Conservation Service in 1942 when the agency hired a few graduates from 1890 chartered schools to work primarily with black landowners.   Prior to working for SCS, Mr. Jones was a principal at Rocky Knoll School, a Rosenwald three-room school in Durham County, North Carolina.   He also taught 5th, 6th, and 7th grades.   Rosenwald Schools were made possible through the Julius Rosenwald Fund administered by Tuskegee Institute.   The Rosenwald rural school building program was a major effort to improve the quality of public education for African Americans in the South in the early 20th century.   About 5,000 Rosenwald Schools were built.

Mr. Jones left his principal’s job to work at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.   It was at Fort Bragg that he saw a notice on the bulletin board for a Soil Conservationist position with SCS.   He applied and remembers receiving a telegram from Washington asking that he go to the Regional Office in Spartanburg, South Carolina, for an interview.   Since he wanted to work in North Carolina, Mr. Jones sent a message to Mr. Earl Garrett, SCS State Conservationist, to see if he could get a job in North Carolina.

After an interview with Mr. Garrett, he was offered a job in Wadesboro, North Carolina, home of Hugh Hammond Bennett.   This was the Brown Creek Soil Conservation District, the first district organized in the nation.   Mr. Jones said he knew Chief Bennett and saw him several times at the Bennett home place when the Chief would be in town.   He said things were different when he started to work.   His office was not with the other field office staff.   Instead, he was housed with the black extension agent, and it was assumed that he would work only with black farmers.   His Work Unit Conservationist was Phil Robinson and the District Conservationist was Harvey Kelly.   He also worked two days a week in Richmond County.

Mr. Jones was drafted in 1943 and served in The Army Air Corps in World War II.   He attended graduate school at Michigan State University for one quarter after his military service, but he said he needed to return to work because of financial reasons.   During that quarter he earned two “A’s” and three “B’s”. After twenty years in Wadesboro, Mr. Jones was transferred to Whiteville, NC.   In 1967 he was transferred to Fayetteville where he retired in 1973 as a Soil Conservationist.   Mr. Jones received a certificate of merit in 1970 for high quality performance.   After retiring from SCS, he worked 12 years at Perkins Library at Duke University.

Mr. Jones and his wife of 67 years, Mattie, live in Bahama, North Carolina, on the farm where his father was a tobacco farmer.   They have a son and daughter and two grandchildren who live in Atlanta.   He has the distinction of living on John Jones Road, named for his father.   He can remember distinctly cutting wood with a crosscut saw and axe for the furnaces of the flu-cured tobacco barns.

Mr. Jones’ health is good and he is still very active.   Until two years ago, when he had knee surgery, he was playing golf three times a week.   He is a member of a volunteer agricultural advisory board.   He and his wife are active members of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church where his mother took him to church as a boy in a buggy drawn by a mule named Kate.


R. C. "Clyde"


North Carolina representative, Jim Canterberry, has provided yet another fantastic chronicle.   This one touches on the early history of the conservation movement and a conservation pioneer. Enjoy!

Senior Conservationist Clyde Pleasants will be 100 years old March 16, 2009.   He was born in Johnson County, North Carolina, where he was reared on a general farm.   His dad raised tobacco, cotton, corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hogs and sheep.   He remembers the family going to Bethel Baptist Church in a two-seat buggy pulled by one of the two mules they used on the farm.   In 1933, he was one of three students to graduate from NC State College (now University) with a Degree in Soils.

Mr. Pleasants began his conservation career with the Soil Erosion Service (SES) soon after graduation.   He began work in Newland, North Carolina, as a Soil Surveyor making a general soil survey of Avery County.   In 1934 he was transferred to the High Point Soil Erosion Demonstration Project, the first in North Carolina.   High Point was used as a training site for all of the new SES employees.   After a few months of training in High Point, he was transferred to Wadesboro, North Carolina, where he mapped soils in the Brown Creek Demonstration Project.   He said that he passed the Hugh Hammond Bennett’s home place almost every day on his way to map soils.   From Wadesboro he was sent to the Huntersville Demonstration Project in Mecklenburg County.   Four Civil Conservation Corps (CCC) Camps were assigned to this demonstration project.   His job was to provide a soil survey for the farms being planned.   Mr. Pleasants said, “Their motto was plan the farm and farm the plan”.

His next transfer took him to Forest City where he mapped soils in Rutherfordton County.   In 1941, he was transferred back to Wadesboro where he worked until 1945.   His last move was to the Raleigh Area office where he worked until his retirement in 1963. Mr. Pleasants said that mapping soils in those early days was much different than today.   In 1933, he used a plane table to make a soils map.   He said, “We did not get aerial photographs until 1934 when I was working in the High Point Demonstration Project.   This really made the job easier and provided a more usable map because of the photo background.”   The soil surveyor recorded on the map a symbol for the soil type, slope, the erosion classification and the present land use.

Mr. Pleasants has been retired 45 years and lives alone in the same house that he bought in 1945 when he moved to Raleigh.   After retirement, he kept busy for several years with the two farms he owned in Johnson County.   These farms are now housing developments.   He once told me there was more money in growing houses than in growing corn.   His wife Ruby of 68 years passed away five years ago.   He is still active and has a garden in his backyard.





Bob Quilliam is one of our newest Senior Conservationists, turning 83 years young in 2007.   Many of you have probably crossed paths with Bob during his 30 year career with SCS.

After spending three years in the Air Force in WWII and graduating from Perdue University in Engineering, he started his career in 1949 in his birth state, Indiana.   He progressed up the career ladder moving from a student trainee to a soil conservationist, district conservationist, and area conservationist, all in Indiana.   Bob transferred to Auburn, Alabama, as the Assistant State Conservationist for Watersheds in 1960.   In 1965, he became the Assistant for Operations in Alabama. Bob continued on his upward career path by serving as the State Conservationist in West Virginia (1967 - 1970).   He completed his successful career as the State Conservationist in Ohio (1970 - 1979).

Although it may seem that life was all about work, Bob, in fact, was married to Maxine for the entirety of his SCS career.   In June 2008, they’ll celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.   They are proud parents of a son and daughter and also have two grandsons. Bob enjoys very good health.   He and Maxine live in Lakeport, Florida, and are active in church and yard work.   He has taken 14 trips to South America, fishing for huge Peacock bass.   The picture below shows Bob holding his catch, a monster peacock, on the Amazon River, Brazil, South America.

Bob Quilliam with Amazonian Peacock Bass, Brazil


M. J. "Whitey"


M. J. "Whitey" Spears joined the ranks of Senior Conservationist in March of 2007.   He resides in Little Rock, Arkansas, with his wife, Amy.   Whitey has been the Arkansas State Representative for ARSCSE since its inception.   He‘ll be chairing his 23rd consecutive annual meeting of SCS/NRCS retirees in Arkansas in September 2008. What dedication!

Whitey’s career with SCS involved several moves and different job positions as he worked his way up the career ladder.   Many of you have probably worked with, or been acquainted with, Whitey.   A quick summary of his SCS career follows.

1949 – 1964, Soil Scientist, District Conservationist, Agronomist, Area Conservationist Texas (several locations)

1964 – 1970, Assistant State Conservationist, South Dakota

1970 – 1973, Deputy State Conservationist, Texas

1973 – 1981, State Conservationist, Arkansas

Since retirement in December 1980, Whitey has kept busy.   He managed 3 family estates as the executor, served on the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board for 1 ½ years, kept up with his yard work, and strengthened his relationships with family and friends.

Whitey humbly reports that he’s "doing fine." He still walks 18 holes of golf twice a week.   "If you’ve got your health, you’ve just about got everything," states Whitey; and I’m sure you all agree.


Harold C.


Harold C. Sturgill is representative of so many of our loyal, hard-working field employees. His career with SCS began in 1966 in Viroqua (Vernon County), Wisconsin.   He worked all of his years of service with SCS in the same community until his retirement in 1981.   He was a Conservation Technician, the backbone of the SCS field delivery system in those days.

Harold was an experienced man when he came to SCS.   Born in Ashland, West Virginia, he had already mined coal for 25 years in his home state.   He served a stint in the U.S. Army during World War II.   In addition, he owned the Washington Street Texaco Station in Bluefield, West Virginia, for about 5 years.   I understand that it was a predecessor to today’s convenience stores, something called “jot ‘em down store.”

He has lived a quiet life in Viroqua since retirement.   He was widowed about 15 years ago.   Harold loves to tell stories about his coal mining days in West Virginia.   He also has a great sense of humor and can discuss most any topic.   He listens to the radio about 90 percent of the time and TV the rest, preferring public radio, TV news programs, and religious shows.

At 89 years young, Harold’s health is good.   He has limited vision in one eye due to macular degeneration.   His other eye lost sight in the mid-1950s.   Not one to let a physical disability change who he is, he is ever positive on life and everything around him.   He even goes out for a short walk each night after dark settles in.   He claims he sees better at night.


Elias (Eli)


Elias (Eli) Bloom retired in December 1990, where he was the Head of the Engineering Design Staff in the Indiana State Office, Indianapolis, Indiana. Perhaps Eli’s lifelong desire to learn was ingrained during his youth in New York City, where he was born and raised.   After high school graduation, he ventured west for further education.   His formal education was interrupted by 33 months of active duty in the US Army, which included 17 months in Europe.   He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Engineering from Kansas State University in 1947.   He later pursued graduate studies at Iowa State University in structural design (1959-1960), and he earned a law degree in 1976 from Indiana University School of Law at Indianapolis.

His interesting and successful career with SCS was:

            1948-1959         Sioux City, Iowa            Field Survey Engineer; then Project Engineer

            1959-1960         Des Moines, Iowa          Design Engineer

            1960-1962         Milwaukee, Wisconsin    Structural Engineer

            1962-1990         Indianapolis, Indiana      Head, Engineering Design Staff

Eli returned to SCS as an Earth Team volunteer from 1990 to 1992.   Can you believe that he organized the Engineering Design files?!   He states that this was something that he wanted to get done while he was Head of the unit but never had enough time.

On the personal side, Eli has been married to Marilyn for over 60 years.   They continue to live in Indianapolis.   They have a son (living in Florida) and two daughters (one in Colorado and one in Ohio).   They also have three grandchildren and three great grandchildren.   All great grandchildren live in Alaska. Eli has been active and successful in a variety of areas outside of SCS.   For instance, he retired in 1983 from the US Naval Reserves as a Captain, Civil Engineer Corps, USNR, after 32 years of service.   He has received numerous awards from the State of Indiana, conservation organizations, and in 2005 from the Washington Township Fire Department.

He continues working in his office as a part-time attorney and provider of engineering and consulting services.   He reports that his health is generally good except for his eyes.   He has macular degeneration. And is unable to drive.   He is able to use special equipment that enlarges images.   He appreciates Marilyn’s assistance as his chauffeur and check writer.




Bob Dansdill, turned 90 years young on November 7, 2006.   He is looking forward to becoming an Honorary Member of ARSCSE when he becomes 91 years of age.   Bob started his career with SCS in 1938 and ended his successful federal career in 1979 as the Assistant State Soil Scientist for Colorado.

Bob was always a Soil Scientist for the agency and served in the Dust Bowl Region #6 Soil Survey in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.   He proudly recalls one of the highlights of his career was in 1978 when Mel Davis, SCS Chief presented him with the last of many of his Performance Awards.   In addition to his outstanding performance being awarded, he was presented numerous awards for his suggestions.

When Bob Dansdill celebrated his 90th birthday, he received over 80 cards and letters.   They brought back many memories from his school days, WW II Navy days, and his 41 years with SCS. Bob has a daughter, Pat, a son-in-law Gary Cottrell, and two grandsons, Brad and Perry. Bob enjoys excellent health, is an active member of the Colorado ARSCSE group, and drives himself everywhere in the city.   He enjoys gardening and reading in his spare time. If you’d like to drop Bob a note, his address is:   3548 So. Fundy Ct, Aurora, CO   80013.


Roy L.


Former Oregon State Conservation Engineer, Roy L. Fox, now 86, is a native of South Dakota (SD). Mr. Fox received a Civil Engineering degree from the SD School of Mines in 1943.   Thereafter, he spent three years as an officer in the Civil Engineer Corps, United States Navy.   After the war he spent a short time with the U S Bureau of Reclamation before transferring to USDA-SCS.

His 30-year career with SCS spanned from 1947 to 1977.   His career prior to becoming the State Conservation Engineer in 1964 included the following positions and locations:

Construction Engineer, Mirage Flats, Nebraska

Acting Project Engineer, Buffalo Rapids, Montana

Project Engineer, Eden Valley, Wyoming

Engineering Specialist, Western Oregon

USDA Party Leader, Oregon Rivers Basin Survey

Ass’t State Conservation Engineer, Oregon

USDA Party Leader, Willamette River Basin Survey

Mr. Fox states that during his career he was privileged to work with many great people on a number of interesting and worthwhile projects.   Two of his fondest memories are having worked for Dwight S. McVicker in both the Navy and SCS and his good fortune to have had Jack Phelan as a trainer and boss on his first SCS job in Hay Springs, Nebraska.   He believes that his most important assignment with SCS was serving on the committee that formulated and guided the preparation of the SCS National Engineering Field manual. During retirement, Mr. Fox continues to enjoy fly fishing, amateur radio operations, and working with computers.   He lives in Salem, Oregon.   He has one son, three daughters, nine grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.


Walter Calvin


Walter Calvin Menear may be the one and only retired Auto Mechanic in the honorable ranks of the 400-plus Senior Conservationists.   He was formerly trained at the University of Oklahoma’s Technical Center, in Norman, Oklahoma. Walter was the SCS Auto Mechanic for all of the SCS vehicles in West Virginia.   Many of our younger retirees and current NRCS employees may not be aware that such a position existed many years ago.   Shortly after Walter retired in 1978, the vehicle maintenance work was performed by non-federal workers through the federal procurement process. I understand that the Auto Mechanics like Walter were welcomed by employees and that they were really appreciated for the help they gave.   Thank you, Walter, for supporting the conservation work that needed to be performed!

After retirement, Walter kept himself busy with wood working, teaching defensive driving, and gardening.   He also loved going to flea markets.   He has two daughters, three granddaughters, and nine great grandchildren. Geraldine Menear, Walter’s wife, reports that Walter is not in very good physical health these days; however, he’d love to hear from you.   If you’d like to drop Walter a note or a card, his address is Guardian Care Nursing Home, PO Box 430, Kenansville, NC 28349.   Geraldine recently broke her hip.   She is recovering at Guardian Care where she is able to keep close watch on Walter.


George J.


I continue to be honored to bring you just a small sample of the lives of our many Senior Conservationists. George J. Newberger was awarded the ARCSE 2006 President’s Award for Outstanding Community Service.   His life activities reflect a commitment to family, agriculture, conservation, and community.

George has spent most of his life in his birth state, Ohio.   However, while serving in the Army Air Corps in Moorhead, MN, in 1943, he met his spouse, Helen.   He and Helen also lived in North Dakota for a few years (1950-1952) while he taught institutional on-farm training with a group of ex-GIs. Before starting his SCS career in 1954, George received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture from Ohio State University.   He also spent 4 years in his home county of Portage, Ohio, as a dairy farmer.

During his 28 years with SCS in Ohio, George worked as a Soil Conservationist in Portage and Trumbull Counties.   He then worked as a District Conservationist in Geauga, Wyandot, and Ross Counties. George and Helen, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in September 2007. George‘s sister and her husband co-celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary at the same time.   It was a great renewal for family and friends!

George and Helen Newberger

George says that he keeps healthy by doing his own lawn and garden care plus golfing.   It seems to me that he has been pretty busy with a few other things.   He does woodworking in the field of Shaker design.   He currently specializes in Shaker oval boxes, trays, and carriers.   George has been active in the Dahlia Society of Ohio.   He even put his woodworking skills to use by making 35 award plaques for the American Dahlia Society Annual Show that was held in Ohio in 2003.   George has also been active in the Ohio Bluebird Society as a trustee and coordinator.   He maintains a 35-box Bluebird trail and fledged 75 Bluebirds in 2006.


Elmer M.


Elmer M. Bittner of Mesa, Arizona, is our featured Senior Conservationist.   He was born in Munich, North Dakota.   He farmed prior to joining SCS in 1949.   He put in his years of service with SCS in North Dakota, retiring in 1979, while working as an Engineering Technician in Grafton, North Dakota. He joined SCS as a Conservation Technician.   He continued in that capacity until June 1965 (16 years).   He then converted to the Engineering Technician field, working on watershed projects until his retirement (another 14 years).

After retirement from SCS, Elmer worked for 10 years in the insurance industry.   Most recently, he worked for 10 years in the car rental business. When he has time, Elmer enjoys working with stained glass and volunteering with St. Mary Magdalene Church. He is most proud of his 59 plus years of marriage to DeLoris, their 5 children, 5 grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren.

The Chronicler noted that Elmer has a meaningful email address.   It reflects the pride Elmer must feel for 30 years of conservation and engineering technician service with SCS.   It is “”




Former State Conservationist, Robert (Bob) Hilliard, now 83, is our featured Senior Conservationist.   His 33-year career with SCS spanned from 1947 to 1980.   His career path included the following positions and locations:

Engineering Aid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hillsboro, Ohio

Soil Conservationist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Wooster, Ohio

District Conservationist . . . . . . . . . . . .Mansfield, Ohio

Area Conservationist . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Albany, Ohio

Assistant State Conservationist . . . . . Madison, Wisconsin

State Conservationist . . . . . . . . . . . . . Storrs, Connecticut

State Conservationist . . . . . . . . . . . . . Syracuse, New York

Many of you have probably crossed paths with Bob and/or his wife of 55 years, Peg.   Unfortunately, lung cancer claimed Peg in 2001.

Some of you have shared with me a few stories about Bob.   For this newsletter; however, I’ll only share a story that Bob shared with me on his application to become a Senior Conservationist.   Bob was a new Soil Conservationist in Wooster, Ohio, when the Chief, H.H. Bennett himself, stopped into the local SCS office prior to speaking at a World Plowing contest and farm make-over event.   Bob heard the Chief ask if there were any brick streets in Wooster.   The Chief said that he had a collection of bricks from many cities and towns.   Bob volunteered to look for a brick on the street where he lived to try and find one that was stamped with the city name.   The next morning, Bob presented the Chief with a new brick for his collection.   The Chief was pleased and asked for his name.   Bob states, “Boy, did I ever feel that I belonged to SCS.”

As to Bob’s current activities, he states that they are not too complex.   He tries to maintain his house and yard, enjoy the grandkids, travel to Alaska and the outer Banks, winter on the Gulf coast in Texas, and enjoy his full-time girl friend.   He enjoys reading the ARSCSE newsletter and appreciates the many volunteers who make it wonderful reading material.


Kenneth G.


Kenneth G. McManus, now 84, is our featured Senior Conservationist.   Kenneth ended his successful federal career in 1981 as the State Conservationist in Columbia, Missouri.

Prior to working in Missouri, Kenneth was busy working his way up the SCS career ladder in several different jobs and locations.   He began his career in Michigan after working as an Agricultural Teacher in Almont, Michigan.   The jobs he performed for SCS in Michigan included District Conservationist, Area Conservationist, State Resource Conservationist, and Assistant State Conservationist.   He then relocated to Iowa as the Deputy State Conservationist.   Moving yet again, he worked as the Assistant Director at the South Technical Service Center in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Kenneth and his wife, Lois moved to Sun City West, an Arizona retirement community, after retiring from SCS.   They stayed busy, including traveling the USA.   He and Lois celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1992 with a trip to England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.   He golfs, reads, and serves on the golf committee for the Sun City West Recreation Center. Kenneth reports that his health is good.   Unfortunately, his spouse, Lois passed away November 17, 2005.   He devoted six years to taking care of her.   He has one son, one daughter, and 3 grandchildren. If you’d like to drop Kenneth a note, his email address is


James E.


James E. Schwoegler of Verona, Wisconsin, is our featured Senior Conservationist.   He retired in 1980 with over 30 years of federal service. James served for 33 months in the military during World War II, including being on 21 missions over Japan as a radio operator on a B-29 Superfort.   Also of interest is that he participated in a mass flyover in August, 1945, when the peace treaty was being signed on the Battleship Missouri.

His career with SCS began as a trainee in Baraboo, WI, in 1948.   He graduated from the University of WI in 1949 with a BS in Agriculture.   He continued working his way up the traditional conservationist career ladder, moving to different jobs in different cities in WI.   He held his initial DC position in 1957 and his first AC position in 1967.   He ended his SCS career as the AC in Madison, WI.

After retirement from SCS, James worked for 10 years as the Head of Maintenance, Laundry, and Housekeeping at a nursing home in Verona, WI.   He was also the Director of the Verona Senior Center for 5 years.   When he has the time, he enjoys repairing broken ceramics as a hobby.

James has been married to Shirley since 1948.   They have 1 son, 6 daughters, and 12 grandchildren.   He describes his health as “fair to middling.”


Mary Alice


Mary Alice Yelverton, retired from civil service in 1951. She had worked for the U.S. Air Force and then as an Accounting Clerk at the SCS Regional Office, Ft. Worth, Texas. Unlike most members of ARSCSE, Mary Alice was a youthful 30 years of age when she left civil service. She has had over 50 years since then in which to be involved in life activities.

The now 84 year old has led an active, family and community-oriented life, like so many SCS/ NRCS retirees. Read on to learn about just a few of her talents and accomplishments.

Mary Alice married Carl in 1954 and stayed that way for over 47 years until Carl past away in September 2001. They raised two children in Boerne (Kendall County), Texas. They are now adults living in Texas with their own families. Mary Alice and Carl were very active in their children’s activities during their school years - room mother, scout leaders, coaches of baseball teams, and field trip chaperones.

Mary Alice and her daughter won the first mother/daughter tennis tournament at Fair Oaks Ranch Golf and Country Club. Mary Alice also won many blue ribbons and Best of Show awards for her prized homemade pickles and preserves at the Kendall County Fair. She has been entertaining readers of The Boerne Star newspaper for over two decades. Her column, Mary Alice’s Potpourri, is a collection of miscellaneous news and feature items that are of interest to area residents. The newspaper claims that their readership continues to grow, much as a result of Mary Alice’s charming columns.

Finally, Mary Alice has had a lifelong interest in stars and celebrities. She has met with or corresponded with Cheryl Ladd, Alice Faye, William Holden, Ben Hogan, Katherine Hepburn, and many others. She shares her interactions with the stars and celebrities as part of her newspaper columns. Mary Alice is in very good health and states that “life is good.”


Dewey T.


Dewey T. Bondurant, retired from his job as Iowa’s State Conservation Engineer, in 1980.   During his 30-plus years of service, he worked throughout the State of Iowa, ending his federal career in Des Moines. Mr. Bondurant also served 5 years of military service with the U.S. Army from 1940 - 1945. He touched many lives during his successful 35 years of federal service. He chose to work as an Income Tax Preparer for H & R Block for about 12 years after leaving federal service. During that period, he was honored by the Internal Revenue Service with the title of Enrolled Agent.

Mr. Bondurant was widowed in 1997, when his spouse of 48 years, M. Georgia Slavik, died. They were blessed with 2 sons and 1 daughter. His family has been expanded with 4 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. He continues to reside in Des Moines, where he retired. He enjoys gardening, a weekly line-dance session with a senior citizen group, and preserving jams and jellies. Mr. Bondurant has exhibited his preserves at the Iowa State Fair and won numerous ribbons.

In Mr. Bondurant’s application for Senior Conservationist status, he admitted being in “good health but a little over weight.” Most Americans can relate to the weight problem; however, not many of us know how to preserve award-winning jams and jellies. Keep up the good work, Mr. Bondurant!




George Borst, retired Soil Scientist, served USDA for over 31 years, primarily in the State of California. The widower resides in Fallbrook, California, and is the father of two sons and one daughter.   He is now 93 years of age. Between 1936 and 1942, George worked as a soil surveyor and soil technologist with USDA.   He was attached to mobile survey parties in North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Texas, and Arkansas.

A few of George’s professional experiences since retirement include:

  •   Party leader or advisor for soil surveys for Western Ecological Services Company, San Rafael, California.

  •   Party leader for H. Ismaili Associates, Berkeley, California.

  •   Party leader for Woodward-Clyde Consultants.

Since retiring in 1969, George has been active in many professional organizations.   He also has authored or co-authored over 25 publications. His work has primarily supported California’s agricultural industry, especially the avocado industry. George reports that his health is “reasonably good but with impaired vision.”   He continues to enjoy classical music.


Kenneth E.


Kenneth E. Brost, former Contract Specialist, SCS, Wisconsin State Office, was just added to the distinguished list of Senior Conservationists in May 2005.   At 87 years young, he has led an interesting life.   He has been sharing his life with wife, Jean, since 1946.   They have 1 son, 3 daughters, 12 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren.

Prior to his civilian federal career, Mr. Brost served a tour in the U.S. Navy (1942-1946).   He also worked as a claims adjusters, manager, and agency director for State Farm Insurance Company (1952-1964). He began his career with SCS in 1966. Mr. Brost retired from SCS in 1979.   He dusted off the J.D. he earned from the University of Wisconsin in 1952 and began doing legal work in real estate management.   He continued doing so until 2000. His excellent health permits Mr. Brost to perform volunteer work at church and with AARP in tax aid for the elderly.   He also enjoys golfing, swimming, travel, ice skating, gardening, and reading.


Lillie W.


Prior to becoming a federal employee, Lillie W. Dittfurth was the office manager for her family’s dairy facility, Pilot Knob Dairy Farm, in Putnam County, Tennessee.   Her federal work experience included working for the U.S. Coast Guard in Washington, D.C. during WWII and then for SCS and ASCS in Tennessee.   She specialized in secretarial work at the Cookeville Area Office and the SCS and ASCS Tennessee State Offices in Nashville.

Prior to marrying Alvin (Buck) Dittfurth, she was married to Earl Burgess for 30 years, until his passing.   Married to Buck since 1979, he is also a retired SCS employee.   They now reside in Athens, Texas. After retirement from the federal government, Ms. Dittfurth became an office manager at Music Country Realty (1982 - 1990), Brentwood, Tennessee.   The realtors were all retired SCS employees - Donald C. Bivens, Billy Headden, and John A. Walker.

Do you get the feeling that Ms. Dittfurth gets along real swell with retired SCS employees?!   She also volunteers with her church, works on crafts and gardening, and participates in Beta Sigma Phi Sorority activities.


Rodney V.


Rodney V. Hayden, retired District Conservationist, was employed by SCS for about 20 years, all in the State of Ohio.   After his initial 3 years with SCS (1952 - 1955), he took an eleven-year break to do what he really wanted to do - farm. After retirement in 1982, he again had the opportunity to farm, this time as a tree farmer. Rodney and his wife, Marie, enjoy life on the farm in Howard, Ohio. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2004; and Rodney states, “It has been a wonderful marriage. We get along well.”

Until 1996, they operated the 100-acre Christmas tree operation in partnership with their son and daughter-in-law. Their son and daughter-in-law now own and operate the tree farm. There is still plenty of work for Rodney -- about 5 acres of mowing to complete during the summer months and maintaining their farm home (located on the tree farm). Rodney humbly states that “SCS made my life richer by adding greatly to my experiences. I had a lot of help along the way.”


Martin G.


Martin G. Ziebell, 84, retired as District Conservationist, Stillwater, Minnesota in 1983. His SCS career began as an SCS trainee and Soil Scientist in New York -- Plattsburg and then Lowville.   He continued in his career as a Soil Conservationist in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Besides working for SCS, Martin also worked as a meat cutter, salesman, and military serviceman.   He served in World War II in India, Burma, and China. After retirement Martin has had more time to serve as a church elder.   His hobbies include photography, travel, gardening, and attending music concerts.

In 1999, he and wife, Gertrude, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.   They have three daughters and three grandchildren.   He reports that his health is “okay for my age.”


Albert Francis


Albert Francis Bahr just-turned 90 years old.   He retired from SCS as a Soil Correlator in Bismarck, North Dakota, in 1973.   During his SCS career, Mr. Bahr also held positions as soil scientist, party leader, survey supervisor, and assistant state soil scientist. Mr. Bahr and his spouse, Louie Jean Miner, have been married for over 50 years.   They live in Orem, Utah.   They have 6 children, 60 grandchildren, and 64 grandchildren.   His interest in family history led to him serving as a guide-supervisor in the family history (genealogy) library in Salt Lake City, Utah.   He serves as a consultant to The Thomas Minor Society and The Albert A. Bahr family organizations.

In Mr. and Mrs. Bahr’s opinion, “there is not a greater reward than to see someone progress and succeed.”   Their accomplishments support this philosophy.   For instance, he has served as a leader of 2 Boy Scout National Jamboree events.   He and Mrs. Bahr served 2 eighteen-month service missions for their church.   One was in Maine and New Hampshire.   The other mission site was in Eagle Pass, Texas.   They were able to organize a Boy Scout troop.   At least 5 Eagle Scouts resulted from their efforts.   Four of the 5 have now graduated from college.


John D.


Senior Conservationist John D. Bolton, 86, recently provided me with an interesting chronicle of his life.   He admitted having to comb through a lot of old files to dig out the dates and information.   Although he apologized for the “old fingers” writing, I found his printing to be neat and easy to read.

Mr. Bolton was born, and lived nearly most of his life, in Georgia.   He entered the US Air Corps (later renamed the US Air Force) in 1942 and then joined the Air Force Reserve at the end of WWII.   Serving in World War II (WWII) and the Korean War took him to far away places like the China-Burma-India theater.   He earned much recognition during his years of service to USA.

He remembers helping his dad on the family farm and having been an enrollee in the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 before becoming a conservation aide with the Soil Erosion Service in 1939.   After the wars, Mr. Bolton worked for Soil Conservation Service and went to college until he earned his BSA degree from the University of Georgia. After a fine 30-year federal career, he retired in 1975.   Retired probably isn’t a good word for his busy life.   He still operates a large diesel tractor and a smaller Ford 8H tractor, mostly maintaining pastures.   He works a large vegetable garden and shares the bounty with others.

Mr. Bolton’s praise of retired SCS employees and their spouses is extreme.   In his own words, “I just think SCS is the greatest!   I have nothing but gratitude for all of the wonderful men and women of several racial backgrounds.   Most enjoyable are the quarterly retiree meetings at restaurants.”


Hurshel E.


Hurshel E. Boyd lives in a heavenly-sounding community called Messiah Village in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.   He was born near Seneca, New Mexico, in 1920 to a farming family; however, his family moved to Kansas when he was just a few months old after a hailstorm completely destroyed his dad’s crops.His higher education at Kansas State College was interrupted by his enlistment in the US Army Air Corps (1942 - 1946). Upon returning to civilian life, he worked part-time as a Conservation Aid in Lyons, Kansas, until he re-entered school at Kansas State (K-State) in Manhattan, Kansas. Mr. Boyd graduated from K-State in 1948 and began full-time employment with SCS as a Farm Planner. He became a District Conservationist a year later in Hiawatha, Kansas.

His career took him to Washington, D.C., in 1956, to the Watershed-Program Management Section. In 1959 he transferred to Oklahoma as an Area Conservationist. That was followed by his final assignment in 1963 to the Assistant State Conservationist for Operations and Management position in Pennsylvania. He retired from that job in 1977, with a total of 33 years and 5 months of military and civilian service. Mr. Boyd and his spouse, Rosann, have been married for over 56 years. They have 4 children, 4 grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren. They’re busy in retirement with many church activities; cruises to places like Alaska, the Mediterranean, the Panama Canal, and the Caribbean; and a trip to China.


Ray R.


Like so many of our senior conservationists, Ray R. Huxtable, enjoys reading about old friends. He hopes that some of those old friends might be interested in reading about him. So, a little information about Mr. Huxtable follows.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from South Dakota State University in 1942. He married Nelvyna in January 1943. About the time the newsletter hits your mail box, they will be celebrating another wedding anniversary. The early years of Mr. Huxtable’s career with SCS (1942 - 1967) were spent in various parts of South Dakota. Utilizing his engineering knowledge and leadership skills, he worked on watershed and river basin planning activities. He then moved to Reno, Nevada, in 1967, and became an Assistant State Conservationist. He retired in 1976, continuing to reside in Henderson, Nevada.

Besides his career with Department of Agriculture, Mr. Huxtable invested several years with the Army. He served 4 years on active duty and 18 years in the National Guard. He has been a faithful supporter of SWCS, having been Chapter presidents in both South Dakota and Nevada. He also has chaired the Chapter of NARFE in Reno. At the conclusion of his career with SCS, Mr. Huxtable served on the Washee-Story Conservation District Board (1977-1995). He was the Chairman of the Board for 9 of those years.

As you can see by the above accomplishments, Mr. Huxtable is a respectable member of the Senior Conservationist group.


John Maynard


John Maynard Jones retired in 1973.   He began his career with Soil Conservation Service (SCS) in 1942 in North Carolina.   Mr. Jones worked as a soil conservationist in North Carolina during his career.   He did have a two and one-half year break in service to serve in the Air Force from 1943 to 1945. Prior to starting his career with SCS, Mr. Jones attended A&T State University in North Carolina.   After graduating in 1938, he worked as a teacher and principal at an elementary school in North Carolina. Mr. Jones married Mattie in 1941.   They had a son and daughter and now 2 grand children.   Mattie and Mr. Jones celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2001.

After retiring from SCS, Mr. Jones worked in the Library Circulation Department at Duke University.   That employment covered a 12-year period.   Somehow he managed to make time for golf and gardening, his hobbies.   These activities continued after his final work retirement from Duke University in 1986. His health is reportedly good.   With nearly 90 years under his belt, Mr. Jones has experienced a full, interesting life.   We thank him for sharing part of it with us.





Frank Ferentchak, along with his wife of over 40 years, Elaine, spend their summers in Diamondville, Wyoming, and their winters in Mesa, Arizona.   He describes his health as “probably good for my age.”   His hobbies and activities include gun smithing, hunting, building log cabins from scratch, plus playing tennis and sometimes golf.

Frank’s career with SCS (1952-1976) included being an area engineer in western Wyoming and holding many leadership positions in Montana (watershed planning engineer, irrigation and drainage engineer, river basin and watershed staff leader, and assistant for water resources).   In 1963 and 1964, Frank made two trips to Venezuela as an irrigation and drainage consultant to the Director of Public Works.   He served as a consultant on several large irrigation and drainage projects greater than 200,000 acres.   In his “spare time at night,” he prepared an irrigation handbook in metric.   The locals received Brazil’s 1965 Society of Agricultural Engineering award of the year with the help of the irrigation handbook.

The “overseas bug” must have bitten Frank.   After retirement from federal service, he applied his irrigation engineering skills on several overseas’ consulting projects.   From 1976 - 1979, he served as a consultant to the Ministry of Swaziland.   In 1980 -1982, he provided irrigation and drainage services in Guyana.   He again consulted on large projects in Swaziland from 1982 - 1983.   In 1985, he worked on projects in Pakistan.   The impact of his labors has been immense - improved water management and healthier people around the world.


Leland H.


Leland H. Gile earned a Teaching Certificate before serving in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II.   About a year later, in 1946, he began working for the Soil Conservation Service as a Conservation Aid in his birth state, Maine. Leland took a break from the Soil Conservation Service to seek higher education in agronomy at the University of Maine and in soils at the University of Wisconsin.   He also worked at Cornell University, instructing students in mapping soils and making soil profile descriptions.   These experiences groomed him for his lifelong interest in the soil science field.

The Soil Conservation Service was fortunate to have Leland return in 1955, and he continued that employment until he retired in Ft. Worth, Texas, in 1976.   He is highly regarded in academia, has become a distinguished international researcher and author in the soil science field, and is a member of multiple professional societies in his field of expertise. One of his recent accomplishments has been as an Earth Team Volunteer.   A volunteer since 1987, he received the 2001 West Regional Earth Team Volunteer Award for his support of the conservation movement. Leland has resided in Las Cruces, New Mexico, since retirement.   In good health, he continues reading, writing, and studying soils and soil-geomorphology.


Mark B.


Mark B. Huntley, retired District Conservationist, served SCS in the State of Iowa for over 35 years.   His work as a District Conservationist started when the Conservation District was formed in Guthrie Center.   From there he moved to Mason City as the District Conservationist and later in Garner.   When the request came for him to transfer to Iowa Falls, he decided to retire.

World War II intervened early in his career, with Mark becoming a trained cryptographer.   He notes, however, that he actually spent more time working on construction projects in New Guinea and the Philippines.

Mark remembers back to his CCC days in Centerville, Iowa, in 1935.   His crews built several dams and permanent structures and planted trees.   When he returned to several of the CCC projects in the early 1990’s, all of the permanent structures were still functioning but many of the plantings had not been maintained. He has resided in Colorado for the last 8 years, wanting to be close to family members.   His wife, Doris, passed away in 1985.   Mark will be 97 years of age in October, and is in good health.


Richard M.


Richard M. Matthews, along with his wife of 57 years, Milly, have touched many lives.   They are both decorated veterans of World War II - Milly in the Navy and Richard in the Army Air Force. Perhaps their greatest joint accomplishments are linked to their four children, all adopted.   Richard and Milly now live in Vancouver, Washington.   Their children live in Alabama, South Carolina, and Texas.   Their family has grown with the addition of 5 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.

Richard began his career with SCS in 1951 as a civil engineer trainee in the regional office in Lincoln, Nebraska.   He successfully progressed in his career at the following locations - Beltsville, Maryland; Spartanburg, South Carolina; Auburn, Alabama, Fort Worth, Texas, and finally Portland, Oregon.   He retired in 1980 from the West Technical Service Center as the Regional Design Engineer and Head of the Design Section. After retirement from federal service, Richard devoted his time “to the home front,” in his words.   Travel and spectator sports are also enjoyed.   He is in excellent health, and Milly is doing well with a second battle with cancer.




George Paul retired in 1976 with over 32 years of service and numerous awards and citations.   He worked as a Soil Conservation Technician in various Soil Conservation Districts throughout North Dakota.   Born in St. Anthony, North Dakota; he now resides in Linton, North Dakota, in good health. After retirement from federal service, George drove school buses in his hometown.   He completed this service in 1990.

George has supported many organizations and communities throughout his life.   For instance, he has been a church usher for many years at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church and others parishes.   He is a Charter Life member of the Catholic Order of Knights of Columbus.   He has been a continuous member of the American Legion for over 57 years.   He is a past Post Commander of the American Legion in Linton.   He also served as Post Adjutant and Chaplain of the Dan R. Richardson Post #54. He and wife, Frances, are proud parents of 2 sons and 2 daughters; grandparents to 10; and great grandparents to 3.   We applaud their accomplishments in their 59+ years of marriage!


Gilbert A.


Gilbert A. Schultz, 85, retired as State Administrative Officer (SAO), St. Paul, Minnesota.   Gilbert was the SAO for Soil Conservation Service (SCS) in Minnesota for 10 years before retiring in 1974. His federal government career began on November 6, 1936, with USDA’s Bureau of Agricultural Engineering, which was absorbed by SCS in 1939.   At some point, he also put in 30 days with the Civilian Conservation Corps.   He took a detour from SCS in 1956-1959 to work for Atomic Energy.

SAO’s touch many lives during their careers due to their administrative management responsibilities.   Gilbert was no exception.   Besides his routine accomplishments; however, he had one unique career accomplishment that needs mentioning.   He negotiated the first modern-day union contract in USDA history. After retirement, Gilbert served for 9 years (1977-1986) as the treasurer or assistant treasurer for his church and school.   He traveled and volunteered quite a bit, but he now admits to “mostly loafing.”   During our last communication with Gilbert, he stated that he had been married to Helen for over 50 years and that they had 1 daughter and 2 grandchildren.


John K.


John K. Burgher’s career as an Engineering Technician with Soil Conservation Service began in Quincy, Illinois in 1956 and ended with retirement in 1975 in Lincoln, Illinois.   All of his service time was completed in Illinois, his current state of residence.

Prior to John’s federal career, he worked several years as a Morse Telegraph Operator with Western Union.   After returning from the military service, he was hired by Standard Oil Pipeline as a telegraph operator.

John enjoyed his federal career and recalls working with several fine employees in Illinois, including Joe Haas and Neil Bogner, just to name a few.   He lives alone now (since the passing of his spouse 2 years ago), and appreciates old SCS friends when they come to visit.

This 91-year-old conservation statesman shared a few bureaucratic statements that he says he heard many times while an SCS employee.   “Are you working out of your classification?” “Will you move for an increase in pay?”




This Elder Statesman was once referred to as “the dam repairman.”   Ray Cope, age 85, retired from the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) in May, 1987, while serving as a National Grouting Specialist stationed in the Emergency Watershed Program, Lincoln, Nebraska.   His 15 years with SCS included a year at the New York State Office and 10 years with Conservation Engineering supporting work on dams and tunnels in Canada.

Ray is a veteran of World War II, having served at Stalingrad and Normandy with the German Army. After retirement, Ray returned to work as a consulting engineer, specializing in dams.   His wife, Gabriele, died in 2000.   He has 3 sons and 3 grandchildren.   Ray continues to reside in Lincoln.


Thomas E.


On September 12, 1935, Thomas E. Doughty, was appointed as Wyoming’s first SEC/SCS employee.   He developed the first land ownership map of Wyoming including identifying designated land use problem areas.   The distinguished Conservation Statesman, now age 90, is honored in a publication celebrating 50 years of conservation in Wyoming.

After nearly 30 years of service in Wyoming, Tom retired in 1964.   He then resided in Spokane, Washington.   His wife of 63 years, Maxine Weick, passed in 1996.   In 2001, Tom moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, to be closer to his family.   Tom has 3 sons, 1 daughter, and many grand and great grandchildren.   He even has 1 great great grandchild.   He remains interested in horticulture and is an active gardener.


John D.


John D. Freeman, retired Soil Conservationist, served SCS in the State of Arizona for over 35 years.   He has resided in Prescott, Arizona, since retirement, with his wife, Norita.   They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2000.   He is now 90 years of age.

A few of John’s honors include:

· 1956 - President, Society of Range Management

· 1969 - Honored by Vietnamese government

· 1983 - Recognized by Arizona Cattle Growers

· 1990 - Building named in his honor (Yarapa County Fairgrounds)

· 2002 - Danny Freeman Day named by Prescott, AZ Kiwanis


Charles H.


Charles H. Innis retired in June 1972, in Tiffin, Ohio, where he currently resides at Ruffing Family Care Center.   He just celebrated his 90th birthday in September 2002. “Charlie” was in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), working in Ohio and Yellowstone National Park (1931-1940).   He served in the U.S. Army (1940-1946), including World War II in an Engineer Pipeline Company in North Africa, Italy, and France.   As a soil scientist with SCS, he worked in Jackson and Tiffin, Ohio.

He was a talented musician and played the banjo in a small band in Jackson, Ohio.   In addition, he was an avid “ rock hound.”   Another interesting tidbit is that Charlie donated a fossilized peccary (pig) skeleton to Bowling Green State University.   Charlie is a past member (Fellow) of the Ohio Academy of Sciences.


Manford (Manny) A.


Eighty-six year-old Manford (Manny) A. Logan calls Mt. Vernon, Illinois, home; however, he says that he winters about 6 months of the year in Winter Haven, Florida.   He shares his life with companion Louise Bean, a son (doctoring in Denver, CO), a daughter (teaching in Galesburg, IL), and a grandson (teaching at University of Texas, Austin, TX).

Manny retired from Soil Conservation Service in 1974, after having worked as a District Conservationist in Ford and Iroquois Counties, Illinois.   He then worked for Cooperative Extension Service for 3 years.   As a field inspector for Certified Seed Growers, he worked in 5 counties for the Illinois Crop Improvement Association.

Manny has a riddle for you -- What does Smokey the Bear, Attila the Hun, and Alexander the Great have in common?


John N. (Jack)


John N. (Jack) Selby retired in 1994 with over 50 years of service.   There was a big shindig at the Elk’s Club in Accomac, VA to celebrate the occasion.   It has been said that Jack touched just about everyone on the Eastern Shore in some way or another.

After graduating from VA Polytechnic Institute in 1942, he worked with the U.S. Corps of Engineers for a year.   His career with U.S.D.A. began in 1943.   He worked as a soil and water conservationist from 1943 - 1977.   As a Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Coordinator between 1977 and his retirement, his name was more recognizable than the program he coordinated. Jack belongs to many organizations including being a master mason (over 50 years), a member of the RC&D Council, a retired member (22 years) of the VA National Guard, and a member of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (over 51 years).

When last we heard, Jack was considering moving from his home in Onancock, VA, to the United Methodist Hermitage Home on the Eastern Shore.   His wife of 60 years, Lee, was a resident in the Nursing Wing.   He was going to be living on the Resident Wing.


J. Ivan


One of our senior-most Elder Conservation Statesmen, J. Ivan Fredregill, retired from Soil Conservation Service in 1965 in Adel, Iowa.   He was a Soil Conservationist during his career.   In 1965, he also retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the U.S. Army. He has been married to Ruth since 1933.   Together they have celebrated many wedding anniversaries, birthdays, and the birth of 5 children.

At nearly 97 years of age, his health is moderately good but he no longer travels or visits farm shows.   He does work in his yard and shop and attends church and community activities.   As one of his granddaughters says, “He taught us how to live by his fine example.”


Helen M.


Helen M. Virag retired in June 1972, in Portland, Oregon, where she currently resides.   Helen supported the Soil Conservation Service for over 35 years as a Secretary, touching many lives in many places along the way.   She worked in the following cities in Michigan - Grand Haven, Grand Rapids, Howell, and Battle Creek.   She also worked in Dayton, Ohio, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.   Her final transfer took her to Portland.

Helen celebrated her 92nd birthday this year and describes herself as being in good health.   She participates in swim and exercise classes and politics.   She is a member of Northwest Pilot Project that is a local organization that finds housing, jobs, and supplies for low-income families.   The Project also provides a free lunch and program once a month for its clients.




Leonard Watts, former Conservation Technician with Soil Conservation Service, currently resides in Leesburg, Ohio.   During his years of employment (1954 - 1983), Leonard worked in several counties in Ohio, finishing his career in Fayette County, with 29 years of service.

He is a life member of National Association of Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) and describes his health as “Let’s just say I’m still going!”   Leonard has been married to Edna for 62 years.   They have 1 son, 2 grandsons, and 3 great grandchildren.

Leonard not only keeps busy with the operation of his 100-acre home farm, but he plays a saxophone in a Senior Citizen Center band and in a 70-piece Washington County Community Band.

At age 92, I’d say that Leonard is doing more than “just going!”




Once again, our very own Sam Bacon, Senior Conservationist, deserves our recognition.   He has been highlighted in previous newsletters (1994 and 2002).

Sam turned 102 on July 1, 2002.   He was honored with a luncheon given by the Cumberland Art Society.   According to the Herald-Citizen, “Approximately 60 people attended and were able to greet the active, alert and witty Mr. Sam, who doesn’t like to talk about himself unless it’s in regard to planning his next birthday party or about the five-mile walk he just completed for a fund-raising event.” Through his donation of time and money, Sam has made a significant impact on the arts and politics in the Cookeville area.   We also understand that Sam still delivers meals-on-wheels three days a week.   Happy belated birthday, Sam!

With the permission of Jill Thomas, writer for the Herald-Citizen, Cookeville, Tennessee, we are reprinting the story that she recently wrote about Sam Bacon. It follows.

“Cookeville's Sam Bacon is 105.” Jill Thomas, Herald-Citizen Staff

When Cookevillian Sam Bacon was born, William McKinley was President of the United States. In Germany, the first zeppelin was launched and in South Carolina William and Orville Wright were experimenting with gliders. Seven cities in the US had just come together to form the American Association of Baseball Clubs -- later known as the American League.

Bacon was born July 1, 1900, in Baltimore County in Maryland. Last week he celebrated his 105th birthday. Sam's life can be divided into three parts: his career in soil conservation, his career as a notions distributor and his career as a caregiver to his community. He graduated from the University of College Park in Maryland in 1924.   He worked for the Agricultural Research Service starting in 1928.   He continued with the Soil Erosion Service in North Carolina in 1935, and then came to Tennessee as a soil conservationist in 1945.

After 35 years with the US Dept. of Agriculture, Sam retired in 1963.   This month, on the day following Sam's birthday, Tennessee's Natural Resources Conservation Service honored Samuel R. Bacon as the USDA agency's senior former employee.   "When our agency was first created, Samuel Bacon was already 35 years old," said Tennessee's State Conservationist James Ford.   "Now, 70 years later, NRCS has grown and thrived because of the lasting legacy of dedicated people like Mr. Bacon."   At the NRCS celebration, Ford presented Sam with copies of some of the soil surveys he authored during his tenure. When he wasn't working at his day job, Sam and his wife, Reba, both members of the First United Methodist Church of Cookeville, worked with dozens of charities and were instrumental in helping to establish the Cumberland Art Society. When he retired from the NRCS he began a second career, spending the next 31 years distributing small items to retail stores.

When Sam was 90, Reba became ill and decided it was time for Sam to learn to cook.   She died that year, but not before she had taught her husband how to care for himself. Her name is still listed with his in the telephone directory. When he was 91 Sam Bacon retired from his second business and began using his time to serve others. For more than 17 years he delivered Meals on Wheels (now called the UCHRA Nutritional Program for the Elderly) to seniors who were housebound, driving himself to their residences and distributing both hot food and welcome chit chat.

"Sam embodied the qualities that made that program work," said Linda Tramel who is the field services director for the 14 counties of Middle Tennessee.   "He wanted to do this and he had both enthusiasm and consistency," she said. Sam was especially active with the Cookeville Senior Citizens' Center developing an exercise program for himself and helping others with their exercises. While he has stopped delivering Meals on Wheels, he still drives himself to visit the NRCS field office, to other sites around Cookeville and to visit friends.

When asked about the secret to longevity at his 100th birthday celebration, Bacon told Eunetta Jenkins that life is "about turning to the Bible if we are ever to have peace on this earth. It's about caring for your friends, your community and yourself." A couple of years ago Bacon came marching into the Herald Citizen office carrying a plastic grocery bag laden with fruit and vegetables from his garden.   The weight of the bag made him list a little to the right, but Sam, at that time 103 years old, hefted the bag onto a conference table and removed the ripe produce.   "I wanted to bring you something to say thanks for all you do for the community," he said.