Deaths in the SEJ Family, 2003-2007

Berle, Peter | Carmody, Kevin | Cresson, Jim | Dempsey, Dale | Dunne, Mike | Hulsey, George | Reuther, Christopher | Rivlin, Michael | van Dam, Laura | Walker, James | Weegar, Andrew | More


Peter Berle, d. November 1, 2007

We are sad to report that Peter Berle, a familiar and friendly face at SEJ conferences for years, died in Massachusetts on Thursday, November 1, 2007, of injuries sustained in a farm accident. He was 69, and had been an SEJ member since 1995.
Peter was president of Sky Farm Productions Inc., which produced environmental programming for public television. From 1995 to 2001, he was host of Northeast Public Radio's The Environment Show, and still did commentaries there — the last one posted online was August 13, 2007.
Before getting into journalism, Peter had had a distinguished career in law, politics and the nonprofit world. He served as New York State assemblyman, commissioner of New York's Department of Environmental Conservation and president of the National Audubon Society.
Here are links to online obituaries and tributes: He will be missed.


Kevin Carmody: 1958-2005

Remembering Kevin

Founding board member and award-winning journalist
lived SEJ's mission

By Chris Rigel, SEJ Associate Director:
Kevin Carmody, d. March 9, 2005,
with daughter Siobhan
Kevin Carmody, a founding board member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, died unexpectedly on Wednesday, March 9, at the age of 46. His death is being investigated as a suicide. Why SEJ is suddenly without one of its first and longest-burning lights is unfathomable to us, his colleagues and friends.
Kevin served on SEJ's board of directors from the beginning of the board's existence in 1990 until his death. He was secretary of the board from 1992 until October 1996, when he became board vice president, and in October 1997-October 1998, president. During his presidency, Kevin's family grew with the arrival of his daughter Siobhan. Kevin wrestled with the idea of leaving the board altogether, but settled for playing a less demanding role by stepping down, for the first time, from the executive committee. He subsequently returned to the executive committee, serving as treasurer October 2000-October 2001, and he continued to play leadership roles with SEJ's quarterly newsletter, SEJournal, and in developing policies on membership and finance.
In 1996, Kevin co-chaired the SEJ's 6th Annual Conference in St. Louis along with Mike Mansur, then board member and current editor of the SEJournal. Kevin was also co-chair of SEJ's 15th Annual Conference, to be held this fall in Austin. His vision and creative energy are already deeply imbedded in the program and will be carried on by his co-chair Dina Cappiello, conference manager Jay Letto, and the rest of the conference team.
As board member and current treasurer Peter Thomson said, Kevin was "the only board member ever to hit for the cycle, holding at one point or another every office on the board."
Kevin also co-edited the SEJournal for its first six years, first with Bowman Cox, managing editor of Growth Media Group, and later with Adam Glenn, a senior producer for and Amy Gahran, freelance writer and editor. A snapshot of Kevin's legendary doggedness: when Fall 1994 issue had no one to do the layout, Kevin did it himself, along with editing, gathering and compiling what was then known as the "Green Beat" section, getting the issue to print and into the mail while holding down his other responsibilities.
This is the way he approached his work, his volunteerism with SEJ and his play: a no-holds-barred approach to life that yielded great journalistic achievement, cornerstones and keystones in building the SEJ community — and some really great fish, like the ten-pound trout pictured here. Kevin pulled that trout out of Lake Michigan in the summer of 2000.
Kevin's approach to reporting won him dozens of national awards throughout his 26-year career, including a 1999 George Polk award for the Daily Southtown series "Deadly Silence" that exposed an official cover-up of the deaths of employees exposed to beryllium while working on the A-bomb in the 1940s. That report of misconduct prompted Congress to compensate the victims or their heirs. Among his other recognitions are the National Headliners and Thomas Stokes awards.
Kevin's file at SEJ is stuffed with stories like "Death in the Air," a special report in the Austin American-Statesman exposing builders who ignored asbestos laws, putting workers — especially day workers, mostly Mexicans — at risk and the 2003 Statesman story on chemical contamination at a popular Austin swimming spot, Barton Springs Pool.
"Kevin was as dedicated to science as much as he was to journalism," said SEJ's executive director Beth Parke on March 11. "His respect for scientific accuracy and his take on those who misuse science were a big part of his leadership within SEJ. Ethics in science, ethics in journalism: Kevin was all about those things. He thought all environmental journalists need to be well educated in science to do their best job. But science was also a personal joy to Kevin. I remember how he absolutely lit up when talking about his experience during the science journalism program at Woods Hole, and the awe he felt learning to sequence his own DNA there. He was an admirer of many scientists and followed the work going on in many fields."
Kevin took risks in his reporting, doggedly investigating in the face of criticism and even threats. Close friends and associates watched with concern as Kevin took on mob-connected Detroit businessmen in the 1998 Southtown series, "Public Lands/Private Agendas," a series that exposed the plans of developers to build a landfill next to the nation's first prairie park and its most expensive veterans' cemetery.
Statesman editor Richard Oppel said in his newspaper's March 11 obituary, "As in the case of his investigation of pollutants in Barton Springs, his reporting could bring politicians, pseudo-scientists and special interests to rage — and to press conferences and demonstrations. But, ultimately, he brought them to action."
"Kevin's work, in Chicago, Austin and elsewhere, is his most visible legacy," said Dan Fagin, SEJ board member and past president. "And it is extraordinary by any measure. His project stories represented the highest aspirations of a profession that so often, and increasingly, settles for far less."
Kevin brought the same tenacity to SEJ, working tirelessly to keep the fledgling organization on track as board secretary in the early years, honing board election policies, tracking board decisions, adding his level-headed thinking to the extraordinary mix of journalists who founded SEJ. In the days immediately following his death, the same phrases were spoken again and again: Kevin's ability to analyze a situation, Kevin's clear-headedness, Kevin's comprehensive grasp of complex situations, Kevin's ability to think things through and come up with the right answer.
Throughout his career, Kevin's dedication worked to further SEJ's mission to improve the quality, accuracy and visibility of environmental reporting. His efforts helped boost the environment beat into the public eye and helped create a public demand for this kind of reporting. And his warmth, personable style and enthusiasm helped build the ranks of journalists who cover environment.
That warmth spilled over into how he relaxed, too, and his favorite way to relax was to go fishing. Board meetings, always held in different cities across the country, gave the opportunity to test the waters of many different states. Kevin could find water with fish anywhere. He often took others with him, lent rods and tackle as needed and headed off to rivers, streams and lakes in states too numerous to mention.
"Kevin pushed the fishing time we had right up to the limit," recalls Jim Bruggers, board member and former president. "After a board meeting in Portland, Ore., we were trying to hook Columbia River salmon in a tributary the morning before our planes were scheduled to depart. I had to drive (let's just say pretty fast) to get to the Portland airport to make my plane."
I recall a similar mad dash to the Pittsburgh airport after fishing for trout in Pennsylvania's Youghogheny River and Dunbar Creek with Kevin and board member Don Hopey.
If Kevin stayed fishing late, he also started early, no matter what. Following a board meeting in St. Paul, Minn., in July 2002, Jim Bruggers, Kevin and I managed, after some great music and a nightcap in the hotel scotch bar, to get back to our rooms at 3:00 a.m. Two hours later we met in the lobby and went out into the rain with our gear, heading for a mini-mart to buy our fishing licenses.
Watching Kevin on the water, it was easy to understand why he was such a great journalist. He could read water and knew how the fish would respond. He had long studied them and honed his craft over the years. His touch on the line was light and beautiful — never forced, never erratic, waiting with absolute patience for the shudder on the line indicating the instant for precise action — just like he did with his reporting.
Donate to Kevin's family
Kevin is survived by his wife, Pat Dockery, a former SEJ member, and his daughter, Siobhan. Our hearts are with them in grief. We invite you to share our grieving with these tributes to Kevin Carmody's life.


Jim Cresson, d. March 13, 2006

From the Cape Gazette:
SEJ member James Leedom Cresson, 60, a longtime Delaware journalist, died Monday, March 13, 2006, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident near Centreville, Md.
Services for the Milford resident were held on Saturday, March 18, at Reformation Lutheran Church in Milford.
Mr. Cresson was born in Milford May 12, 1945, the son of James and Edith Marjorie Mulholland Cresson. He graduated from Fishburn Military Academy, Waynesboro, Va., in 1963 and attended University of Maryland and Tusculum College in Tennessee.
In 1968, at the height of the war in Vietnam, Mr. Cresson joined the U.S. Army.
He developed his skills as writer and photographer while serving a year's tour of duty in Vietnam and continued to use those skills over the next several decades as reporter, photographer, editor and publisher in Delaware.
At various different times over those years he wrote for Delaware State News, Middletown Transcript, Delaware Coast Press and the Cape Gazette in Lewes where he was employed at the time of his death. Prior to joining the Cape Gazette in 1998, Cresson and his wife, Corinne, edited and published the Long Neck News in Sussex County.
He won several awards over the years from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and was recently notified that he had taken a first-place prize for his reporting on Delaware Department of Transportation financial problems related to the depleted Transportation Trust Fund.
"Jim was a dog of a reporter," said Cape Gazette sports editor Dave Frederick. "I remember a story he did on the pit bull maulings over in Delmar. It was an amazing piece of journalism. And most recently he did a piece on the new Korean War Memorial in Georgetown. It just struck me how much information — including local folks who had served in that war — that he found for the story."
As a veteran, Mr. Cresson was particularly sympathetic to veterans' issues and proud of his service in Vietnam. "He told me a story once of his last couple of days in Vietnam," said his wife, Corinne.
"He was stationed in Saigon and went out to interview a Green Beret troop. He spent the night with them in the jungle. They went out the next morning on patrol and he went back to Saigon to file the story. That whole troop disappeared — never another word from them. That stuck with him."
Between journalism stints in Delaware, Mr. Cresson traveled the world, making his way as a wanderer through Africa and Europe. "He hitchhiked across the U.S. at least three times," said Corinne, "and lived in Mexico and Arizona before returning to Delaware to stay in 1985."
Mr. Cresson loved to sing and play guitar, was an accomplished carver and woodworker and had uncanny talent for finding native American artifacts — especially arrowheads — in freshly plowed Delaware fields.
He was a member of Christ Episcopal Church in Milford and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Cresson is survived by a daughter and son, Tacy and Caleb, of Milford. He is also survived by his mother, Marjorie Cresson Dobson of Atlantic Beach, Fla.; a stepdaughter, Jessica Coffey, Milford; a stepson and daughter-in-law, Jeremy and Dee Coffey of Cocoa, Fla.; a sister and brother-in-law, Elaine and Larry Price, Glen Mills, Pa.; a niece and nephew, Susan Price and Brad Price of Glen Mills, Pa.; and one grandchild, Ryleigh Coffey of Cocoa, Fla.
An education fund has been established for the children of Cape Gazette journalist Jim Cresson.
Cresson, a Vietnam veteran who was well known for his insightful and fair reporting, was the father of two children, ages 11 and 8. The fund will be used for the children's higher educations.
Donors may make contributions in person at any Wilmington Trust branch by asking to deposit money in the account, Cresson Children Educational Fund. To send a donation, make the check payable to Wilmington Trust and write "Cresson Children Educational Fund" in the memo. Mail it to: Wilmington Trust, P.O. Box 17, Lewes, DE 19958. For more information, call Kerry at 645-7700, Ext. 317.


Dale Dempsey, d. August 23, 2006

Former Dayton Daily News environment reporter and SEJ member Dale Dempsey died in August at his home. He was 54.
Dempsey was a copy editor and night news editor after the Journal Herald merged with the Daily News in Dayton, Ohio. He also covered business and environment. In 2004, he and another staff writer won second place from the Associated Press for Best Community Service for articles about the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority.
Dempsey was on a team of reporters who wrote an award-winning series on megafarms in Ohio. The series examined the impact of the consolidation of Ohio's livestock industry on the environment, exposing regulatory flaws. It won the James M. Cox Public Service Award for metro newspapers.
He also was the author of extensive coverage of urban sprawl and urban planning. Most recently, Dempsey was editing The Ohio Education Gadfly, a newsletter produced by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
Dempsey is survived by his stepfather, Bud Fleischman; daughters Mary Dempsey of Kettering and Colleen Dempsey of Xenia; and a sister, Kathleen Kussman of Oakwood. Memorials may be directed to the Dayton offices of the American Cancer Society or the Humane Society.


Mike Dunne, d. July 8, 2007

From the SEJ archives
SEJournal associate editor Mike Dunne died Sunday, July 8, of cancer. A founding member, Mike could always be found up to his elbows in SEJ projects, from organizing panel sessions or tours for annual conferences to writing up the latest "Inside Story" for SEJournal.
In his day job, Mike was a ground-breaking environmental reporter in Louisiana, placing statewide and national focus on the rapidly-eroding coastline of Louisiana and the efforts by the state and local governments to restore it, while also keeping a watchful eye on the the petrochemical industry that surrounded his home town of Baton Rouge.
Mike had planned to attend SEJ's annual conference in Sept. for what he knew would be the last time. His SEJ family is devastated that he won't be with us.
Mike was senior reporter at The (Baton Rouge) Advocate. He is survived by his wife, Freda Yarbrough Dunne, and his two sons, Dylan and Brad.
He was 58.
Many people have asked us where cards or flowers may be sent for Mike's passing. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to:
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center
America's Wetland
Society of Environmental Journalists, SEJ, P.O. Box 2492, Jenkintown, PA 19046
O'Brien House, 1220 Main St., Baton Rouge, LA 70802
Donations can also be made to the Order of the Arrow, an honor organization of the Boy Scouts of America at the Istrouma Council Boy Scout Office, P.O. Box 66676, Baton Rouge, LA 70896-6676.
Cards may be sent to:
Freda Dunne
2408 Rhododendron Avenue
Baton Rouge, LA 70808-2263
You can read more about Mike, see the funeral notice and sign a guestbook here, at The Advocate.


George H. Hulsey, MD, d. January 15, 2006

By Beth Parke, SEJ Executive Director:
SEJ member Dr. George Hulsey died on January 15, 2006, at his home in Norman, Oklahoma. He had joined SEJ in April of 2005 at the age of 66.
"My 'day' job is as a physician in family practice," he wrote on his SEJ application. "In addition I'm the Outdoor Editor of The Norman (OK) Transcript."
He had served in that role since 2000, coordinating a team of writers in producing a weekly column on hunting, fishing, conservation, bird-watching and environmental concerns. He was a former president of the National Wildlife Federation and was active in local, state and national environmental and political causes. Dr. Hulsey was also instrumental in establishing the Sutton Wilderness area.
Dr. Hulsey's newspaper column was a popular feature on the news wire of CNHI, Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. Ms. J.B. Blosser Bittner, an editor for CNHI wrote in support of his membership application to SEJ, "Doc Hulsey brings readers close enough to the environment to smell the moist soil. His writing is crisp and clear in a way that compels readers to move on to the next sentence. In the relatively short time his columns have been running on our national wire he has developed a fan base from Oklahoma to North Carolina."
Norman Regional Hospital released a statement noting the hospital community was greatly saddened by the passing of Dr. Hulsey. He joined the Norman Regional staff in September 1966 and served as a family medicine physician. Hospital colleague Chet Bynum, MD characterized Dr. Hulsey as "a trailblazer and a leader."
"We've been very fortunate to have him in our community and on our medical staff," Dr. Bynum told The Norman Transcript. "I think he played an important part in improving the general health of our community over the years."
Dr. Hulsey enriched the SEJ community as well.


Christopher Reuther, d. April 26, 2007

By Kimberly Thigpen Tart, News Editor, Environmental Health Perspectives, NIEHS, NIH, DHHS and SEJ member:
In Loving Memory of Christopher Glenn Reuther
SEJ'06 — Chris in Burlington, VT
Christopher Glenn Reuther, environmental journalist, photographer, and graphic artist, died April 26 in Honolulu, Hawaii, as a result of a sudden, inflicted cerebral hemorrhage. He was 34 years old, and had so much more life to live.
Chris was a longtime resident of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, though he lived much of his formative years in Enka, outside of Asheville. He attended Enka High School for two years. A childhood spent in the Blue Ridge Mountains planted the seeds of his passion for protecting the earth so that it could continue to give life and beauty to future generations. His later years spent in Chapel Hill gave rise to his deep commitment to the idea that individuals should do whatever is in their power to improve the lives of others. This was his mantra, and he lived it fully.
Chris had a small family that adored him, and also a larger extended family of friends that includes almost everyone who ever met him. He is survived by his mother Judy Wilson of Apex, North Carolina, his father Philip Reuther of Charleston, South Carolina, his sister Heather Litton and her husband Ken Litton of Westport, Connecticut, his niece Katie and nephew Will also of Westport, his aunt Theresa Arrigon and uncle Robert Arrigon of Setauket, New York, and his beloved dog Jupiter. He is also survived by his stepmother Carolyn Reuther, stepsister Laura Getz, and stepbrother Jason Bennett, all of South Carolina, and other family.
A hallmark characteristic of Chris's was his insatiable curiosity and keen intellect. His junior and senior years of high school he attended the North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham. Chris graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.S. in Public Health and a B.A. in Journalism, simultaneously. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa Honor Fraternity and a writer and photographer for The Daily Tar Heel.
The summer before his last year of college, Chris began his career at Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), a science and news journal published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Durham, North Carolina. During the 10 years he was on staff (for an interim year he was a writer for the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), he discovered a love for environmental reporting and a passion for the work of EHP. It became a personal mission for him to improve the lives of people in his own and the larger global community. He was also a skilled amateur photographer, and recorded the world around him in intimate and compelling detail.
He was set to further expand these gifts to make the world a far better place; he had been recently accepted to four different law schools, including the University of Hawaii and Tulane University in New Orleans, where he was offered the Dean's Scholarship. His plan was to study environmental and international law so that he could dedicate his life to empowering those around the world who are powerless to avoid environmental injury.
Chris gave humbly, generously, and often of himself to both friend and stranger alike. He was, in his heart, a citizen of the world. This led him to travel as often and as far as he could, fearlessly embracing new people and experiences as he went. His philosophy was always to give people — and life — the benefit of the doubt. He loved to do anything outdoors, and was learning to be a pilot; there seemed to be no limit he would not challenge.
In the end, it is Chris's unadulterated enthusiasm for life that will be most remembered, and it is fitting that his generous donation of his organs has and will continue to bring new chances at life to many, many people. He would be pleased to know that parts of him will go on to live in the bodies of these people and bring them health, peace, and well-being. It is just as sure that Chris's spirit will continue to live in the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved him best.
Memorial donations may be made to the Samaritan's Purse Emergency Fund for the rebuilding of New Orleans or to the Society of Environmental Journalists Endowment for the support of high-quality, unbiased news coverage of environmental issues.


Michael Rivlin, d. May 31, 2003

By Dan Fagin, past SEJ President:
Anyone who has ever known Michael Rivlin knows what an extraordinary person he was. His journalism was both elegant and fearless. Everything Michael did was of the highest quality and integrity.
Michael was more than just a superb journalist. He came to journalism in mid-career, after spending some time in advertising, and grew to believe deeply in the cause of improving environmental journalism by building a network of committed environmental journalists. Anyone who has paid even the slightest attention to the SEJ-talk listserv over the last few years has benefited from his frequent postings. Michael knew a lot about a lot of different things, and he was always generous about sharing what he knew, especially with younger journalists who he sensed could especially benefit from his help. Michael could also be prickly when he felt someone's rights were being trampled in our community, and many of us learned to appreciate that quality as well.
Two years ago, Michael came up to me at an SEJ conference and said he wanted to organize a major regional SEJ conference in the New York area. Skeptically, I asked him if he knew what he was in for. He just smiled and said, "If I did, I wouldn't be suggesting it." The result was the extraordinary two-day "Boston-to-Baltimore Briefing" at Rutgers University. That conference, which included more than 20 panels and field trips and attracted more than 200 people, was a Rivlin tour de force. It reflected everything Michael believed: intellectual integrity, substance over glitz, a passion for environmental issues and a commitment to sharing information among environmental journalists. He richly deserved the 2002 David Stolberg Award, which SEJ bestows annually to its most outstanding volunteer.
Now Michael is gone. For those of us who knew him, it is a real loss. For those of you who didn't know Michael, take my word for it, it's a loss for you too. We'll keep you posted about any plans for a memorial service or for charitable contributions in Michael's memory.
By Kathrin Day Lassila:
Michael A. Rivlin, d. May 31, 2003
I met Michael in 1997, but when I remember him, it's not in years but in stories. His first story for OnEarth (then The Amicus Journal) was on GE and the Hudson River. That was when I encountered the trademark Rivlin lede, with its beguiling narrative setup: "If you are a journalist and you work on the Hudson River-PCB contamination story for just a couple of days, you will feel the tendrils of General Electric's excellent public relations machine drawing you by the heels to Hudson Falls, New York." The rest of the article goes on to explicate, and then demolish, GE's claim that Hudson Falls is the only remaining active source of PCBs in the river.
Later, Michael persuaded me to let him profile Ward Stone, the environmentally minded New York State wildlife pathologist. It was one of the best profiles I'd ever been privileged to publish, containing the best quote I may ever publish. Michael told Stone that the state administrators in Albany (who paid Stone's salary) considered him a loose cannon, and Stone protested, "I'm not a loose cannon. I know exactly where I'm firing, and usually it's at them!"
When an environmentalist told me that AAA was deeply enmeshed in the pro-asphalt lobby, I asked Michael to write the story, even though it was based in D.C. and he wasn't. His reporting zeal and his ability to dog his quarry through boxes of documents and mazes of policy made him perfect for it. After the story came out, it was picked up by Harper's and dozens of other alternative and progressive publications. Almost three years later, it still comes up when you Google Amicus.
Michael and I spent hours on the phone together whenever he was working on a story for us. Most of it was planning strategy or negotiating wording ("Kathrin, Kathrin," he would say, in a tone of patient, generous wisdom, when trying to talk me into or out of something), but plenty of it-especially late at night, when we were both tired and worn out by bioaccumulation or sprawl statistics-was just the two of us shooting the breeze. When he felt at ease he was a voluble and entertaining talker, with great stories to tell. He was also irascible; in the time I knew him I also knew of a number of people who were feuding with him or had feuded with him. But when Michael liked and respected people, he liked and respected them unconditionally, with such a warmth of praise that there are a few individuals I have never met or talked to but will always admire, simply because of the way Michael spoke about them.
Michael was proud, and kept many things private. No one I've talked to since his death had any idea he had diabetes. The charm he was capable of came out best in his writing. I'll always remember a passage in the last story he wrote for OnEarth, describing a Latino supermarket in South Carolina:
"The first thing that hits me is a volatile sweet, spicy, exotic aroma. There are stacks of freshly baked tortillas, Mexican canned goods, the smell of cumin and chilies. There's a parrot sitting in a large cage, bottles of hot sauce on the counter, a huge Plexiglas box filled with gigantic pieces of fried pork rind, and, in the center of the store, a shrine with a statue of the Virgin Mary, cheap plastic flowers and a pool of water at her feet, and I'm enchanted."
How I will miss that voice. — Kathrin Day Lassila,  editor of OnEarth (formerly Amicus Journal) from 1994-2003. She is now editor of the Yale Alumni Magazine.


Laura van Dam, d. April 24, 2006

By Beth Parke, SEJ Executive Director:
Laura was an SEJ member and president of the National Association of Science Writers. She died Monday night in Boston, after a long struggle with central nervous system lymphoma.
In addition to serving as NASW's president (and before that as VP and other key roles), Laura also represented NASW at meetings of the Council of National Journalism Organizations. She was a very dedicated and gifted journalist. Laura did everything she could to provide a bridge between SEJ and NASW. She was always enthusiastic and vocal on matters of shared potential and shared concern, especially with regard to freedom of information issues.
Laura had been working freelance for some time before her death, but some of her earlier positions included senior editor for the book publisher Houghton-Mifflin where her specialty was books related to science, technology, medicine, and health. Prior to that she worked as an editor at Technology Review magazine.
A memorial service for Laura was held April 30, 2006, at the First Parish Unitarian Church in Cambridge, MA. Condolences may be sent to her husband, Howard Saxner, and their son, David, at 93 Fayerweather Street, Cambridge, MA, 02138.
NASW has more information about Laura posted on its website.


James Walker, d. April 9, 2003

By Beth Parke, SEJ Executive Director:
James V. Walker, d. April 9, 2003
James Walker, 26-year-old staff writer for the (Jackson, Mississippi) Clarion-Ledger, died in a traffic accident on Wednesday, April 9. He had been a member of SEJ for two years. In that time he had become known as an extremely talented and dedicated reporter and an energetic volunteer and participant in the work of SEJ.
In a letter to James' editor at the C-L, board member Mark Schleifstein expressed SEJ sympathies and wrote: "He was the first person to sign up for the mentoring program, and I quickly found that he needed very little coaching — he was actually giving me story ideas with the published stories he was having me review. James also had volunteered to help with our upcoming annual conference in New Orleans in September, and his help will certainly be missed."
In an April 10, 2003, article about James Walker that appeared in the Clarion-Ledger, he is described as "a passionate environmental reporter" who "helped raise the level of storytelling at this paper, and he took pride in doing the best work possible, no matter what the constraints." I know that all of you share the appreciation for James Walker's life and work, and the sympathies going from SEJ to his colleagues and family.


Andrew Weegar, d. April 19, 2005

By Frank Edward Allen, President and Executive Director, and Paul Rogers, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Institutes for Journalism & Natural Resources (IJNR):
Dear Friends of IJNR,
It is our sorrowful duty to inform you that Andrew Weegar died in a tractor accident on April 19 while working on his farm in Fayette, Maine. He was 41.
Andrew shared enormous gifts of practical wisdom and profound inspiration with hundreds of people who participated along with him in 24 of IJNR's 28 expeditions and in various other activities, beginning with his first High Country Institute journey in Montana in 1997. He was widely respected for his knowledge and skills — as a naturalist, woodsman, fisherman, canoe builder, river guide, farmer, land steward, teacher and writer. He was also beloved for his keen sense of history, magnanimous spirit, cheerful disposition, delightful sense of humor and highly developed ability to spin tall tales.
As an associate director of IJNR, Andrew conceived, shaped, scouted and led several of the organization's most successful learning programs, including the Acadian Institute (Maine and New Brunswick), the Low Country Institute (coastal Georgia and South Carolina) and the Klamath Country Institute (southern Oregon and northern California).
Prior to joining IJNR, Andrew gathered and wrote in-depth stories about natural resources and rural communities for the Maine Times, one of America's oldest alternative weeklies. A native and life-long resident of Maine, he left his home state briefly to earn a bachelor's degree in Slavic languages from Hampshire College and a divinity master's degree from Harvard University. He always spoke up in defense of songbirds and salamanders, and he found contentment in crafting Federalist-period furniture from local hardwoods. Andrew is survived by his parents, his widow Abby Holman and their six-year-old daughter Molly.
IJNR's staff, board members and friends will miss Andrew deeply. He was an integral part of the IJNR family. We are all stunned and saddened by his tragic death. We will never forget Andrew or his durable contributions to our organization and to the improvement of journalism.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to help establish the Molly Weegar College Fund. IJNR is assisting with the collection of donations to this fund. Checks (payable to Molly Weegar College Fund) may be sent to Maggie Allen, Institutes for Journalism & Natural Resources, 121 Hickory Street, Suite 2, Missoula, MT 59801. For further information, please contact Maggie, (406) 543-3812.

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